2007-01-30T01:41:40.430-08:00"I never heard of this guy until now, but from what I understand he said some things against this country and he was found guilty. Now you make this guy a hero, I don't get it." --calller on NTV Radio Talk Show "The People's Voice" (Halkin Sesi)
2007-01-26T14:02:11.696-08:00Yasar Kemal: Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.
2007-01-22T18:25:50.923-08:00"I needed to have an operation...he came to my aid...I'm shattered inside, I can't..." --A weeping mourner placing a rose on the ground where Hrant Dink's body layHrant Dink's ShoesTranslated from Turkish in Ekşi Sözlük (Read original here):This shoe is the thing that strangles my heart, that makes me a scattered mess...destititution and poverty is always hard to witness...especially when it goes hand in hand with death...all the tears one has saved throughout the day will be set free and flooded...It will unleash my tears but I can't even begin to think what it will do to his girl who will look at this photograph for an entire lifetime...fathers are the love of a girl's life...no matter what kind of father he is...and if he is a father that makes one proud, she would never want his father to be hurt..she would want her father always to stand up straight...never for his hands to shake...The most painful moment in my life was not when my aunt died, but when I saw my father cry for the first time the day my aunt died..when my father resisted and resisted and when he broke down when I, at last, hugged him...when we were little and when our living standards were below the average, and when he would take us to dinner and provide us with whatever we wanted while he just ordered tea, I would feel storms shattering in me--I couldn't eat when he couldn't eat.And when this was what it was, when I had suffered what I suffered the entire day a thousand fold when I saw this photograph, when I couldn't imagine what I would feel if a saw my father in this way...Delal Dink seeing this photograph, I can't imagine the moment she sees it, and I don't want to...everything aside, a father is laying on the ground, his shoes punctured with holes...for one's father to have holes in his shoes at times fills one with pride, especially a man like this, especially while there are those who speculated about his wealth when it suited them..but sometimes a daughter may see her father in her dreams for a lifetime, her father's shoes...a father who completed his life far too early, and when he died--forget completing his life comfortable and rich--completing his life with holes in his shoes...a father whose life was made into a prison, who dismissed his own life and worried about his family...a father who, loving his homland to the extent of consciously seeing that it could cost his family's life, was declared a traitor...became a fearful pigeon...a father of such scale that one cannot imagine the way he kisses his children..his wife...I hope Delal doesn't see this picture...but if she does, she should not weep...in this country sometimes fathers die with holes in their shoes, they will complete a lifetime with holes in their shoes but their hearts and minds will not bear the tiniest scratch...in this country most eyes won't see the burning livers, won't hear a mother's, tomorrow, a son's scream...and those fathers with holes in their shoes will spend their entire lifetime trying to open those un-seeing eyes and un-hearing ears...those fathers will not leave bank accounts as their finest inheritance but their honor."...and whenever men an women straighten their backs up, they are going somewhere, because a man can't ride your back unless it is bent." --Martin Luther King Jr.Sabah compares the murder of Hrant Dink and Talat Pasha.[...]
