DordogneRead the entire Focus on John and Wulstan here.

Interview by Noa Jones, Khyentse Foundation Communication Director

The foundation’s 2016 Khyentse Fellows, Padmakara Translation Group co-founders John Canti and Wulstan Fletcher, sat down with Noa Jones in a village café in southwest France for a lively conversation about their paths from medical doctor and Benedictine monk, respectively, to becoming great translators of the Dharma. John and Wulstan, along with four or five friends, founded Padmakara after finishing a three-year retreat, in which they were inspired to make Tibetan teachings and practices broadly available to all western practitioners.

Over omelettes and a bit of celebratory champagne, the conversation wandered freely through many of the pressing concerns for Tibetan Buddhists, and translators in particular. How can we make sure that young translators have the support, and the training, they need to make a living? When so much of our practice material is originally in Tibetan, how can we ensure that practitioners and academics have accurate and inspiring translations? How has translation changed since the 1980s, moving from typewriters to electronic books?

The interview has been edited slightly for clarity and length.

Noa Jones (NJ): How long have each of you been in the Dordogne?

John Canti (JC): I first visited in ‘75 or ‘76, when Dudjom Rinpoche and Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche first came to France. I think I came twice during those years. At the time we didn’t know how often the lamas were going to be coming to the west. I had just qualified as a doctor, and soon afterwards got a job with an NGO in Eastern Nepal that I thought would bring me geographically nearer to the lamas. As the crow flies, I was not very far from Darjeeling, where Kangyur Rinpoche’s monastery was, and Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche and Dudjom Rinpoche were both based in Kathmandu. But in fact I was working up in the hills in places that were five or six days’ walk from the nearest roadhead, which was still a long bus or plane ride from Kathmandu, so in practice I was much farther from the lamas up there than I had been in London.

Around the time that I decided to go east, a lot of the lamas and teachers were coming west. A lot of our friends who had tried to spend long periods in Darjeeling were finding it hard. Visas were difficult, and on top of that, to stay in Darjeeling you had to have a special permit. And there were health problems and all the rest of it. So that’s when some of our teachers started to think about finding a place in Europe or America, where people could stay and practice for long periods of time.


This was all going on while I was working in Nepal. And it was finally decided that Pema Wangyal Rinpoche would establish a place here [in France] where people could do three-year retreats, guided by Dudjom Rinpoche and Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. One day in Nepal I got back to my base in the hills after working in the villages, and there was a letter saying: if you want to do a three-year retreat, come now. So I left my job (a little bit reluctantly), but this was not an opportunity to be missed. This was in the spring of 1980, and as it took some time to hand over my work and leave I was a bit scared that the retreat might have already started. But when I got here, in June or July of 1980, there was still a lot to organize, buildings to be finished, and we finally started the retreat in December. It was the first retreat here. I never thought this is where I’d spend the rest of my life, but here we still are.


Wulstan Fletcher (WF): I first came here in 1984, which was the summer when these guys had just finished their retreat, and it was the last time that Dudjom Rinpoche gave a big public teaching here. In fact, Dudjom Rinpoche and Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche were here at the same time, both giving teachings. So that was very fortunate because I was able to meet both of them. I had to go back to England, but managed to come back in ‘86 to do the three-year retreat. It was when we came out that we first started to think about Padmakara.

NJ: When did you learn Tibetan?

JC: In my case it’s been in fits and starts. There were very few universities in the ‘70s and ‘80s where you could study Tibetan, and we didn’t get the chance to go to any of them. I had a group of friends and we were all intermittently trying to learn Tibetan in the ‘70s. We had classes, there was a wonderful lama living in London called Khenpo Thubten, from Dzogchen Monastery. We used to see him every week, receive some teachings, and study Tibetan and go through some texts, trying to read and decipher things ourselves.

There was a geshe from Sera living in London, as well, who taught us in a very informal class. There were a few books beginning to appear to enable people like us who were interested in Dharma to study grammar and spoken Tibetan at a relatively simple level. I kept on learning, very slowly, during my time in Nepal, in retreat, and afterwards on trips to India and Nepal.

WF: John was lucky because he had some time in India. My Tibetan is entirely self-taught, which is not the best way. It’s been a very haphazard process. It’s amazing when you see what is now available. In those days there was nothing. Now there are so many resources, lots of people learning how to translate.

