Tuesday, November 28, 2006

mamma mia! we were hating the pope only yesterday. we held crowded meetings to protest his visit. we were cold shouldering him for saying that turkey did not constitute a part of europe or for quoting a millenium old statement by a loooooong dead emperor about mohammad who was and felt threatened by his armies.

for about a week, the media reported how the turkish government officials, including the premier and the foreign minister, were shunning a meeting his holiness benedictus 16, trying to put a wedge between the spiritual leader of one and a half billion catholics and their muslim piety. every day, some article or commentary was openly critical of the visit. even the security of the pope was made into a debatable issue. an idiot could read between the lines and photo captions and realize that the pope was not as exactly welcome as even president bush was.

and the islamists' rally on sunday... first, it must be said that moderate or hardline, the entire pious press was laudatory about the protest and the size of the crowd it mustered. all tv channels and all newspapers showed sights very similar to those in other islamic geographies where hordes dressed in chadors, head covers, long baggy trousers, wearing caps, beards and buttoned-to the top chemises, chanting "god is great" (allah u akbar) and singing praise to osama bin ladin and similar persons of grand valor protesting the pope's arrival, in fact, quite contrary to the myth of the much bragged about turkish hospitality, inviting him not to come.

now look at the turkish press. hurriyet brazenly claims that by reporting all that they have been reporting these days, the "western media" is adopting a "biased and prejudiced attitude toward turkey".

and suddenly all roses have bloomed - the pope has endorsed turkey's accession to the european union. who says the pope sanctifies turkey's eu identification? premier tayyip erdoğan!

do not be surprised, if you ask me, should vatican delicately deny such a statement by his holiness (who happens to be skeptical about turks' european identification). turkey's prime minister is not very fluent in other languages.

Monday, November 27, 2006

oh, about the "meeting of civilizations"... for some unfathomable reason, turkey's present political "rulers" have, out of the blue, assumed the mantle of spokesmanship for the "islamic" world, or what they presume to be islam. regardless of the fact that islam is not or has never been a homogeneous, monolithic entity but its practice has ever depended on different, sometimes conflicting hermeneuses of the qur'an, they have rhetoricized a concept of the religion that encompasses a sizable chumk of the globe with the plethora of the experiences it consists of and posited an "islamic civilization" as opposed (supposedly) to a "christian civilization"... oh yes, one, single, unanimous civilization that extends as comprehensively to norway, bolivia and the phillipines, of christianity which is only slightly less divided into sects than polytheist paganisms.

first, a civilization is not definable by religion. the greatest civilization in the known history of the earth, the hellenophonic eastern mediterranean civilization was neither "zeutic" nor olympian.

so, if you think you can challenge modernity in any way, first, at least concede its primary rule of pluralism and act civilized toward it: be ready to discuss and accept.

"ignorant and insidious pope, do not come!" - that was the slogan of the rally convened by erbakan's political heirs and apparently was able to draw a mentionable crowd.

a pope cannot be ignorant, he is far more well and harshly trained than any moslem clergy and especially any state official who heads turkey's only dubiously secular directorate general of religious (read that exclusively as sunni muslim) affairs.

to say nothing about common decency, courtesy and hospitality.

oh yes... civilization is not religion, though it encompasses faiths. nor is it a preconceived set of behavioral or visual stencils. to summarize, it is basically a conviction that "we" possess a "good" style of mind and life which can maintain our network of collective relationships, our structure and norms of existence in a state of flexibility that can respond to arising challenges adaptively.

show that you are civilized, that you can adapt before you apostolize yourself.

p.s. - "adaptive" is not necessarily synonymous with conformism or compromise.
one word on turkey's long, narrow, winding and treacherous trek toward and away from the european union:

a very simple act, one required anyway by the aggreements ankara has signed, dictated by logis and a prerogative of democracy is enough to postpone the hairy issue of practically recognizing the internationally accepted government of cyprus: open the clerical school in halki (heybeliada), fully restore the holdings, titles, rights of the organizations and individuals legally recognized as minority turkish citizens in lausanne and declare that what remains of jews, armenians rums assyrians, chaldeans, nestorians, zaraostrians, atheists and agnostics are fully enfranchized citizens of the republic of turkey.

