Tag Archives: “‘Magnificent Turks’ and the Origins of this Blog”

Alevis and Alawites addendum: a “p.s.” from Teomete

14 Sep
“My rejection to the article of just was bcoz of their evil mind on manipulation by distorting the fact about Alevis +

It’s natural 2 call & ask editorial 2 make correction when they lied or manipulated the facts. U and yr country shld do diz too

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Yeah.  Well.  I don’t have a country, abi.  I’m the citizen of a couple.  And I’m kind of an honorary-guest-citizen of — I think, at last call — about twenty-seven others.  But they’re not mine.  And they don’t belong to me any more than I belong to them.  And I certainly wouldn’t be caught dead running around hiding the truth about any of them and calling it “lying” and “defaming” if others state that truth clearly.  And that’s one thing I honor American society and Protestant conscience and self-examination for having taught me.*  Greeks call what you do “hiding behind your finger.”  In Spanish they have the more poetic phrase: “The sun can’t be blocked with one finger.”

In this blog post of mine:Magnificent Turks’ and the origins of this blog I talk about several Greek brothers who actually think just like you, a Turk.  Imagine.  They think that if you don’t speak the historical truth that it’ll go away somehow.  They think that if you speak that truth it’s because your intent is “evil” — just like you do.  They tell you to “go fuck yourself” when you speak the truth — which you don’t do because you’re Turkish and polite, which I appreciate, and not a foul-mouthed Neo-Greek who thinks he’s oh-so-clever-and-articulate because he’s always got three or four nasty epithets ready on the tip of his tongue to hurl at you.  And they call you κομπλεξικό — that you’ve got ‘neurotic hang-ups’ to translate roughly — because you say and write things that “aid and abet the enemies of our fatherland.”  Who’s got the hang-ups there: me or someone who walks around in 2014 AD using the term “enemies of our fatherland” is up to you to decide.  But I can put you in touch with them if you like, because you all think exactly the same.

Here’s my one country:roosevelt-avenue-jackson-heights-little-india-micro-neighborhoods-nyc-untapped-cities-brennan-ortiz

Photo via Netizen. (click)

…and as you can see most people here have better things to do than be thinking about your kind of närrischkeit.

Comment: nikobakos@gmail.com

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* As an ESL teacher in New York City’s CUNY system for over ten years I frequently had the experience of my foreign students simply left perplexed that Americans were constantly rehashing and criticizing their history.  I’d read the devastating attack on American self-righteousness and paranoia that is Arthur Miller’s Crucible with my students; then we’d read his thorough moral trashing of American capitalism in Death of a Salesman.  Then show them Apocalypse Now and parts of the Burns’ documentaries, Eyes on the Prize or New York: A Documentary Film or even South Park’s Team America: World Police or the brilliant documentary about Iraq by Charles Ferguson, No End in Sight; if I were still there I would be taking them to see Twelve Years a Slave.  Till finally a Brazilian girl said to me: “I dunno, teacher…if you came to my country to study Portuguese, no one would ever tell you that anything bad ever happened in Brazilian history…” both amused and baffled at her own observation.

Checking out this post on the nationalism of little countries might add another dimension to this.

A note on “the tenderness of the warrior”

14 Jun

(See Magnificent Turks and the Origins of this Blog)

Terribleindex

In a book that’ll startle you out of all facile pacifism and easy hawkishness at once, A Terrible Love of War, Jungian analyst James Hillman talks about an urge that comes over many at those times when, as per Hobbes, life has become “brutish” and “short”:

“When these stark truths are steadily before us what comes to our hearts and habits is not more brutish nastiness only, but frequent instances of civility, decency, fairness, and kindness, because the soul recognizes these virtues to be supremely important when limned against the normalcy of “Warre.”  This surprising fact, though seldom and imperfect, has been witnessed in reports from concentration camps, combat soldiers, prisoners of war, and other under extreme duress where the conditions of the day were solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.

These civilized virtues arise as from the underworld of death rather than as preached moralities to be imposed from above.  [emphasis mine]

Later in discussing Stephen Ambrose’ book Band of Brothers (subsequently an HBO series as well) Hillman notes that an astonishingly high but he feels not accidental number of the paratroopers that served in E Company of the American 101st Airborne Division and saw some of the in the most brutal combat in western Europe at the end of the war — landed at Normandy and fought their way to the Alps and Hitler headquarters — ended up becoming high school teachers.

