And so, last Tuesday, I went to see the monk-show. The Tibetan monks sort of did the polytonic ("multitonic") chanting, with the dissonant horns and cymbals. There was an interlude of snow-tiger pantomime, basically like a two-person Chinese dragon outfit -- except that it's a snow tiger, so it gets to gambol around and do cat things instead of dragon things: it can sort of nod off, wake up, run around, gnaw at fleas, nod off, gnaw at fleas some more, and run around. A crowdpleaser.
Then more chanting; then two of the monks danced around in very Día de los Muertos outfits, the exact meaning of which I don't remember, even thought it was carefully explained (as were each of the segments) by the MC monk with a very Indian accent. The dances were sort of like hula dancing adapted to the Himalayas -- slow, ceremonial, stylized, and representational in ways you wouldn't know about unless it was explained to you.
The oddest thing about the chanting, to me, wasn't the musical or vocal qualities of it, but the
phonetic properties of it: there seemed to be no
Then a segment of Tibetan comedy gold! This consists of one monk sitting down and asserting some philosophical proposition (all in Tibetan) -- in this case, I think the assertion was (as later translated) that the impermanence of sound is somehow similar to the role of terms in a syllogism. Then the other monks heckle him, by saying that his ideas are vague, unrevealing, uninteresting, counterfactual, or poorly expressed. These attacks also feature giggling, a sort of "Hah! Take THAT!" clap-gesture, and taking off the asserter's big yellow pompom-hat and handing it to him. The asserter responds with clarifications, defenses, and however you say "nu-unh!" in Tibetan. All the monks on stage start joining in the fray and then everyone collapses laughing, and that's the end of that segment.
It was a kind of Hegelian dialectic that I never could have imagined; altho in retrospect it seems to be a very logical development of a culture that answers the question "when do we start bombing?" with "never" instead of "whenever".
Then wrapup with more chanting. Applause, standing O, t-shirts and CDs on sale in the lobby.