Any form of self-immolation always makes for a powerful visual image because the idea of setting our bodies on fire for most mere mortals sounds excruciating and painful, which inherently goes against our innate tendencies for self-preservation.
Based on this repulsive thought, one of my favorite Singaporean writers and local literary pioneer Goh Poh Seng centered his novel “The Immolation” on. (Click here for previous post about one of Goh’s poem)
Set during the Vietnam War, lead character Thanh witnessed a monk named Tran Kim who set himself on fire in protest against foreign intervention.
During which, Tran’s cryptic smile fascinated Thanh and inspired him, who was a foreign-educated student, to join in the counter-movement.
“It was an act of courage, an act of self-sacrifice to move the hearts of men, to open their eyes to the injustices that are being perpetrated,” said Tran’s superior monk. “Tran Kim’s self-immolation…
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