2007-01-20T17:30:30.126-08:00Swooping down like the dirty Taksim pigeon
2006-10-05T05:49:08.623-07:00Song of the Day: Odd Man Out Playlist PlayedNot many city-dwellers travel extensively throughout Anatolia, so it's good to see someone at least occasionally go out and relay their observations regardless of some of their preconceived notions (either consequently adjusted or affirmed). Nuri Akkas, a retired professor in Ankara posted this account on his site in Turkish a while back, translated here:A Tale of Two Cities: Tunceli and ErzurumLast week, due to an assignment, I went on an Ankara-Iskenderun-Erzurum-Ankara road trip. Before I forget, and even if it happens to be fragment by fragment, I want to share my observations, especially with regards to the Tunceli-Erzurum aspect. (If I told you there isn't a village left that I haven't seen, I wouldn't be exaggerating that much). Maybe I'll write about my entire East-Southeast observations in more detail some other time.Tunceli is in my opinion the most modern town not only of East Anatolia, but of Turkey as a whole, in terms of its people and their way of life. Without knowing, and out of sheer luck, I arrived in Tunceli a day before the Munzur fesitival began. Besides, I sensed something strange when I entered the city. There were signs on the main road: We don't want electricity from the Munzr dam. Wind electricity is enough for us. Let's protect our nature and our culture. A classic debate topic. A situation similiar to Hasankeyf. Let's leave the Energy-Nature-Culture-wrapped topic for later.Tunceli is filled with soldier-police. Because of the festival, they've brought in additional security forces. There are a lot of army panzers inside and outside the city (We call those armor-plated and armed jeep vehicles "panzers", right?) All the hotels are full. The Army guesthouses, the police guesthouses, teacher guesthouses, school dorms, everyone of them tried. No vacancy. The police didn't think me going back to Elazig at this hour (7 at night) was a good idea. If need be, I decided I would spend the night in my car in a some well-lighted area in the middle of the city, but the people around helped me to get a room in some place in the south of the city. Even though they didn't have hot water, they at least it cold.By not coming into contact with anything, it's possible to spend a short night in the city. Now I know, you're asking, "Is this how the most modern town should be?" But remember, I said, "with respect to the people and their way of life." Otherwise, from a development point of view, Tunceli has lagged far behind. Since it's spread out across a few hilltops, the city has no "city center" concept. I don't think the best hotels out of the few can even manage to get a 3 star rating. Besides a few main roads, the roads are in poor shape. The big Munzur river passes by the city, but the city for some reason has a water problem.The mayor was DEHAP [one of the major Kurdish-identity parties] member (I know that DEHAP mayors usually don't take responsibility for the town's problems from my past trips. For example, Hakkari and Agri, at least 3-5 years ago, main roads included, were like garbage dumps. One couldn't walk around in the winter, from the mud, and in the summer, from the dust. We would use bottled water for "cleaning." I hope it's better now.) From the information I gathered while I was there, 3 out 4 people in Tunceli were Alevi. The one-fourth left were apparently ethnic Turks and Kurds. Out of this demographic, I couldn't understand how a DEHAP member could win the elections. And frankly, I didn't want to get into deep debates or go around asking questions. Perhaps a reader would like to bring this point to light. [As another reader notes on his site, Alevi is a religion and Kurdish is an ethnicity, thus if most of the Alevis are Kurdish it makes perfect sense...that particular reader says that nintey-nine percent of Tuncelis are Zaza Kurds. ]The road that connects Tunceli to the Elazig-Bingol si[...]
2006-09-10T23:22:58.560-07:00You call it Tiffing, I Call It...
2006-08-19T01:49:02.690-07:00Song of The Day
2006-07-26T04:35:52.363-07:00Song of the Day
2006-07-20T10:34:16.720-07:00Song of the Day
2006-08-12T07:37:48.536-07:00Song of the DayWords“I dont suppose anybody ever deliberately listens to a watch or clock. You dont have to. You can be oblivious to the sound for a long while, then in a second of ticking it can create in the mind unbroken the long diminishing parade of time you didn’t hear…Christ was not crucified: he was worn away by a minute clicking of little wheels.”—The Sound and the Fury“I don’t want to administer a program that satisfies the conditions of genocide.” –David 'It's been emotional' Halliday, UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq, referring to the Iraqi sanctions after his resignation from his 34 year career in the UN in 1998.“The humanitarian disaster which has occurred in Iraq far exceeds what may be any reasonable level of acceptable damages according to the principles of discrimination and proportionality used in warfare.” --Richard Garfield, in a 1999 report on that’s often cited as the most conservative death toll estimate (350,000 through 2002).“The best we can say is that in Kosovo, and in Iraq, all-out war has been avoided for the time being. But unless people abide by their commitments, and unless they redouble their efforts to find peaceful solutions, we have every reason to fear the worst in 1999.” –Kofi Annan at the end of 1998. The NATO bombing of Yugoslavia started on March 24th 1999. The invasion of Iraq did not start until four years later on March 20th 2003.“I think this is a very hard choice, but the price -- we think the price is worth it."—Madeline Albright, when ambushed with the but-half-a-million-Iraqi-children-died question by a reporter in 1996.“Most Iraqis…feel they were handed the worst possible outcome from the Gulf War -- sanctions and Saddam.”