Lama Zhang, the controversial central figure in Carl S. Yamamoto
's new book may or may not have participated in animal sacrifice, sneezed out a snake-like creature, and engaged in other acts of putative sorcery early in his life. What we can say about this fascinating character, however, is that he was a powerful military and political figure who sustained a community through the "multidimensional mastery" of time, space, and discourse. Vision and Violence: Lama Zhang and the Politics of Charisma in Twelfth-Century Tibet
(Brill, 2012) uses Lama Zhang to explore a key moment in Central Tibetan history, the medieval Buddhist revival sometimes known as the Tibetan Renaissance. Yamamoto's wonderfully multidisciplinary approach considers the centrality, at many different levels, of practices that transformed fragments into unified wholes in the context of social groups, political institutions, and religious practices in the history of medieval Tibet and its relationship with Buddhism. The book asks us to rethink our notions of lineage, family, and clan in this larger context, and reimagines literary genres in the context of Tibetan and Buddhist texts. Enjoy!