JC: The number of people who actually follow it through is relatively small. Part of the problem is that if people are going to have a career as translator, someone has to pay them to do it. Up until now there haven’t been too many long-term options.

NJ: What was the first thing that you translated?

WF: All the practice texts in the retreat were in Tibetan, so that was where we started.

JC: In the retreat, in order to understand the texts, it made sense to try to translate them. So we would start making translations for our own use, and then share them, but it was for a very small circulation. There were texts we were practicing, and others we were studying. For most of our first retreat, everything was handwritten. Christian Bruyat, one of our translator colleagues, had a typewriter, I think.

WF: We used to photocopy the Tibetan, cut out the lines in long ribbons, and stick them to the page, then put the English in line by line and photocopy the whole thing.

NJ: It was mostly Pema Wangyal Rinpoche leading the retreat?

JC: Yes, it was Rinpoche who led and managed the whole thing; but there were also long periods when either Dudjom Rinpoche or Khyentse Rinpoche would be there, they would stay for three or four months at a time, and teach in the retreat. Then we had Nyoshul Khenpo Rinpoche who stayed in the retreat with us for a lot of the time, and his assistant, Lama Sonam Topgyal. We also had visits from the 16th Karmapa and Kalu Rinpoche—all these great lamas who were passing by, it was quite an extraordinary period.

I then did a second retreat in Bois Bas, which is right next door to where I live now.


NJ: And when you both came out of retreat, that’s when Padmakara Translation Group started?

JC: The very beginnings of Padmakara go back to the time during the first retreat when Tulku Rinpoche asked Christian Bruyat to translate The Words of My Perfect Teacher into French. Christian is a long-time student here. That was the most ambitious project going on at the time, but several of us were beginning to translate shorter texts and try our hand at some of the books we were studying.

At the time, the tools we had were quite primitive. But I remember a moment during our second retreat, when Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche was visiting, and Matthieu [Ricard] was accompanying him. He had a computer which he left in my room, and I pressed the on button to see what would happen; there was a lot of activity on the screen, then nothing except the letter C. I had no idea what to do next, but I was quite taken with the thing and its possibilities. So when we came out of that retreat in ‘88, we all got laptops very quickly, and started seeing the potential for translation using computers.


Scan9You couldn’t type Tibetan in those days, but word processing made translation so much easier. So that growing activity became Padmakara, and as Pema Wangyal Rinpoche had requested some years before, the first book we not only translated but also published ourselves was The Words of My Perfect Teacher, in French. This was before desktop publishing, so it was published in the old fashioned way, typeset and litho printed using films and zinc plates. Then we gradually started publishing more books in French, which we distributed ourselves. At the same time we were producing English translations as well, but we realized that there was no hope of trying to publish our own books in English and distribute them from here in France. So most of them went to publishers in the US, like Shambhala and Snow Lion

WF: In English—at Shambhala—they had all the editorial staff, copy editors, book designers, and so on, so it’s easier and more convenient on every level.

JC: Some of our first English books were teachings by Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche on famous texts, translated by Matthieu and then worked on by Wulstan, myself, or our colleague Steve Gethin. We tried publishing some of them ourselves at first, but they weren’t widely available until Shambhala and Snow Lion took them on. We had made contact early on with Sam Bercholz, the founder of Shambhala and a student of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, so automatically any books on the teachings of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche were really interesting to him. One of them was the Heart Treasure of the Enlightened Ones, on a teaching by Dilgo Khyentse on a text by Patrul Rinpoche.

WF: I remember when we were in retreat, several people had worked on a commentary on Longchen Nyingtik, Guru Yoga. I think Matthieu had done an oral translation and there was a lot of difficulty trying to figure out what Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche had actually said.

JC: Yes, there were quite a few books like that where Matthieu had recorded, or even made notes, on several teachings by Khyentse Rinpoche on the same subject, but for some of them it was difficult not having a text to base it on. But we were also working on direct translations of some well-known Tibetan texts, like The Words of My Perfect Teacher and The Way of the Bodhisattva.

WF: The Way of the Bodhisattva was one of the first ones. That was after the Dalai Lama’s visit to Dordogne in 1991, when he taught the Bodhicaryavatara. It had been translated before, of course, but this was a new translation to celebrate the occasion.