—Paul Wolfowitz in 1997.“Say what you will about it, it was thirty years of peace.” –Brent Scowcroft in summarizing the last thirty years in the Middle East.“Then they talked about what they would do with twenty-five dollars. They all talked at once, their voices insistent and contradictory and impatient, making of unreality a possibility, then a probability, then an incontrovertible fact, as people will when their desires become words.”—The Sound and the Fury“Outsiders who have not dealt with Iraq cannot easily understand the extent to which the terror of the Hussein years has penetrated that unhappy nation.”—Rolf Ekeus, head of UNSCOM from 1991-1997, currently OSCE High Commissioner of Ethical Minorites, in making the case for war.“Iraq always gave up materials once it was in its interest to do so. Iraq has spent the past 30 years building up an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Although the current threat presented by Iraq militarily is modest, both in terms of conventional and unconventional weapons, it has never given up its intent to develop and stockpile such weapons for both military and terrorist use…The link with al-Qaeda is disputed, but is, in any case, not the principal terrorist link of concern. Iraq has long trained and supported terrorist activities and is quite capable of initiating such activity using its security services.”—the late weapons inspector Dr. David Kelly advocating regime change on his own terms."Ironically, Kelly, like most of the weapons inspectors, probably wasn't suspicious enough of the intelligence on Iraqi WMD."--Juan Cole."When he assumed his post as the chief U.N. weapons inspector inspector in 1997, Richard Butler, an Australian arms control expert, told Anthony Zinni that whether the Americans liked it or not he was prepared to give the Iraqis a clean bill of health if they complied with the terms of the U.N inspections. When Zinni saw Butler again a few months later the UN inspector seemed frustrated beyond endurance. 'He was the ang[...]
2006-07-20T10:35:46.513-07:00Song Of The Day
2006-04-04T11:58:52.640-07:00Ventured into Catalhoyuk last week in order to witness the obstruction of the sun by pocket change...
2006-02-20T09:29:43.903-08:00Valley of the Wolves: Mucking About
2006-02-21T16:09:31.646-08:00For Whom The Bells TollNot hear? When noise was everywhere! It tolledIncreasing like a bell. Names in my earsOf all the lost adventurers my peers,--How such a one was strong, and such was bold,And such was fortunate, yet each of oldLost, lost! one moment knelled the woe of years.-- Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came I looked, and saw between us and the sunA building on an island; such a oneAs to age to age might add, for uses vile,A windowless, deformed and dreary pile;And on the top an open tower, where hungA bell, which in the radiance swayed and swung;We could just hear its hoarse and iron tongue:The broad sun sunk behind it, and it tolledIn strong and black relief.--Juilan and Maddalo "Exterminate Those Who Mock Islam"; "Be Prepared for the Real Holocaust". And so on. And these people have a right to say these things - the very right they are trying to deny others with the threat of violence. “–Andrew Sullivan “Islam makes very large claims for itself. In its art, there is a prejudice against representing the human form at all...This current uneasy coexistence is only an interlude, he seems to say. For the moment, all I can do is claim to possess absolute truth and demand absolute immunity from criticism. But in the future, you will do what I say and you will do it on pain of death….The same point holds for international relations: There can be no negotiation under duress or under the threat of blackmail and assassination. And civil society means that free expression trumps the emotions of anyone to whom free expression might be inconvenient. It is depressing to have to restate these obvious precepts…” --Christopher Hitchens “In America we take our freedom to offend seriously; we would never threaten the lives of artists who paint the Virgin Mary with animal dung, or put a crucifix into a jar of urine -we limit the argument to whether our National Endowment for the Arts will subsidize these artists.” —Daryl Cagle, in one of the best blogs about the bust. It’s been reported in print that the Ayatollah Sistani declared that Denmark should take measures to prevent blasphemy. Fair enough, after all he is the Grand Ayatollah, so this comes with the territory presumably. However, more interesting, CNN International also reported that Sistani had declared that Islamic terrorists brought these cartoons upon themselves. Thus, if the report is true, what we have is a situation where an Ayatollah in Iraq assesses the situation with the same boldness (if not more on occasion) than our own supposedly secular press. That our conservative government meekly suggests “the freedom of speech is not a freedom to insult” is perhaps not surprising (it is of course just such a thing, what it is not is an inclination to insult). However, to hear similar things from those who are not otherwise inclined is truly sad. Yusuf Kanli in the Turkish Daily News writes: “We must, however, once again clearly underline our strong conviction that there's a limit to all freedoms…freedom of expression and the free press understanding should not and cannot entail the right to hurt the feelings and insult the beliefs of people of other religions.” No, what it should be limited to is that which incites violence and can be directly connected to acts of violence. And by “inciting violence,” one does not mean inciting it against themselves as they seem to have done in this case. Had the printing of these cartoons themselves been traced directly to the harassment of Muslims then they may have had a point, and no I don’t think “contributing to a general atmosphere of discrimination[...]