is that not, in the rhetoric of the last 35 years, what lay beneath the military intervention in cyprus, the discrimination turks were subjected to?

you do not like the pope? slip one over him, give bartholomeos 1 the power he needs.

after all he is a citizen of the republic of turkey!!! do not spare from one of yours what can empower you.

to be cont'd

garfucius will continue commenting on the pope's visit

turk is better than the pope

my buddy john karkazis of the panepistemiou aegeo views the pope's visit as a latter day gambit by the holy see to devour the shrunken orthodox church into the bigger belly of the vatican. the current pope, as every single other pope since the 4th century, thrives on the hope of uniting christianity! quite a few councils have convened to bring about a reunion of orthodox and catholic christianity since the great schism over the filioque issue, namely, whether the spritus sancti proceeds from both god the father and jesus the son, or just from the father.

the last, and possibliy saddest, of all those councils convened in firenze in 1439. after long debates, mostly left over from two previous councils in italy, the issue was almost resolved, constantinopolis even agreed to concede the primacy of the pope and the latins promised military aid to byzantium besieged by the ottomans. however, although the byzantine emperor favored the aggreement drawn in firenze, the orthodox bishops and the people, already hating the catholics for their two century rampage and pillage of the eastern lands during the last crusade that ended in constantinopolis, had little trust left in store for the latins: "better the turk's turban than the pope's tiara"...

no trouble reading between the lines of history: the byzantine church buckled before Eugene IV, the then pope, because its true leader was not the patriarch but the emperor himself. his throne threatened terminally by turks, he turned to the latins and was promised the backing he asked for in return for the concessions. however, by then the emperor had already lost the support of his own people and the clergy and the deal fell through.

in fact, it is naive to assume that christianity was divided because of an essentially unresolvable issue of whether it is the father alone that generates the holy spirit or the father and the son together. back when constantine was erecting his oriental despotic eastern roman empire he needed to appropriate religion to legitimate his own total power. he hardly could afford to appeal to another authority, namely, the pope, to ask divine approval for his politics.

meanwhile, if europe eventually evolved into a secular, lay form of christianity, it was because from the start, divine and worldly power was effectively divided between the holy see and the princes scattered over the continent, jealously protecting their authority within their fiefs. there never emerged a comprehensive total power in feudal europe comparable to the mediterranean empires that could centralize authority, and appropriate the papacy into schemes of holy justification. the closest was spain of the habsburgs, a quasi-oriental state. and such was its abuse of jesus's teaching that in the lay mind, the atrocities of the spanish inquisition are still blamed on the much more lenient catholic inquisition practiced by the holy see.

oh... do i hear someone say "what about carolus magnus, the holy roman empire of the germans?"who am i to contradict voltaire "it is not holy, it is not roman and it certainly is not an empire"...

pope benedictus the 16 does unequivocally desire to unite the christian churches under the holy see, a very legitimate wish for the leader of the largest religious population and organization in the world. however, if eugene 4 could not pry orthodoxy from the claws of the ottomans, there seems to be no his current german successor can sway o kyrio bartholomeos 1 over the way of the vatican when turkey has come to the verge of admitting, if not accepting and incorporating, the presence (not existence, please!) of the orthodox church.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

political adolescence

prof. dr. atilla yayla was suspended from his teaching assignment at the gazi university of ankara because during a meeting organized by the ruling akp, he allegedly was "unduly" critical of atatürk, turkey's founder, his reforms and kemalists, who rather than his followers, give the impression they are his idolatrists and ierocrats.

in any civilized country, yayla's comments would be, at best, insignificant. here, they cost him his job, or at least his teaching mission, and put him in possible jeopardy in case he dares walk in public and a hot head decides to teach him his lesson, maybe with weapons or clubs!

this type of collective sociopathic sycophancy, the malaise of treading the official (in the early 50's it would probably be called the authoriatarian) line of discourse is turkey's bane that will never go away. we think freedom of thought and expression is only limited to ideas and utterances that are not too incompatible with ours.

or, you are free to do what you want as long you want what we want you to want.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

irritative comments

the homily “one picture is worth a thousand words” denotes, at best, a gross inability to abstract from the eidetic.

dangerous thoughts

enigma is the best inspiration for souls in search of a faith.