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JC: With The Words of My Perfect Teacher, we took a different route. We had been approached by a British organization called the Sacred Literature Trust, who wanted to produce a series of books on religious traditions. But their contract for the series was with Harper Collins, so we published the book with them. For us it was interesting because it was outside of the sphere of specialist Buddhist publishers. In retrospect, though, it caused some problems, and we still have this complicated contract with that organization that now barely exists. Nevertheless, we have managed to produce several editions, including one licensed to Shambhala, which are well distributed.

So Padmakara as always has been several things at once. We are a group of translators, and we have tried to pool resources, exchange ideas, and coordinate what we work on. For the French texts, we are also our own publisher, and for the English texts Padmakara is a repository of the translations we produce instead of each of us having individual copyrights to a text. That will hopefully give our work some stability and continuity in the future when we’re gone.

NJ: What sort of difficulties did you face when Padmakara started up?

JC: One big problem was that we could see how much there was to be done, but it was difficult to find the time to work on it all. The books brought in very little money, only just enough to support a minimal administrative structure and to cover production costs, but nothing for the actual translation work. So we all struggled to make a living, which we managed by doing paid translation work, technical manuals, scientific articles, and that sort of thing.

WF: Dharma translation had to be done in our spare time, so it was incredibly slow.

JC: Occasionally we could get a little sponsorship, but for us it was the Tsadra Foundation that changed everything—they came along at the very end of the ‘90s and started sponsoring our translation work regularly. Without them we wouldn’t have survived. With Tsadra’s support we could suddenly work full time doing our translation work and not have to worry too much about earning a living any more. Not only that, but Tsadra’s goals corresponded to what our lamas wanted. The Tsadra Foundation is still sponsoring five of us, and for a long time they were supporting part of Padmakara’s institutional costs as well.

WF: Tsadra has made a huge difference.

JC: Tsadra was and remains extraordinary, too, because it supports translators who aren’t working in an academic context. There aren’t many sources of funding outside academia for this kind of work. Now there is 84000, too, at least for the canonical texts, but for a whole decade Tsadra was one of the very few organisations supporting translators like us.



NJ: What are your wish lists, what would you like to see in translation?

WF: There are many more translations available now, and many people, mostly younger than ourselves, have acquired very good language skills and training in western universities. They know Tibetan and Sanskrit well, much better than we do, and so the landscape has been transformed. But the inspiration behind Padmakara has been to produce texts for practitioners. That’s always been a priority. Although we also try to reach a level that is academically acceptable, which is not very easy, connecting with the lineage is a really important element, and the texts that we work on have always been taught to us at some point by a lama who holds it, so there’s a transmission there.

NJ: Well, through the Rangjung Yeshe Institute, it seems like they’re also getting the Chökyi Nyima lineage transmission.

JC: Oh yes, there are several other groups with the same orientation. And there are more and more practicing Buddhists in some of the universities. Basically, if you are interested in Buddhism, and want to make it a career, you could either go into academic Buddhist studies or go towards neurology and brain research—the Mind and Life, Richard Davidson kind of field, or perhaps into the medical uses of mindfulness. In a way that’s great; a lot of people in academia are practitioners, and they are able to say so, and no longer have to keep that hidden.

But at the same time there is a place for people like us, working from more traditional angles, working with the lamas of the living lineage to a greater extent, and less concerned with trying to keep up with academic requirements. For example, in a lot of academically published translations now, there is a translation of the actual text concerned, and then there is a much longer section, “my view” on the text—the translators’ views and analysis, without which they won’t get the PhD, or the chair, or whatever. In many ways, it’s great what people are doing, they come up with some very interesting research and the translation has to be made using strict philological principles, and it often gives good results, but sometimes these translations end up dry and divorced from the experience they’re supposed to be talking about. There’s a danger that some of these texts, even the ones that are meant to be an inspiration, are becoming scholastic and dry.

NJ: In some cases lamas are sponsoring their own students, or supporting them to get that translation experience and training, then bringing them back home and teaching them.