2006-02-08T07:44:26.763-08:00The National Lampoon: Mehmet Ali Agca and the Nevsehir 5"Those who want to continue their lives in this regime, must unite in defending it against terrorism. Those parties against terrorism, the ones that must be against terrorism, must support each other, must formulate their conditions without delay. To lean towards the use of questionable methods, will be to fall into the terrorists' trap. The masses and responsible institutions, without allowing this to happen, without breaking from democracy, must overcome this--must be able to overcome this. This madness must be stopped."--Abdi Ipekci, July 13 1978, quoted by Can DundarAs Can Dundar notes in his recap of the Mehmet Ali Agca case, Abdi Ipekci, then editor of Milliyet, was murdered by Agca six months after he wrote those words. Although there are many gaping holes in the story of Agca up to the shooting of the Pope, one doesn't need to elaborately apply conspiracy theories to explain his early, if short-lived, release after he had shot the Pope. He was sentenced to 36 years for the murder of Ipekci, and the time he served for shooting the Pope in Rome was counted towards the murder sentence. As I understand it, that supposedly left 16 years he had to complete from 2000 on. But the 10 year Amnesty given to all criminals during Ozal's time (which no one argued against because everyone and their grandmother had people in jail), had reduced that sentence to six. On top of all that, people had argued that Agca had neither served 20 years (a little over 19) in Rome or completed the hacked sentence of 6 years (five-someting) in Turkey. Thus the minor correction, and the re-arrest of the Messiah (for the next four years, that is). When asked by the reporters if he was God during his arrest, Agca replied, "No I'm not God...I'm not God, I'm Jesus Christ....I'm just Jesus Christ."Of course, what the outside press usually doesn't mention is that prior to the shooting of the Pope Agca was arrested for the murder of Ipekci and put into a military prison, somehow escaped wearing a military uniform a few months later, and ended up in Rome to shoot the Pope a year or so after that. In fact, after he escaped from prison a note was left at the Milliyet bureau in which the writer claimed to be Agca and stated that he was going to go shoot the Pope. Can Dundar explains in his piece that the four besides Agca that are associated with the murder of Ipekci are Catli (the one who sheltered Agca in Turkey), Celik (the person who is believed to have ordered to murder), Ozbey (the one Agca claimed to be the assassin), Sener (the one who got Agca involved) are all connected to Nevsehir (Cappadocia). Ugur Mumcu, who looked into the case, found out Agca got his passport to escape the country from the Nevsehir Security Bureau. Not only that but four of the five in the group have their passports stamped by the same bureau. In June 1980, Zeki Tekinel, a CHP government lawyer in Nevsehir was murdered by ultranationalists. The person sent to jail for the murder was Omer Ay, who also got his passport from the Nevsehir Security Bureau. Can Dundar writes, "Agca's passport # was: 136 635, Ay's passport # was: 136 636." Not the brightest of fellows it must be said. Before journalist Ugur Mumcu found out who had been their connection at the bureau, he was assasinated by a bomb attack in 1993. That connection at the bureau surfaced years later in the Susurluk scandal. Ibrahim Sahin, a person brought to trial for his part in the scandal, testified that he had worked at the Nevsehir Security Bureau up until 1982. There was also a photo found of him next t[...]