Band91RjqSHbKrL._SL1500_

Somewhat tangentially, someone once said, though I can’t remember who: “No bride tending to that final perfect draping of her veil or geisha having her obi perfectly folded and tied is as engaged in as deep an aesthetic rite of  life and death as a Marine putting on his dress blues.”  The feminine heart at the depth of so much that’s hypermasculine…and death-related, or like Hillman says, the beauty and virtue that arises “from the underworld of death.”

Comment: nikobakos@gmail.com

      

Jesus, guys, I thought my readership was a little bit more literate than this.

12 Jun

CavafyC.P. Cavafy

Where do the lines: Οι άνθρωποι αυτοί ήσαν μια κάποια λύσις.” “Those people were a solution of some kind. come from?!?!  That came at the end of my “‘Magnificent Turks’ and the origins of this blog” post?!?!

They’re from Cavafy (above), from his poem “Περιμένοντας τους Bαρβάρους” or “Waiting for the Barbarians.”  Please…  Let’s get our faces out of the screens every now and then and sit down with a book of poetry.

Τραγικό...

 

Here are the full texts of Keeley’s English translation  and the original Greek below:

 

Waiting for the Barbarians

What are we waiting for, assembled in the forum?
 
            The barbarians are due here today.
Why isn’t anything happening in the senate?
Why do the senators sit there without legislating?
           
            Because the barbarians are coming today.
            What laws can the senators make now?
            Once the barbarians are here, they’ll do the legislating.
 
Why did our emperor get up so early,
and why is he sitting at the city’s main gate
on his throne, in state, wearing the crown?
 
            Because the barbarians are coming today
            and the emperor is waiting to receive their leader.
            He has even prepared a scroll to give them,
            replete with titles, with imposing names.
 
Why have our two consuls and praetors come out today
wearing their embroidered, their scarlet togas?
Why have they put on bracelets with so many amethysts,
and rings sparkling with magnificent emeralds?
Why are they carrying elegant canes
beautifully worked in silver and gold?
 
            Because the barbarians are coming today
            and things like that dazzle the barbarians.
 
Why don’t our distinguished orators come forward as usual
to make their speeches, say what they have to say?
 
            Because the barbarians are coming today
            and they’re bored by rhetoric and public speaking.

Why this sudden restlessness, this confusion?
(How serious people’s faces have become.)
Why are the streets and squares emptying so rapidly,
everyone going home so lost in thought?
 
            Because night has fallen and the barbarians have not come.
            And some who have just returned from the border say
            there are no barbarians any longer.
 
And now, what’s going to happen to us without barbarians?
They were, those people, a kind of solution.

Translated by Edmund Keeley/Philip Sherrard 

Περιμένοντας τους Bαρβάρους

— Τι περιμένουμε στην αγορά συναθροισμένοι;

        Είναι οι βάρβαροι να φθάσουν σήμερα.

— Γιατί μέσα στην Σύγκλητο μια τέτοια απραξία;
  Τι κάθοντ’ οι Συγκλητικοί και δεν νομοθετούνε;

        Γιατί οι βάρβαροι θα φθάσουν σήμερα.
        Τι νόμους πια θα κάμουν οι Συγκλητικοί;
        Οι βάρβαροι σαν έλθουν θα νομοθετήσουν.

—Γιατί ο αυτοκράτωρ μας τόσο πρωί σηκώθη,
 και κάθεται στης πόλεως την πιο μεγάλη πύλη
 στον θρόνο επάνω, επίσημος, φορώντας την κορώνα;

        Γιατί οι βάρβαροι θα φθάσουν σήμερα.
        Κι ο αυτοκράτωρ περιμένει να δεχθεί
        τον αρχηγό τους. Μάλιστα ετοίμασε
        για να τον δώσει μια περγαμηνή. Εκεί
        τον έγραψε τίτλους πολλούς κι ονόματα.

— Γιατί οι δυο μας ύπατοι κ’ οι πραίτορες εβγήκαν
 σήμερα με τες κόκκινες, τες κεντημένες τόγες·
 γιατί βραχιόλια φόρεσαν με τόσους αμεθύστους,
 και δαχτυλίδια με λαμπρά, γυαλιστερά σμαράγδια·
 γιατί να πιάσουν σήμερα πολύτιμα μπαστούνια
 μ’ ασήμια και μαλάματα έκτακτα σκαλιγμένα;

        Γιατί οι βάρβαροι θα φθάσουν σήμερα·
        και τέτοια πράγματα θαμπώνουν τους βαρβάρους.