JC: Yes, that’s encouraging. Here, we’re trying to give life to a project spearheaded by Mike Engle, a young retreat participant, to create a Padmakara internship program and raise funds for it, so that we can provide at least a basic living allowance for those who want to train as translators in the framework of Padmakara. And that would include not only hanging out here, and learning and practicing with the lamas, but also studying at a traditional shedra in India, and taking one of the university courses somewhere, while all the time trying to keep in touch with the lineage.

NJ: What is the framework of Padmakara?

WF: The kind of translation produced in academia tends, or has tended, to be linked with the securing of qualifications. The main thing is to demonstrate one’s mastery of the languages, knowledge of the text, and the field in general in the accepted scholarly way. That’s one way of going about it. But what we try to do is to communicate the content of the text in a way that readers might find useful and inspirational in their lives and spiritual practice—which is after all what the texts were intended for in the first place. This means that a lot of care has to be taken with the language of the translation itself—one’s English—so that the message gets across. It’s easy to forget that in translation, knowledge and skill in the target language is not a given; it needs a lot of work too.

When you look at someone like Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche and the way he teaches, he’s a genius in the way he is able to explain difficult things in a simple and engaging way.. I have always found him a great inspiration. He made a huge change here when he came and taught on the Madhyamika texts of Chandrakirti about 10 or 15 years ago. People here had done a lot of retreat and practice, but had not perhaps been very interested in Madhyamika. But then Rinpoche arrived and showed us that hard-core Buddhist philosophy was not only very fascinating, but also very important. I’ve never been the same since! And that was entirely thanks to Rinpoche’s skill and enthusiasm.

NJ: So it’s the inspiration side that needs more work?

WF: Motivation is crucially important—why you are making the translation, and for whom. The standard has to be high, in the sense that you have to capture the meaning. On the other hand, it’s important also to be in touch with the living lineage—with lamas and khenpos—so that the translation itself can help create a connection also for the readers. That seems very important, whereas it’s not an issue at all in academia.

JC: On the other hand, you also get translations coming out of Dharma centers (I’m sure the same could be said for some of the stuff that we’ve done) that are oversimplified and dumbed down. It depends what kind of text it is. It might be fine as a prayer, or mainly for inspiration, but when you’ve got text in which the devil really is in the detail, then you’ve got to be very careful and precise in the way you translate it and present it. In terms of language, of course, but also in terms of things like the layout, its whole pedagogical approach, how clear is it, how well people understand it, how well the different ideas of the content are presented and laid out. Those things can easily be neglected. In some ways, that attention to the real detail, and the helpful analysis, are what the academics are really good at. But ideally a translation should show a combination of both kinds of qualities, so that it’s suitable for serious students and practitioners, and that’s hard to achieve.

NJ: It’s interesting, I’ve heard Rinpoche encourage aspiring translators to study English poetry and literature so that their own language is richer. What do you think about the idea of taking a text that is already translated from Tibetan and then infusing a rhythm or style to that? I know some practitioners who do that with their own texts.

JC: That’s really good, but I feel strongly that any translator who does that has to know both sides really well. What we’ve seen in 84000 projects sometimes is that we have a translator who knows the Tibetan well, and does a version in English which is accurate in some way, but not very inspiring aesthetically. If that text then gets passed to someone else to fix up the English, or to make it more beautiful, as a later stage, that doesn’t really work because the person who is responsible for the final editing doesn’t really know enough (in some cases anyway) to convey what’s supposed to be there, so you get these superimposed layers, and that doesn’t work.

I think what works well is if you have two translators working together, one who knows the original really well, and one who knows how to write, as long as they work together simultaneously, and not one after the other. So it’s a difficult combination of qualities that either a single translator or a team must have to make it work.

And then of course there’s the whole question of terminology. We’re still struggling toward developing terminology in English that really conveys the proper meaning of some of the Tibetan—and indeed the Sanskrit—terms that are so important in the translations. We’re still far from succeeding there. If you put in lots of Sanskrit terms untranslated, a text begins to read like algebra. But if you try to put even the most technical terms in English, you tend to be missing out on some of the subtleties of the meaning. You can overgeneralize by using English words that are not properly adapted. These are things that take time, and we are still at an early stage.

NJ: That makes me think again, if you had a wish list—beyond the internship program—if you had unlimited funds and time, what would you like to see?