2006-01-08T11:06:14.093-08:00From Anatolia with Love...and Bird Flu
2005-12-18T17:25:00.090-08:00Idiocy Masquerading As...IdiocyAs we were defeating the PKK, we were wary of offending our Kurdish brethren, so we refrained from criticizing the Kurds. We refrained from saying how primitive the tribal structure and the status of women in their culture. We did not try to prevent the politically motivated population growth. We said, �This entire homeland is yours.� We concealed our knowledge that their myths about their �glorious history� were a fabrication. In the end they have mustered the audacity to claim that they are one of the two founding groups of this state. And now we want our togetherness to continue on the basis of this falsehood. To the victor go the spoils...Get this--we botched this whole Kurdish integration mess because we...killed them with kindness! Are...you...kidding...me. Gunduz Aktan, our esteemed former ambassador, is on dangerously retarded ground...Yes, it's true the State didn't criticise the Kurds enough, this might have something to do with the fact that it was occassionally busy supporting religious fundamentalist outfits in order to fight the PKK. And then one has the audacity to claim that their tribal structure and treatment of women is somehow unique when the state was supporting those who dabbled in the virtues of honor killings. One can hardly begin to decrypt the vileness that is contained in the phrase "We did not try to prevent the politically motivated population growth." What did you have in mind? A Modest Proposal? In here lies the belief that the Kurds are going to multiply in droves and take over the entire country while the country lies helpless as its hands are mercilessy tied behind its back by...democracy. Who, after all, needs the PKK when you can get it on, all night long? Democracy for Gunduz Aktan is so fragile and pathetic that sheer population growth is going to make Turks slaves to those redneck myth-fabricating Kurds he hates so much (and whose redneckness and tribal customs don't seem to prevent them from being so wonderfully Machiavellian). Way to go, retard.On a related note, there's an amusing anecdote from the days of Demirel's presidency...Demirel is on a tour of the southeast, stopping at a village to give a speech, he says to the villagers that have gathered around him: "You know, one of the main problems in Turkey is population...we have to be careful of controlling it. Everyone should be careful about having families that are not too big..." Then suddenly, a forlorn looking villager speaks up from the crowd: "Sir, we had one source of entertainment in our lives, and you're robbing us of that too..."Fusion Paranoia"There was a continuing contrast between the violence with which he would sometimes state his political opinions and his private gentleness and sensitivity." --John Judis on Michael Kelly"If you happen to maintain that the ban on the headscarf needs to be lifted, they fire back, 'Article one!' If you happen to vouch for minority rights, they retort, 'Article two!' If you are a resolute believer in Turkey's European Union accession and support the implementation of the necessary reforms fully and immediately, you are accused of 'Article three'" --Elif Safak"Being burned for a witch by English brutes is not calculated to bring out the best in anyone." --Harold Bloom on Shakespeare's Joan of ArcA couple of weeks ago the Torque, referring to Hasan Cemal's criticism of a top general, wrote:"What is more noteworthy is the courage...with which a Turkish secular colu[...]
2005-09-20T15:30:03.010-07:00The Power of Numbers in AbsentiaWhen probabilty theory profs attack, and shoot at their ex-colleagues. A very unromantic and fascinating read even though they gave him his own villian name, Gary Wise a.k.a Dr. Counterexample, and an interactive timeline of the downward spiral.__________________________________Drinking Lemonade with Selim's VizierFrom Slate's A Week at the Trial of Slobadan Milosevic:To the surprise of exactly no one, Seselj sails off on an expansive discourse about the historical origins of Serbian national consciousness, railing about "the Ottoman yoke," "the Austrian yoke," and "the Venetian yoke," and enthusiastically detailing the machinations of 15th-century European politics. When all is said and done, it turns out that Seselj's theory lumps just about all the former Yugoslavia (except Slovenia and a few districts in Croatia) into Greater Serbia. As Seselj explains it, Yugoslavia's real problem was its peoples' blinkered inability to recognize that they were basically all Serbs: "An overwhelming majority of today's Croats are Catholic Serbs. All Muslims in Bosnia and Herzegovina [are] Muslim Serbs." At which point I started nervously loosening my tie in expectation. Then in parenthesis:This is eerily reminiscent of Kemal Ataturk's insistence that there are no Kurdish people, only "mountain Turks."Doh. Remember when Hamlet says, "The play 's the thing wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king, " and everyone around him does the circular finger motion around the ear?_______________________________________________Brendan Simms in bosnia.org:Most Muslims were simply not interested in hearing that the US government had been a staunch supporter of Bosnian Muslims. By the time I added that prominent American Jews – among them Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz – were leading protagonists of intervention on behalf of the Bosnain Muslims, they had switched off. Bosnia and Kosovo were simply subsumed into their broader narrative of Muslim victimhood....In the case of present-day Britain, there is a further paradox. Many of the Labour supporters of the removal of Saddam Hussein – such as Peter Mandelson, Peter Hain and – had been strong critics of the inaction on Bosnia. Mr Blair himself was the most principled supporter of intervention in Kosovo, including the deployment of ground troops, if necessary. In that sense European Muslims have had no firmer friend than the Prime Minister, a fact acknowledged by the mainly Muslim Kosovar Albanians among whom he enjoys iconic status. Yet so far, not one of the hundreds of British Muslim and para-Muslim voices I have heard since 7/7 has ever suggested that Muslims should have particular reason to be grateful to Tony Blair. They too seem wired in a way that we cannot reach...We should remind ourselves and others that European Muslims were the first to benefit from the recent surge in western interventions, some of which were certainly on the wrong side of positive international law.____________________________________________________Dogu Ergil on September 6-7th (TDN):These thoughts occupied my mind on the days when we sadly commemorated the destructive events that transpired in Istanbul exactly 50 years ago that is alluded to as the Sept. 6-7 events. What happened on those days half a century ago is of utmost importance for Turks to face their history and understand the ideological fabric of their political culture. There is enough data on hand to interpret the true nature of those events and sufficient liberties to disc[...]
