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How to Read Like a Dead Horse Listens

Audience and Affect in "The Tale of the Separation of Horse and Kiang"

Brandon Dotson

Journal of Tibetan Literature (2022) 1 (1): 47–73.

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Issue Section Research

Keywords oral literature, audience, animals and literature, affect, ritual literature, funeral rituals

Abstract

“The Tale of the Separation of Horse and Kiang,” a 9th- or 10th-century Tibetan ritual text recovered from Dunhuang, is a work of both simplicity and of extraordinary richness. This article offers a guided reading through this performative text, and describes its use of various poetic devices common to the genre of ritual antecedent tales. It also teases out some intriguing structural parallels and reversals in the plot of the narrative, and in the relationship it imagines between horses and humans. An application of Peter Rabinowitz's typology of four audiences reveals how the tale operates on different levels, simultaneously appealing to an ideal narrative audience of equine listeners, an ideal human audience that takes the world of this tale as real, a literary/performative audience that is familiar with the genre of ritual antecedent tales, and an actual audience of readers and listeners ranging from those who are ignorant of these tales and their genre to those who know them well. Considering also the plot's arc and the role of affect in the bodies of the tale's listeners, the article offers suggestions for how such tales impacted their various audiences.

ཏུན་ཧོང་ནས་རྙེད་ལ་དུས་རབས་དགུ་པའམ་བཅུ་པར་གཏོགས་པའི་བོད་ཀྱི་ཆོ་གའི་ཡིག་ཆ་《རྟ་རྐྱང་དབྱེ་བའི་རབས》ཅེས་པ་ནི་གོ་བདེ་གཏིང་ཟབ་ཀྱི་བརྩམས་ཆོས་ཤིག་རེད། དཔྱད་རྩོམ་འདིའི་ནང་དུ་གོང་གི་ཆོ་གའི་ཡིག་ཆ་ལ་འགྲེལ་བརྗོད་བརྒྱུད་དེ་སྤྱིར་བཏང་གི་ཆོ་གའི་སྔོན་འགྲོའི་གཏམ་རྒྱུད་རྩོམ་སྟངས་དང་ཆ་འདྲ་བའི་ཡིག་ཆ་དེ་གའི་སྙན་ངག་གི་ཐབས་རྒྱན་སྣ་ཚོགས་བཀོལ་སྟངས་ཞིབ་བརྗོད་བྱེད་པ་དང་། གཏམ་རྒྱུད་ཀྱི་བྱུང་རིམ་ཞིབ་འབྲི་བྱེད་སྟངས་དང་མི་དང་རྟའི་བར་གྱི་འབྲེལ་བ་ལ་འཆར་སྣང་བྱེད་སྟངས་ཀྱི་ཆ་ལ་སྒྲིག་གཞིའི་རང་བཞིན་གྱི་མཐུན་ཕྱོགས་དང་ལྡོག་ཕྱོགས་ཀྱི་ངོས་ནས་དབྱེ་ཞིབ་ཀྱིས་གསེད་བཀྲོལ་བྱས་ཡོད། ཕེ་ཐུར་ར་བྷེ་ནོ་བེ་ཟུ་ཡི་ཀློག་མཁན་རིགས་བཞིའི་ཐབས་ལམ་བེད་སྤྱོད་བྱས་པ་བརྒྱུད་གོང་གི་ཆོ་གའི་ཡིག་ཆ་དེའི་ངོས་དང་ཟུར་མི་འདྲ་བའི་ནུས་བ་གསལ་བཤད་བྱས་ཡོད། ཆོ་གའི་ཡིག་ཆ་འདིས་ཀློག་མཁན་རིགས་བཞི་ལ་དུས་མཚུངས་ཀྱིས་བྱེད་ནུས་ཐེབས་ཐུབ་ལ་དཔེར་འོས་ཀྱི་ཞིབ་འབྲིའི་ཀློག་མཁན་ཏེ་རྟ་རིགས་ཉན་མཁན་དག། དཔེར་འོས་ཀྱི་ཀློག་མཁན་མི་སྟེ་གཏམ་རྒྱུད་འདི་ལས་བསྐྲུན་པའི་འཇིག་རྟེན་བདེན་པར་འཛིན་མཁན། རྩོམ་མཁན་ནམ་ཆོ་གའི་ཡིག་ཆ་ལག་བསྟར་ལེན་མཁན་ཏེ་ཆོ་ག་ཡི་སྔོན་འགྲོའི་གཏམ་རྒྱུད་འབྲི་ཐབས་ལ་རྒྱུས་མངའ་ཆེ་བའི་ཀློག་མཁན། དོན་དམ་པའི་ཀློག་མཁན་དང་ཉན་མཁན་དག་སྟེ་གཏམ་རྒྱུད་ཀྱི་བྱུང་རིམ་དང་རྩོམ་སྟངས་ལ་ཆ་རྒྱུས་ཡོད་མེད་ཅི་རིགས་བཅས་སོ། དེར་མ་ཟད་དཔྱད་རྩོམ་འདི་ཡིས་གཏམ་རྒྱུད་སྤྱིའི་བྱུང་རིམ་དང་འཕེལ་རིམ་ལ་བསྟུན་ནས་ཉན་པ་པོའི་ལུས་ལ་ཐེབས་པའི་ཤུགས་རྐྱེན་ལ་གཞིགས་ཏེ་འདི་ལྟ་བུའི་གཏམ་རྒྱུད་ཀྱིས་ཀློག་མཁན་མ་འདྲ་བར་ཐེབས་པའི་བྱེད་ནུས་ཀྱི་ཐད་ནས་བསམ་ཚུལ་བཏོན་ཡོད།

Authors

Brandon Dotson

Published 2022-11-15

How to Cite

Dotson, Brandon. 2022. “How to Read Like a Dead Horse Listens: Audience and Affect in ‘The Tale of the Separation of Horse and Kiang’”. Journal of Tibetan Literature 1 (1):47–73. https://journaloftibetanliterature.org/index.php/jtl/article/view/40.

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