Monday, November 20, 2006

world peace

i have assigned the first chapter of albert camus's the rebel (l'homme revolte - though that sounds like "the revolting man" in english) as compulsory reading for sophomore students in the "communication and politics" class. the chapter asks the crucial question "who is a rebel?" and gives the essential answer: someone who says no... the rest of the long essay argues that it is what a man says yes to that determines the nature of rebellion and the definition of rebel, basically pirouetting around the idea that the rebel is one who says no and that's it!

i came accross a few do-gooder, bleeding heart declarations over the weekend, part of the inescapable, involuntarily encountered junk-info flux. one about abuse of women and children said a (thankfully, not the at least) root cause of family violence was poverty, ignorance and the assorted aetiologia and urged that these social ills be remedied. wow! what an insight!

they could be repeating that illuminative diagnosis till every wife & child is bled to death by demonic males...

violence is very satisfactory and often productive (instrumental) for the powerful. that functionality makes it desirable in addition to the psychological and psychopathological perks it offers.

well, awright (arwight, if you're a ner yowkew), we say nay to violence, we're rebels.

come and stop it with truckloads of academic cloaca bovinus... or say what you say yeah to.

stupidity cannot stop violence but violence can stop stupidity - although they often run synomymously parallel courses.
pope benedictus xvi is slated to visit visit turkey "officially" tomorrow. since he is a "head of state", too, that is supposed to be an "official" state visit to president ahmet n. sezer but benedictus xvi is also coming as an invitee of his orthodox quasi-counterpart, patriarch bartholomeos 1.

if you ask me, o kyrios bartholomeos is the best and ablest politician alive in turkey - though that is for another posting. suffice now to say, this double invitiation also leads to a load of political double entendre. o kyrios bartholomeos is and has been a persistent headache in turkey's limited-scope global vision. he is the nominal head of the some 250 million orthodox christians, most of them living in russia and its ex-sovietic periphery, and slavs of the balkans numbering no less than 50 million. his "ecumenical" celestial authority is well recognized. however, his dubious presence and status in "secularly moslem" turkey has practically undermined his authority. there is an orthodox patriarch in russia since his sway over the steppes loosened in about the 18th century, greek ones in jerusalem, alexandria and the archdiocese in greece, in effective command also of the monastery in mt. athos, the breeding ground of the elite of the orthodox clergy, openly vies istanbul for supremacy, if not primacy. archbishop christodoulos is as opposed to o kyrios bartholomeos as turkey.

the pope's visit can be viewed as a tacit but very loud appeal to turkey to concede the presence of a non-moslem, particularly christian presence in the country and recognize its rights. as a matter of fact, vatican's spokesmen openly state that fact.

bartholomeos 1 is a turkish citizen. turks who go crazy with joy if one of their own plays in a major league european team somehow can find only grief and vexation that a turk comes to lead a quarter of a billion people and fail to find pride in that. worse, the state apparatchiks and inept politickers fail to see the power it affords.