JC: Well, we would very much like to see a younger generation of translators coming up to take our place—practitioner translators—which we don’t really see here at Padmakara at the moment. So that internship program could be good. There are plenty of promising young translators in the world as a whole, mostly in academia or semi-academia, but it would be nice to see our own younger generation, which we haven’t yet. That would be number one.

WF: I would like to see, in my perfect world, a much greater availability of Tibetan scholars who work with translators and are able to communicate the real meaning—sometimes the Tibetan is quite obscure and difficult. A partnership between the Tibetan side and the English side, a bit like in the past between the Tibetans and the Indian panditas. In a way that’s always been the ideal, but it has rarely materialized.

JC: It’s actually hard for us to get the time from the lamas to go in detail through the text. It’s one of the things we pride ourselves on, but sometimes it remains more of an ideal than a reality. Because the lamas are so busy, traveling a lot, teaching, and with so many activities, they can’t really give enough time. We need someone who can really be available. I think we could keep a good scholar occupied almost full time to work with the translators.

Pema Wangyal Rinpoche has made various attempts to find people, khenpos, for example, people we could work with. The problem is that the people who are free and sufficiently available to work with us are usually not those whose knowledge is sufficiently deep and wide enough to really help. You can get a young khenpo who knows a lot from his shedra education, but that’s not enough. But the best scholars and lamas who could answer our questions are so busy doing all kinds of other things.

This is a problem for the lamas, in a sense—how they find the right balance between teaching, organizing, managing, and all the other things they do, and allowing time for the translations of the texts—which is very, very time consuming. I think that’s one thing that almost nobody really understands until they start doing it—just how long it takes to sit down with an original Tibetan or Sanskrit text and put it into good English, accurately and carefully, bringing it to the state where it’s ready for publication.

NJ: What are both of you working on now?

JC: I have a supposedly part-time book project that has been on the go since Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche gave the teaching here on the Uttaratantra-shastra. I’ve been translating Mipham Rinpoche’s commentary on it. I have had countless diversions from finishing it, but it’s almost ready. The translation itself is almost final, but I’m trying to write an introduction and the other ancillaries and get it ready. So that’s been a long-term project.

But almost all of my time nowadays is spent on the 84000 project, for which I’m the editorial chair, and one of my tasks is going through translations that have been completed but need the final touches, getting them ready for publication, which is very time-consuming but interesting work. I’ve also spent a lot of time recently helping to conceive and construct the new 84000 website, a new text reader we hope to launch soon, and the presentation of the Kangyur and Tengyur, all the titles and some curatorial material.

WF: I’m working on two things. Most of my work is done in tandem with Helena, and her Tibetan is very good. She does the hard work mostly, and I come afterwards and go through the Tibetan and we work together to put it into English. That’s really how we’ve been working all these years. At the moment we’re working together on the Ngalso korsum, The Trilogy of Resting at Ease of Longchenpa. There are three root texts by Longchenpa, each with his own commentary.


Then on the side, I’ve been working on Mipham Rinpoche’s commentary on the wisdom chapter of the Bodhicaryavatara, The Way of the Bodhisattva. When Mipham wrote this text, it produced a storm of protest from Gelugpa scholars—which Mipham answered in two further texts. At the moment, I’m working on one of those texts, which will be included with the commentary. I hope to have that finished by the end of the year. The two texts will be published by Shambhala.

JC: I think one of the things we both agree upon is that the great privilege of being a translator is that there is no better way to really get down to studying a text. It’s so important to have some sort of transmission, to have someone who explains it. But even if someone explains it in detail, you’re just sitting there listening, taking notes or something, you just take some of it in. But if you’ve got the text in front of you, and you’ve got to put it into English, or some other language, and you’re working with it for years and years, then you get deeply into it, and you really know it. It’s a very nice job to have from that point of view.

NJ: Do you have a favorite translation project?