2005-09-12T03:15:12.956-07:00How about Never? Is Never Good For You?Good Song from 1929. (Moistworks) stock market crash metaphor?In reference to the ancient-ness of my last post, Bilge Ebiri has two pieces on the last Istanbul Film Festival.In June, Yektan Turkyilmaz was arrested in Armenia and charged with trying to smuggle books out of the country and was finally released in mid August (Blogrel and Onik posted updates and pictures of the trial). The guy is a Ph.d candidate in cultural anthropology at Duke University and it was his fourth visit to the place. Signatures and letters were sent in protest to the President of Armenia, but I'm sure he held back from giving a detailed response so he could start getting letters from really cool people, you know, like Bob Dole. Turkish media coverage has been very mild on the subject, probably in part due to Turkyilmaz's work not being too kind to the official Turkish thesis. Meanwhile a Turkish documentary maker Berke Bas is doing a piece on Armenian orphans taken in by Turkish families ("We do know that it was on a scale that the then rulers of the Ottoman Empire issued secret orders to punish families who saved Armenian children"--Professor Selim Deringil). The conference by Those Fuckers that was postponed at Bogazici (Bosphorus) University is now re-scheduled for the end of "September". Orhan Pamuk has just been charged for the "public denigration of the Turkish identity" according to our kick-ass penal code and faces 3 years of jail time if convicted because he failed to collect 200 when he passed Go--I mean--because he blabbed to the Swiss about Armenians being killed 90 years ago. Pamuk's defense team will try to make their case by arguing that Switzerland isn't even a country.Shalom & Kasuri, the foreign ministers of Israel and Pakistan (not to be confused with the famous contortionists) hung out in Istanbul recently. According to the Israeli foreign minister, Erdogan suggested the meeting to Sharon when he called to congratulate him on the Gaza withdrawal. At one point, Shalom was heard referring to Kasuri as "the shrewd schlemiel", but in a good way.___________________________________________Guess You Had To Be There"The interesting thing is that the same person who goes to see the film The Brown Bunny, and groans as the insects pile up on Vincent Gallo's windshield, will curl up at home with Everything is Illuminated and chuckle approvingly at finding the phrase "we are writing" printed 191 times in a row. (Such assuredness--and in one so young!) In short, two aesthetics often exist in the same mind: a moviegoing aesthetic that trusts primarily in personal taste and perception, and a reading aesthetic that is more likely to defer to established opinion. Which brings us back to the style that established opinion holds so dear. " -- B.R. MyersMcCarthy is probably best known, though, for a rather different register, in which his prose opens its lungs and bellows majestically, in a concatenation of Melville and Faulkner.--James "Good Cop" Wood[Cormac] McCarthy has never been much interested in consciousness and once declared that as far as he was concerned Henry James wasn’t literature. Alas, his new book, with its gleaming equipment of death, its mindless men and absent (but appropriately sentimentalized) women, its rigid, impacted prose, and its meaningless story, is perhaps the logical result of a literary hostility to Mind. --James "Bad Cop" Wood, same reviewThere's something about book reviews that give them more of a solid[...]
