Friday, November 24, 2006

"All of us are prisoners of a rigid conception of what is important and what is not, and so we fasten our anxious gaze on the important, while from a hiding place behind our backs the unimportant wages its guerilla war, which will end in surreptitiously changing the world and pouncing on us by surprise." pg. 268.

"It takes so little, so infinitely little, for someone to find himself on the other side of the border, where everything -love, convictions, faith, history- no longer has meaning." pg. 281.

"Jan had never shared Passer's admiration for things changing, but he liked his desire for change, seeing it as mankind's oldest desire, humanity's most conservative conservatism." pg. 294.

"When things are repeated, they lose a fraction of their meaning. Or more exactly, they lose, drop by drop, the vital strength that gives them their illusory meaning. For Jan, therefore, the border is the maximum acceptable dose of repetitions.
I am certain, on the contrary, that the border is constantly with us, irrespective of time and our stage of life, that it is omnipresent, even though circumstances might make it more or less visible...
...It takes so little, a tiny puff of air, for things to shift imperceptibly, and whatever it was that a man was ready to lay down his life for a few seconds earlier seems suddenly to be sheer nonsense.
Jan had friends who like him had left their old homeland and who devoted all their time to the struggle for its lost freedom. All of them had sometimes felt that the bond tying them to their country was just an illusion and that only enduring habit kept them prepared to die for something they did not care about. They all knew that feeling and at the same time were afraid of knowing it, they turned their heads away for fear of seeing the border and stumbling (lured by vertigo as by an abyss) across it to the other side, where the language of their tortured people makes a noise as trivial as the twittering of birds." pg. 296, 297. Milan Kundera, from the Book of Laughter and Forgetting.

The Border

I was preparing a job application yesterday. I did some research about this think-tank, found signs of meaning (coincidential likeness between them and I, what they hold important and what I hold important) and got really excited. I worked on my CV, cover letter, tried to make them perfect. Then my parents called and as I was explaining this think tank to them, they started to make jokes. It's upsetting when people take what I care about lightly. Then I start questioning the importance of what I care about. Then I went to a panel discussion EU Enlargement. I listened to the same things being discussed the upteenth time. What I saw unimportant and beside the point was really about to hijack something I cared about. And after the discussion, a Turk told me the upteenth time that if it was so easily going to be hijacked like that, then there was no point working for it, because "they" didn't have good faith. I didn't even attempt to reply the upteenth time, because I was already on the other side of the border.

(And I agreed secretly. I sometimes find these conversations annoying, because I don't comment on what he cares about. Everybody thinks they can comment on what I care about! I wish I studied something so specialized that noone would dare to comment on.)

Maybe it's not important. Maybe I think it's important, because I already invested in it - I can't be objective about its importance anymore. It must be so sad to realize that what you dedicated your life for is actually wrong, or unimportant. Maybe there is a point of no return, you can't accept the unimportance of something after you spend a certain number of years working for it. After that point, you just keep doing what you have done for years, and you try to convince a world that doesn't care that your story has a point to it. (Or, even worse, you continue advocating something that is wrong.)

Maybe that's how people don't believe in a common story anymore, because all of them proved to be wrong or unfeasible. What I know, is that I'm tired of listening to this stuff over and over again, because they lose their meaning all too quickly.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

“Hep birlikte inanacakları bir hikaye kalmayınca, hepsi tek tek kendi hikayesine inanmaya başlayacak, herkesin kendi hikayesi olacak, herkes kendi hikayesini anlatmak isteyecek. Kalabalık şehirlerin kirli sokaklarında, bir türlü çekidüzen verilemeyen çamurlu meydanlarında, milyonlarca sefil, başlarının çevresinde bir mutsuzluk halesi taşır gibi taşıdıkları kendi hikayeleriyle uykuda gezerler gibi gezinecekler.” Kara Kitap, sf. 158.

“Böylece sürekli eğlence arayan bir çocuktan nefret eder gibi hikayesiz yaşayamayan aklından nefret etti. Bir anda, dünyada işaretlerin, ipuçlarının, ikinci ve üçüncü anlamların, gizlerin, sırların yeri olmadığına karar verdi: Bütün işaretler anlamak ve bulmak isteyen kendi aklının ve hayallerinin kuruntularıydı. Her eşyanın yalnızca o eşya olarak varolduğu bir dünyada huzurla yaşayabilme isteği yükseldi içinde; o zaman ne yazılar, ne harfler, ne yüzler, ne sokak lambaları, ne Celal’in masası, ne Melih Amca’dan kalma şu dolap, ne de Rüya’nın parmak izlerini taşıyan bu makasla tükenmez kalem kendi dışındaki bir sırrın şüpheli bir işareti olacaktı. Yeşil tükenmez kalemin yalnızca bir yeşil tükenmez kalem olacağı ve kendisinin de başka birisi olmak istemeyeceği bu aleme nasıl girebilirdi acaba?” Kara Kitap, sf. 276.

"You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever." - Steve Jobs


I like to think that there's meaning to my story. What happened in the past leads up to what's happening now, and what's happening now will lead up to something great and meaningful in the future. When you start thinking this way, all you see is signs of meaning. (When you have a hammer, all you see is nails, as my professor says :) And I can't help but start to guess what will happen in the future. I came to this city because of a series of decisions, but also a series of coincidances. So and so people are entering my life, not earlier, not later, but now and here. Maybe we were in the same place before, but our paths didn't cross until now. There must be a reason why they cross now. This is all so magical.

But then, maybe not. I'm only seeing it because I was looking for it in the first place. I don't want my life to be ordinary, I don't want it to be meaningless. That's why I'm overlooking everything that's ordinary in it, everything that's meaningless, all the idiosyncrasies, everything that doesn't fit the story in my head. And then when the story is stillborn, I get all disappointed.

I should follow Jobs' advice instead.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

The World Is a Beautiful Place by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

The world is a beautiful place
to be born into
if you don't mind happiness
not always being
so very much fun
if you don't mind a touch of hell
now and then
just when everything is fine
because even in heaven
they don't sing
all the time

The world is a beautiful place
to be born into
if you don't mind some people dying
all the time
or maybe only starving
some of the time
which isn't half bad
if it isn't you

Oh the world is a beautiful place
to be born into
if you don't much mind
a few dead minds
in the higher places
or a bomb or two
now and then
in your upturned faces
or such other improprieties
as our Name Brand society
is prey to
with its men of distinction
and its men of extinction
and its priests
and other patrolmen

and its various segregations
and congressional investigations
and other constipations
that our fool flesh
is heir to

Yes the world is the best place of all
for a lot of such things as making the fun scene
and making the love scene
and making the sad scene
and singing low songs and having inspirations
and walking around
looking at everything
and smelling flowers
and goosing statues
and even thinking
and kissing people and
making babies and wearing pants
and waving hats and
and going swimming in rivers
on picnics
in the middle of the summer
and just generally
'living it up'
but then right in the middle of it comes the smiling