JC: I don’t know what that would be for me. Just in general, the work with 84000 is especially interesting because we’re discovering in the Kangyur all kinds of unexpected passages. Basically the Kangyur has been used in the tradition as the scriptural source for all the doctrine, and it’s really important as the basic transmission of what Buddha taught. All of the treatises—whether Indian or Tibetan—are full of quotes from the sutras and canonical texts, and the tantras, too, but from any particular canonical text it’s often just a few short excerpts that have been quoted and studied and are well known. A lot of the other material in the text may never have been studied much, because it never made its way into the well-known quotes. So working on this vast, unexplored area is really interesting, it’s like digging up treasure. There have always been a few Tibetan lamas who have read the Kangyur a lot, but even when the lung, the reading transmission, of the whole Kangyur is given, it’s read very fast without any investigation or explanation, so it’s interesting to see in detail what’s there.

Another aspect is how astonishing it is what the original translators managed—the Tibetan translators and of course their Indian partners in the 8th and 9th centuries up until the 10th, 11th, and 12th. The way they translated all this material, transmitted it along with the whole cultural transfer that they brought about, with a whole new style and terminology, and the precision with which it was done, is all quite extraordinary. Shantarakshita started them off, and Guru Rinpoche, and they had translation teams and training, a college of translators all working together. Almost all the sutras were translated in the early translation period, in 150 years or so.



NJ: And here we are doing it again. In maybe less than 150 years.

JC: It’s a hard act to follow. It’s extremely interesting to see this literature reaching the light of day. We’re trying to apply some reasons for choosing which texts to translate first, but it’s hard to know what’s there, actually. Some are texts that may have been quoted, but often it’s just one four-line verse from the whole text that has ever been widely used. So you just never know what the subject matter is going to be. A lot of people presume that the deep philosophical teachings, on emptiness for example, took full form only much later, when the scholars started to analyze all of this material and to systematize and expand it, but we are finding that there is a huge amount in the sutras themselves that was very detailed.

WF: In a way, the Tibetans are a uniquely conservative people. They have preserved this ancient Buddhist literature and teaching intact since the 8th century. Also, the Tibetan written language has evolved very slowly—much slower than English for example—so that when you read a Tibetan text, not only are you reading a different culture, but it’s as if you are going back in time. You can have someone like Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche in the 20th century, and Longchenpa in the 12th, and the way they write is almost the same. From a literary point of view, they are virtual contemporaries.

NJ: What are you interested in having translated?

JC: We’ve always been guided by what the lamas feel would be good for people to study. Which is a good and useful guideline. There are certain texts of course for the three-year retreat, there are basic texts for each level of the practice that would be studied, and by and large those are the ones that we have been encouraged to concentrate on.

NJ: What’s interesting to me are people like Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche who wrote works that haven’t been translated. I’m interested in the contemporary—the ones where there are still living students of the people who wrote the texts, because they’re fresh, and there’s a chance you could get a more powerful translation out of a text like that.

WF: That was what I was really talking about when I mentioned Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche. He was explaining Chandrakirti, who lived in the 7th century and is in any case a very difficult writer. But Rinpoche brought his teachings to life in a way that was new and fresh and completely relevant. Now I’m waiting for him to come back to Dordogne and do the same with Dharmakirti’s Pramanavarttika. I think that would be really good, because Dharmakirti discusses topics like theism and rebirth, which are important questions for modern western Buddhists.

NJ: Have you asked him?

WF: He was asked, and he said he would like to do it, but I don’t know if he remembers. It was a long time ago.

JC: We ask him, every time we see him, to come to Dordogne and teach again, and he always says he will, but it never seems to get into the program. Sometimes he asks, “Why do you need me to come when you’ve got Pema Wangyal Rinpoche and Jigme Khyentse Rinpoche?” It’s true, we have so much to learn from them. But we want him to come, too.


JC: We are grateful and honoured to have been awarded the Khyentse Foundation Fellowship, which no doubt reflects the work done by the Padmakara Translation Group as a whole, and not just the two of us. Whatever we have achieved would have been impossible without the collaboration of our colleagues and the far-seeing direction of Pema Wangyal Rinpoche and Jigme Khyentse Rinpoche, as well as the generosity of the Tsadra Foundation. Both of us, though, feel quite embarrassed to have been chosen for an honour whose previous recipients are in quite a different league. This is not at all false modesty on our part. For instance, in recent years I have worked a lot with Peter Skilling, and I am in awe of the breadth and depth of his learning. We are just fireflies.



Thanks to Alicia Fordham and Sarah Wilkinson (North) for their help in transcribing and editing this interview.