2005-05-05T13:19:30.406-07:00Staring at the SunAfter all is said and done, looks like one of the best things to come out of Istanbul film fest is Pelin Esmer's doc, Oyun (Play). Not one of those fancy Errol Morrissy productions, but Esmer is able to handle and shape the strength of her subject. blurb: A group of village women are coaxed into forming a theater troupe and ambivalence morphs into ego battling. Gender-bending hilarity mucks up an already gender-bended locale; the women do all the muscle work by day and gleefully play their drunk and lazy wife-beating husbands by night. A lot of wise choices prevent this from being the usual oh-poor-them tearjerker--like when feminine subtlety clumsily begins to creep into their hardened routine and gives rise to the occasional stumble. The rather awfulness of the doc preceding it might have something to with my impressions, but I'm betting against it._________________________________________________________________Dementia and SchismWow, what a shitty couple of months of politics. It often helps to hear people like Mehmet Altan say that they didn't think they'd be alive to see the amount of progress that's been made in the last few years. The only solid good news these days seems to be Kemal Dervis going to the UNDP.Now that the leader of the Nationalist Party (MHP) has spoken out against extremism ("instead of guns, buy laptops"), the position of the far right party is quickly becoming indistinguishable from the supposed center left CHP oppostion. Add to that the recent resignations from the AKP, mostly due to those who think the party isn't looking out for the national interest ("selling out Cyprus" etc), thus causing the party to adopt nationalist tones, and you have a big blob of status quo with the adjective "progressive" wiped off the entire political landscape. Mehmet Ali Birand calls the Nationalist Party leader a "forward-thinking statesman", and tries to drag him to the center:I would like to remind all that Bahçeli had previously shown his stature as a statesman while the MHP was a coalition partner in the MHP-Motherland Party (ANAP)-Democratic Left Party (DSP) coalition. If he had not neutralized the extremes in his party and had not put the interests of the country over party politics, Turkey would never have been able to pass the necessary EU harmonization laws. Permission for Kurdish education and broadcasting and the annulment of capital punishment would never have happened. If Bahçeli had wanted to, he would have called the nationalists to the streets, influencing Parliament into not passing the packages. The MHP leader is carefully executing his policies without straying from party principles. He is thinking of long-term objectives while concentrating on the moment. This way he is saving the MHP from turning into a marginal group that derives its power from street violence. The MHP is gradually becoming a party that is in harmony with the system and capable of representing the government during EU negotiations instead of being perceived as a feared party with an extremist agenda. I would think though that the Nationalist Party is rather redundant when you have an actively political military. After all, the reason why Bahceli didn't speak out loudly has a lot to do with why the military didn't speak out loudly. Who needs the MHP when the military is much more effective in bringing people to the street? Then again it has its use when news (In Turkish) comes out that Turkes (the nationalist party [...]
2005-04-09T05:25:41.706-07:00Him With His Mouth, and Also a FootChildishness is not a obstacle to survival--he said it, and he proved it, in a way that would have made utilitarians jealous. I already used his own title for the last post, but if there were ever a running bet on the "when are they going to die already" posse, I would've thought Saul Bellow would outlast many of his juniors, including the Polish wonder kid and Castro. Most seemed to find it rather annoying that a writer of his talent was still alive. It did have its uses though, as Joan Acocella noted: "The Library of America has now run out of dead Americans, and so, for only the second time, it has devoted a volume to the living." Bellow would have perhaps cracked a smile on the "run out of the dead" remark. To his credit, he kind of kept out of the way, though new books would unfortunately remind people he was alive--good new books, which added even more emphasis on the alive part. I have an ultimately misguided tendency to think that his playful thoughts were always in close proxmity to death, no matter what his age, and that acted as some kind of antibiotic. And I think, by his own admission, such thoughts had something to do with a near-death experience when he was a child. Vulnerability can go a long way. He would handle modernity at the edges and the cross currents, keeping it from flowing through his work entirely like DeLillo or DF Wallace. Keep it at bay, seemed to be the slogan, although characters would often find shrapnel lodged in their psyche:What do you do about death--in this case, the death of an old father?...Take this matter of mourning, and take it against a contemporary background. How, against a contemporary background, do you mourn an octogenarian father, nearly blind, his heart enlarged, his lungs filling with fluid, who creeps, stumbles, gives off the odors, the moldiness or gassiness, of old men...Think what times these are...the Lufthansa pilot in Aden is described by the hostages as being on his knees, begging the Palestinian terrorists not to execute him, but they shoot him through the head. Later they themselves are killed. And still others shoot others, or shoot themselves...We know what goes daily through the whole of human community, like a global death-peristalsis.Maybe this kind of direct confrontation put some people off, but it was also the source of things. The characters, when confronted, were trying to face these questions head-on. And the art was in the bursting of the seams. I read somewhere that "he was good as describing faces," which made me laugh--a great epitaph really, but faces?The round face had lengthened, and a Voltarian look had come into it. Her blue stare put it to you directly: Read me the riddle of this absurd transformation, the white hair, the cracked voice. My transformation, and for that matter yours. Where is your hair, and why are you stooped? And perhaps there were certain common premises. All these physical alterations seem to release the mind. For me there are further suggestions: that as the social order goes haywire and the constraints of centuries are removed, and the seams of history open, as it were, walls come apart at the corners, bonds dissolve, and we are freed to think for ourselves--provided we can find the strength to make use of the opportunity--to escape through the gaps, not succumbing in lamentations but getting on top of the collapsed pile.When I was a kid, some teacher off-handedly to[...]