—Γιατί κ’ οι άξιοι ρήτορες δεν έρχονται σαν πάντα
 να βγάλουνε τους λόγους τους, να πούνε τα δικά τους;

        Γιατί οι βάρβαροι θα φθάσουν σήμερα·
        κι αυτοί βαρυούντ’ ευφράδειες και δημηγορίες.

— Γιατί ν’ αρχίσει μονομιάς αυτή η ανησυχία
 κ’ η σύγχυσις. (Τα πρόσωπα τι σοβαρά που εγίναν).
 Γιατί αδειάζουν γρήγορα οι δρόμοι κ’ η πλατέες,
 κι όλοι γυρνούν στα σπίτια τους πολύ συλλογισμένοι;

        Γιατί ενύχτωσε κ’ οι βάρβαροι δεν ήλθαν.
        Και μερικοί έφθασαν απ’ τα σύνορα,
        και είπανε πως βάρβαροι πια δεν υπάρχουν.

                               __

 Και τώρα τι θα γένουμε χωρίς βαρβάρους.
 Οι άνθρωποι αυτοί ήσαν μια κάποια λύσις.

 

Comment: nikobakos@gmail.com

Addendum to “Magnificent Turks” — the nationalism of little nations

12 Jun

The following passage is from Vasily Grossman, the great Russian-Jewish writer who wrote perhaps the most harrowing book on the Holocaust, the war in the Soviet Union, and the Soviet prison system all in one that has ever been written: his Life and Fate, ( Жизнь и судьба, “Zhizn’ y Sud’ba”) a book that leaves your soul paralyzed and so drained of any molecule of strength, yet still with enough of a living spark of hope left that it can be tended into a new flame; one doesn’t know how; this a combination of a divine gift that both Russians and Jews have been given, I believe.  Could we have been spared this gift, Lord, and along with it some of the horrendous suffering?  That’s a question no one can answer.  Here’s his whole page from Amazon

Life and FateindexHere I’m quoting from a much more diminutive book he wrote about his memoirs in Armenia,  An Armenian Sketchbook, where he was sent on journaiistic assignment, I believe, in the 1950s.  His observations about the beautiful country and its even more beautiful people are all dead-on and loving, but he does have this passage about the patheticness of little-country nationalism, essentially describing the “contentlessness” of that nationalism that I discuss in   “‘Magnificent Turks’ and the Origins of this Blog.”:

“During the twentieth century the importance of national character had been hugely exaggerated. This has happened in both great and small nations.

“But when a large and strong nation, with huge armies and powerful weapons, proclaims its superiority, it threatens other nations with war and enslavement. The nationalistic excesses of small oppressed nations, on the other hand, springs from the need to defend their dignity and freedom. And yet, for all their differences, the nationalism of the aggressors and the nationalism of the oppressed have much in common.

“The nationalism of a small nation can, with treacherous ease, become detached from its roots in what is noble and human. It then becomes pitiful, making the nation appear smaller rather than greater. It is the same with nations as with individuals; while trying to draw attention to the inadequacies of others, people all too often reveal their own.

“Talking with some Armenian intellectuals, I was aware of their national pride; they were proud of their history, their generals, their ancient architecture, their poetry, and their science. Well and good! I understood their feelings.

“But I met others who insisted on the absolute superiority of Armenians in every realm of human creativity, be it architecture, science, or poetry. The temple at Garni, they believed, was superior to the Acropolis, which was both saccharine and crude. One otherwise intelligent woman tried to convince me that Tumanyan was a greater poet than Pushkin. Whether or not Tumanyan really is finer than Pushkin, or Garni finer than the Acropolis, is of course besides the point. What is sadly apparent from these claims is that poetry, architecture, science and history no longer mean anything to these people. They matter only insofar as they testify to the superiority of the Armenian nation. Poetry itself does not matter; all that matters is to prove that Armenia’s national poet is greater than, say, the French or the Russian national poet.

“Without realizing it, these people are impoverishing their hearts and souls by ceasing to take any real enjoyment in poetry, architecture, and science, seeing in them only a way of establishing their national supremacy. This compulsion was so fanatical that at times it seemed insane.”  [The bold emphases of the passage’s are mine]

— Vasily Grossman, An Armenian Sketchbook

 

I can’t think of a better desription of Modern Greeks.

 

Armenianproductimage-picture-an-armenian-sketchbook-321

Garni_5The Temple of Garni: “Να, Ιωνικός ρυθμός…”

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