turkey, though officially unspoken, is very much disturbed by the title "ecumenic" that the patriarch uses. traditionally, ecumenic is the sanctioned title that comes with the position and the way to address the patriarch. yet, whenever, especially a western official refers to o kyrios bartholomeos as such, displeasure reigns in ankara. a dive into the history of that psychology hints that the apprehension leads back to the ottoman heritage: first, turkey may be fearing that admitting the ecumenic status of the patriarchate will remind of istanbul's (and the marmara straits') prior ellenicophonic, byzantine past. this fear becomes more real when one remembers that the first break from the ottoman empire was the very orthodox greek state in 1829. then, the serbians had long been restive at the time the greek uprisal began and they were orthodox, too. throughout the 19th century, turkey kept losing its territorial holdings to russia in one form or another, who kept defeating turkey in war after war it entered under the pretext of being the guardian of the orthodox christians under muslim rule. naturally, wary of russian progress, the states of the west moved in to take the christian ottomans under their auspicious wings as well.
the result was a terminally dissolved empire...

the above trek in time also outlines the very superficial and intellectually constipated crusade phobic interpretation of history in turkey - how christians flocked together like birds of a feather and wolfed down the wounded muslim ottomans greedily. they finally divided anatolia, expropriated istanbul and forced turkey to accept the conditions of the sévres treaty - albeit, at the end of an extremely unnecessary war which turkey joined voluntarily, fought alongside very christian germans and austrians and their allies and lost.

the dark shadow of sévres, the ultimate territorial degradation and political humiliation of the ottomans is still reflected in the turkish psyche - so much so that the world wide leadership of a turkish citizen in the spiritual world and the recognition of a christian presence in the country that immensely outweighs the remaining 1500 or so turkish orthodox christians is instantly translated into fears of loss and deprivation.

an(other) oriental malady looms here, that of avoiding what you do not want to hear at the risk of undergoing what you don't want to happen in your life!

achtung! conjugality may be hazardous to human health

just to set the record straight, in case someone reading the title below mis-thinks i get dewy eyed speaking of marriage - there can't be no wedding in heaven as there can be no better hell than matrimony itself.

wedding in heaven

well, it wasn't exactly a 'rainy day, dream away' sort of sunday but the weather was fouler than the whole week and now monday, during the weekend. according to weather.com, we're doing fine in istanbul until this thursday, but lots of wet after that. it's difficult to predict weather accurately for more than three days but this weekend is supposed to be showers all around and sunshine sprinkled in between.
maybe even a couple rainbows.
when rain and sun come simultaneously, turks (used to) say "there's a wedding in heaven".

Thursday, November 16, 2006

delusions of grandeur?

what is it with politicians that once they set their bottoms on the throne, they imagine themselves to be omniscient? i almost never read about or listen to what a pm, minister, party leader or spokesman says but since inevitably i get to hear or glimpse at their shining bits of eternal wisdom. invariably and always inversely proportional to their learning, they think they know or must know or have to know everything under the sun. the late ecevit loved to make a show of his extensive grasp of life, even when it came to technical and non-verbal matters (including economy) in which he was grossly unversed. he was unaware that kw and kwa were different concepts. suleyman demirel, who probably was the most intelligent "leader" turkey saw in the last half century, had something to say about everything too. at a press conference once, he used such a sentence that made it obvious he did not know "weimar" was not a person but a place in germany (at the time, ecevit had tried to capitalize on that, just as demirel had when ecevit openly confused electrical measurements). the putsch president kenan evren could talk with equanimity and authority about all, from rocket science to islamic theology. tansu ciller probably did not even know zilch about economy of which she was a somehow a professor, but had an encyclopedic collection of know-it-all-mistakes, i.e. her statements were a perfect anthology of "how not to..."
why did i write this? the current premier of turkey, a grad of the school of theology, raised to become an imam, is another in that genre of politicos who is in love with hearing his voice. and true to type, he has become a master of disquisition on almost everything in life, without necessarily listening to his own words. yesterday he declared that obesity is a problem of modern life: not just his usual aversion to modernity showing its freudian slip, but he probably would not know the etymological relationship between calory and heat either.
the common denominator here? temptation to show off, knowing no matter what nonsense you speak nobody can dare tell you to shut up? ecevit, the high school grad, demirel the self made village boy, tayyip erdogan the success story of the religious conservative banlieu?
maybe it's ... stately knowledge and wisdom acquired by osmosis, sitting on the "throne"?