2005-03-23T13:25:17.943-08:00From a very talented individual who's going for everything under the sun.More Die of HeartbreakHis characters are equipped not with obligingly suggestive childhoods or case-histories, but with a cranial jukebox of situation comedies...their dreams and dreads all mediated secondhand. They are not lost souls or dead souls. Terrible and pitiable...they are simply junk souls; quarter-pounders, with cheese. --Martin AmisWatching Lawrence of Arabia on video is like looking at a postcard of "Guernica" that's been folded six times, tucked into the pocket of a ratty pair of jeans, and laundered for eleven hours. --Mike D'AngeloThe Istanbul Film Festival is starting up in a few weeks, which hopefully will allow me to catch up on the Asian invasion led by Memories of Murder, Nobody Knows, 3-Iron, 2046, Tropical Malady, Sympathy for Mr. Vengence along with Kings and Queen, Whisky, and The Holy Girl and others. There are tribute screenings for Polanski and Neil Jordan (not my cup of chai). There is also a "Jane Campion and Harvey Kietel Special", unfortunately and lamely titled, because it only consists of a screening of The Piano. The French hottie Emmanuelle Beart was supposed to drop by for her film The Art of Breaking Up, but cancelled due to police brutality during Women's Day protests. To which I'll respond with my nonexistent french: Sophie range la vaisselle dans le bahut (Sophie stores the china in the sideboard). Harvel Keitel will still be there though, fitting I guess for The Bad Lieutenant (Place that bet, I'm a cop!).The great thing about this era is that you can put out an absurdly extensive list of cinematic statistics and obscure polls by heady people (or heady polls by obscure people) without getting lynched for wasting valuable resources. Apparently Mike D'Angelo noticed...and put out 60 pages of the stuff for this year, with lots of space left for marginal musings (not on the web anymore). The likes of Dogville, Eternal Sunshine, Before Sunset, Kill Bill, Hero, are up there somewhere. The voices of dissent sections are especially amusing, so I'll throw some on here.What may be second nature in the normal world, is rebellious territory in Plato's celluloid cave. It's surprising to find that someone actually liked The Village. Don Marks remarks with a straight face that "the film comes by dread honestly." Erick Gregerson, pumping up Troy: "Jack Palance was right. A German was needed for Homer." Jim Ridley in genuine awe: "The Polar Express (IMAX 3-D) is simply one of the most astonishing things I’ve ever seen in a movie theater."Veering closer to the cineaste center, Bilge Ebiri goes native:Sure, one could easily see Distant as yet another example of the cinema of static long shots------it’s virtually impossible to read a review that doesn’t compare it to Jarmusch or Tsai, and not without some reason. But what to make then of Ceylan’s impeccable comic timing------is there a better directed humor scene this year than Mahmut switching Stalker for porn? And the comedy isn’t there merely to enliven the proceedings. Drawing attention to the follies of his characters weaves into Ceylan’s greater concerns...Distant has the entire city of Istanbul------cut in half by a massive body of water, covered in snow, ominous skies looming above. The whole city is a failed attempt to keep nature at bay, a place of suppressed emotions, foundering relations, a[...]