The way I want to talk about the current crisis of self-immolations by Tibetans may be risky for a scholar in academia. This is not merely because it critiques how my field has tended to address the topic. More basically, it departs from the usual mode of scholarly writing altogether.
I composed the following reflections without an initial plan or even an idea of what I would say. Nor was I sure of their full implications upon completion. And yet, in the particular case at hand, I think the fact that I wrote out of an immediate and even instinctive sort of intuition made an important realization possible. Or perhaps more accurately, what made it possible was that I was obeying an imperative that I had discerned—a demand on myself—to try and say something about my intuition, even if it didn’t stand as an entirely consistent scholarly principle.