come to think of it, prof. erdal inönü, an aristocrat by turkish standards as they come, was the least longwinded politician - and he often made sense too.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

blogging is serious. one must avoid mental diarrhea. but speaking of istanbul (and turkish, and 3rd world) traffic the bowels of one's mind inevitably churn.

traffic mess is only as inevitable as stupidity.

it's always sunny in... where?

hmmmm. this blogging is serious. it feels like yelling in the woods while trekking alone but knowing that not only the campers behind the bush can hear you but also the echoes can carry your voice and words yonder. yell all you like but try to find matters of interest to other people.

then let's talk weather. i follow it closely because being a mediterranean bum, i am deeply affected by rain, cold, sun, warmth - weather also sometimes decides whether i ride or drive to work. especially in istanbul's knotty traffic, that means peace of mind versus a test of patience which, to any bum, is in short supply. even on the motorbike, sometimes i feel fumes coming out of my ears.

never mind traffic now, it is weather i am hung up with: did you notice that even when during weekdays we get sunshine, weekends are usually wet, cold or plain crappy? we're either homebound or sopping wet by act of providence...

Monday, November 13, 2006

(in)famous quotes

"no, no, you're not thinking; you're just being logical." Niels Bohr to A. Einstein

garfucius say...

once there used to be opinionated cusses - in this age of linearization, now even cusses are opinionless.

Thursday, November 09, 2006


i always believed there exist more than one america. one - not necessarily the important one - that vast "piece of land lying between manhattan and california", as bart simpson described it in the tv show and another in what he left out. that cartographic distinction actually reflects the two sides of the u.s. of a.; the global and the local. only a quarter of america's huge economic output is generated on a worldwide scale. a large portion of the country faces inward, rolling the engine of an intraverted economy and a hardly introspective culture of local tints. still wonder why detroit lost to japan? or being fat (no! i won't say obesity!) is a priority social problem?

it was the local america whose balances were challenged by the far more global/international/ transnational dynamics of clinton that elected bush-ism to bolster the inwardly oriented life style and do some house cleaning and setting before globality struck home. however, thumped by 9/11 soon after, the house got only messier. thanks to kerry and the incredible incompetence of the demmies, W remained in charge.

no, america has not unified its two separate facets, that is not why the demmy donkey thumped the elephant now. those troops who die in iraq, they are also overwhelmingly the sons (and daughters, where applies) of the biiiiiiiiig, america with eyes only for itself. this vote is not just an unspoken but loud plea to bring the boys home but also one that demands a new way, a new methodology of relating to the big, bad, hostile world out there. democrat victory depending on a 40 percent participation implies the republicans mostly stayed home.

well i know this is a rather superficial approach to a complicated question but we're doing a blog right? not a science paper. for now, the win puts the democrats ahead in the game of politics, maybe, but not the political game itself. the matter, the concern at the heart of things is not so much winning the war than it is winning the world to a fairly common cause championed by america. anything less is bound to leave the affairs in a mess.

anybody know how far extends the democratic vision ocularis politicus mundus? especially in a world still commanded (commandeered?) by W?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

