Sunday, September 02, 2007

s(h)itting at home!

ertuğrul günay has never been on my list of comment-worthy politicians. to me, he has always been like another hundred billion unbeknownst public servants, only mediocre - no insult meant, with the quality of material available, if i had commented on him, i'd probably have slapped him around like a wet rag. still, by my book, mediocre fares worse than bad...

now i am giving günay a chance for public maturity after years of political adolescence. as minister of culture - which, in turkey, is essentially an oxymoron -, i read his first declaration that he goes mad whenever he sees concrete slabs "grinning like decayed teeth in a mouth", obstructing what remains of seven millennia of history all around the country.

i don't know what he can do about it, or what can be done about it - just recently an antwerper told me that bodrum has no character as a city, it is just a collection of cubic slabs. actually, it has become an ugly collection of white slabs in only the last 20 years; the bodrum of 1985 looked slightly different from the bodrum of 1885, and even for my calloused soul, it was an exciting sight, sailing back to home port from some of the most beautiful cruising grounds in the world.

in two years, marked with the stamp of turgut özal's "money and gains before all" philosophy, the entire old town, consisting at least 75 percent of houses built in the 19th century or before the republic (*), was torn down practically in a fortnight, and rebuilt according to the current templates of temples of terribly pedestrian taste. in worst cases, those character-free cubic hovels surrounded and smothered what could not be brought down of the old stone buildings.

disrespect, the peasantly disdain for history and culture were so suddenly released from long suppressed depths of sick souls of the intellectually oppressed that brazen authorities, despite "strict" laws against building on historical remains, could permit a supermarket chain (now acquired by carrefour) to display a six-seven thousand years old rock tomb inside, along and among their stands! it is still there but even shoppers are not aware of what stands next to macaroni or raki.

bodrum's natives, too, were the first to demolish their hundred-year-old family abodes. after 1989, the "populist" mayor overlooked any and all restrictions in the statutes that protected the old town. by 1990, bodrum looked like a shanty town, built overnight somewhere in deep africa, when some lucky dude struck oil.

a couple years later, during an informal meeting, i complained about the devastation of all those beautiful, historic and historical buildings, which, nowadays, grin at you like a reverie from a full mouth of architectural decayed teeth, the wife of a mayor said "well, they were not comfortable at all. we had to go to the garden and relieve ourselves in outhouses".

you see why günay's job is like don quijote's mission against windmills? people don't mind giants, it is the windmills they want felled...

that is why they s(h)it down, in air conditioned, cinderblock, whitewahsed, ugly, expensive shacks that have bathrooms under their roofs, instead of out-houses.

instead of houses to live in and love...

(*) i must note that "old" is not necessarily synonymous with beautiful or good. but aesthetically, bodrum until 1985 was a sight for sore eyes indeed. it represented a historically proven solution to accomodate nature in culture that was monumentalized in stone-craft architecture. i searched for old photos on google but could not find any.
(**) except where it pertained to myths of military conquests that had concluded 400 years ago to be followed by an endless procession of humiliating defeats, and sycophantic, hypocritical idolatry of anything remotely religious as "islamic heritage"...

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