de mortuis, nil nisi bonum

m. bülent ecevit is "officially" dead now. may god(s) judge him fairly - as we mortals are apparently incapable of it. i saw (on tv, betwixt zaps) this morning how turkey's premier lauded him and i am willing to bet precious parts of my anatomy there was never any love lost between them.
anyway ecevit was loooooooong dead, back in the 1979 by-elections, but this being a political paradise of zombie-ism, he lasted until he was undertaken for good by what should faaaaaaaar longer have been buried. leaving sycophancies of politico-elegism aside, let's take a look at (some of) his career achievements:
*acquired fame as the man who initiated the labor union / organziation, strike / lock out laws in the history of turkish labor. but what labor? at the time, numerically, about 90 out of 100 factories were state owned. the state produced 90 percent of industrial output and employed an outrageous portion of the work force, meaning about 1.8 people did the work of about 0.8 (do not take these stats literally but the coefficient of exaggeration will be staggeringly low if someone bothers to take a count)
hence, the state, the employer, forced itself to pay more to the "proleteriat", boosting its own enterpreneurial costs and establishing hitherto unprecedented credentials of economic productivity. however, that got ecevit votes from that new class of state-laborers who were now financially well above the traditional "owners" the state "fonctionairs", the "bureaucrats" the "memurin" who saw themselves as superior since they were generally "okumuş" (diplomé, schooled).
the labor movement? in the late 60's and the beginning of the 70's the pro commie DISK made its debut in opposition to the TURK-İŞ confederation which practically owned the state laborers, and targeted the privately owned industries - 1971, the military took over, 1973, DISK was effectively but not terminally emasculated. during the blood washed latter 70's DISK declared itself the "belligerent organization of the working class" and the end came on 9/12 1980. labor was surgically aborted from the political equation in turkey.
* when the military launched their "coup by communique" in 1971 (march 12) ecevit declared he was the target. he owned up the lukewarm left-of-center etatism of the republican peoples party (RPP), wrapped it in a vague aura of peronism, corporatism, populism and the like that eventually proved disastrous to the country and rechristened it the democratic left. his post 1983 anti-RPP, family size political affair derives its name from those times. however, the patchwork leftism of the RPP thrice carried him to the throne - well, two and a half times actually. the outcome was unpoliticallycorrectably a catastrophe.
* kenan evren, the strongman of the 1981 coup-proper (nothing in pen and paper abut it, that putsch communicated with bayonet and blood ) said ecevit was a brave man who dared land in cyprus. he also said he was sorry he had sent him to prison in after the takeover. when ecevit landed on the island, everyone of sound sense had expected turkey to withdraw from part of the controlled territory in return for a just settlement. but the politically smart ecevit, hailed then as the conqueror of cyprus (though he always denied this title, albeit, coyly) hoped to translate his charisma into votes and called for early polls. his partner in government, necmettin erbakan (for those who may not know/remember, he happens to be tayyip bey's sensei in politics) yelled wolf: "ecevit is giving cyprus, taken by martyr's blood, back to the greek!!!". down the drain, a settlement; no hero brave enough to bite that bait. after a few weeks, ecevit who resigned from the coalition, refused to continue as caretaker premier and practically walked out, leaving the seat empty. now that must need courage! when ecevit climbed to power, turkey had a reserve of $ 2 bn - a huge sum by the standards of 1974. in one year, the balance was $ minus 2bn.
oh, evren... few months before he was to step down in early 1983 after the elections, denktaş declared the turkish republic of north cyprus. another gift by the strongman to our democracy.
well, i am not sure but i think i heard evren (on habertürk tv) saying he was sorry he sent ecevit to be held in "yassıada". that is actually, the island near istanbul where the democrat party was tried after the 1960 coup d'etat.
* in the mid-70's, heydays of ecevit's popularity after cyprus, he used to tell local and foreign interviewers who asked him about his poetry: "well, every politician has to have a hobby to pass his time when his days in politics are over. an overgrown politician becomes comical, they must quit and deal with other occupations. my poetry will help me in retirement days because i plan to quit before i get old". to my knowledge, he did quit, he did not write one poem in about a quarter of a century.
* nil nisi bonum? is that why (at least in the orient) history, which meant inquiry in greek becomes complete historia (story, tale in latin) ?
* i am never one to interfere with celestial affairs but in case heavenly auteurs decide to judge ecevit, may them know mea culpa, tua culpa, sua culpa etc...

we acquiesced, did we not?


Monday, November 06, 2006

hi folks

weird though it may sound i find myself in the virtual world, like a spook in the world of shadows. i don't really know what this blog, if at all, will or can turn into but erkan and burcu (what? ye don' know em? well they are my official and unofficial assistants and they insisted i start this gagamazzooo!) say i should have a page to publicize my unpublished or long published wisdom and ravings...

so help us all, oh god(s) of words and blabber

gbi (that's my initials)