Monday, November 26, 2007

"What I would change"

FT Magazine is running a series of essays and a contest with the theme "What I would change?" The following ones, all written by FT journalists, are really good. Especially the first one :)

Forget focus, celebrate breadth, Stefan Stern

Be good, for goodness sake, John Lloyd

Weak with awareness, Jan Dalley

Saturday, November 24, 2007

things in demand

I put my Amy Winehouse ticket for sale on gumtree and got eight responses so far. My ticket only got delivered this morning, and seeing my ticket (which I had bought happily in july) and the eight suitors made me realize its value and keep it. I remembered that Sex and the City episode when Charlotte loses the baby when her parents decide to keep her.

Why do we need the confirmation of other people's demand, the threat of losing something to appreciate its value?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Real World

"Be confident. People draw their strengths from your weaknesses," wrote my mom in an E-mail the last time I came back from Turkey. She also tells me to "keep the tail up" no matter what happens. I can't always follow her advice. I claim I don't want to pretend I'm better than I actually am. I claim it's dishonest. But the real reason is different, I think. First of all, I'm not smart enough. Secondly, I think sometimes being weak can be used as an excuse not to try harder. It's a comfortable place. I'm afraid I'll have to actually be better if I claim I'm better.

But I'm beginning to see my mom's point more and more. My year in London has been a crash course on real world: I've seen a lot that I hadn't before, but the more I see, the more doubtful and confused I get about myself, people, humanity. I discover and I forget - only to realize once again - we draw our strengths from others' weaknesses. Accepting this is maybe as genuine as we can get.

Everything is relative, after all. We need reference points. I'm intelligent if someone is less intelligent than me. I'm paid well if there are people around me who are paid less. If I take different reference points, I could well realize I'm actually not what I thought I was. I guess when you move up the ranks, you get more resistant to different contexts, you reach a more absolute, more robust feeling of success, value, confidence.

A couple of nights ago I went to have drinks with my new colleagues. Our big boss foot the bill (what's the past tense of "foot"?) so we shamelessly kept drinking. At first I really enjoyed the mood, much more relaxed, warmer, friendlier than in the office. But soon after I noticed that people were either gossipping about people not present (whom I didn't know) or talking about the competitors, the business. In the end, you couldn't really learn more about them than you could in the office.

So there's virtue in professionalism, putting on your poker face sometimes. But it's also important to let it down eventually, around some people. I guess it comes with time, trust.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

"what did I want back then?"
"you wanted to be your own person." Frida

"you don't paint because you're good. you paint because you'd die if you didn't paint." Frida

"the straight line is godless." - Hundertwasser

"it was always my intention to bring pleasure to many people. I would like to share beautiful and useful things with people which have a meaning to them and enrich their lives." - Hundertwasser

Blurting out

In Impressionism, I wrote how artists, over time, sought to reflect their feelings rather than imitating the world. Technique became just an instrument to take it all out. Things happen to you, you see things, you feel things and it's too much, too messy, too heavy - maybe they are not that heavy but they weigh on you, because you are not normal -- you have to blurt it all out. This simple fact is your anchor. You take things in and you let them out - they pass through you but in the process, you change things. What comes out is not the same as what went in. You are blended in it, and when people see what comes out of you, they see you.

I went to three exhibitions in Budapest and just watched Frida. I want to jot down a few notes about them - they won't make sense, just a few impressions.


Deep, thick, electric blue is Hundertwasser's colour. Michaela Frey uses details from his work on gorgeous jewellery, that's when I first heard his name. He draws (and then paints) like a small child, his work is so much like a dear friend's, she might be his reincarnation. Lines, colours, windows, raindrops, tears, faces blend into each other, but each piece has something clever in them, a small drop of meaning that quickly appears. And he's not discreet about it, his descriptive titles give it away. He wants to be understood.


He painted nudes and still lives and scenes from First World War and Parisian life and Italian beaches - he painted what he lived and witnessed, basically, but his dark style, simple lines like a caricaturists', the contrasts, the thick strokes of paint, which almost make some objects jump out, account for most of it.

Picasso, Klee, Kandinsky

I didn't quite get Kandinsky's work, but I still liked looking at it, especially "light construction" (because of its name :) and "blue" - which was a beautiful, curvy boat! His work either reminds me of elaborate machines (sometimes decomposed, sometimes intact, but very important and deliberate), space stations or biological forms - ameba or something complete with all its compartments.

Klee's plant according to rules, above the water, legend of the nile and winter hills were all very simple but powerful. So were Andre Derain's the Road to Beauvais and Henri Laurens' sculptures.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

bana güven

sen - hey sen
en son giden sen -
sen olmayacaksın

sen - hey sen!
en son giden sen
sen olmayacaksın

bana güven

ne canın böyle yanıp coşacak
ne bu mevsim hep kış kalacak
yeniden bulacak birini bu kalp, bulacak
o da gitse son olmayacak


ne canın böyle yanıp coşacak
ne bu mevsim hep kış kalacak
yeniden bulacak birini bu kalp, bulacak
o da gitse son olmayacak

bana güven - istersen

aynı deftere
aynı deftere isimler yazacak ellerin
yanımıza sevgililer
yeni sevgililer seçecek geceler bilirim
zor gelecek
çok zor gelecek bazen dostların bile
en son sevdiğin
son sevdiğin ben olmayacağım

bana güven

yaz ortasında
için bir anda ürperecek
bir gülecek, bir küseceksin
ama geçecek
aşk kendini
aşk bizleri zar zor temize çekecek
senin de boynu bükük bir defterin olacak -
olacak bir gün

bana güven

mete özgencil

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Environment: A new story?

Talking to the girls this weekend made me remember the things I cared about a few years ago, the things that were thought about and discussed around me. I'm not sure whether I was genuinely interested in them or I was drawn into them out of circumstance, but thinking about them and trying to make sense of them still seems like a valuable effort.

One of my friends will be working on an environmental project, and she told us about the necessity of "a paradigm shift in capitalism," because the system is going to "hit the wall" unless we do something about it. I never thought to label the growing awareness about environmental problems in such a way - communism failed because it did not give people the right incentives to improve their lives, and the ones who had bigger aspirations could not reach them. It was capitalism that prevailed by giving people freedom and choices (that could still be tweaked by regulation and incentives.) So now we realize that capitalism, too, will not last long unless we do something to fix it?

In developed countries (more in Europe than the US), environmental problems almost seem to have given a new story to the urban affluent and the idealist. An area of improvement. As one venture capitalist told me, Europeans are ready to pay the premium for clean technology. They are ready to accept personal responsibility and go out of their ways to recycle, buy efficient bulbs, organise G8 summits and flashy concerts. They are aware of a problem, and they can afford to work towards fixing it.

This attitude is totally respectable and admirable, but idealists should not expect everyone to possess the same awareness and the means to prioritize environment the same way they do. It will take more than idealism and publicity. An effective set of solutions can only be found if the right regulations and incentives are in place to align the interests of those who don't necessarily care about the environment with those who do. All solutions will have to involve some degree of regulation, free markets won't suffice. Even the carbon trading system, which seems like the ingenious capitalist solution, would not be possible without the cap - and that requires public supervision and commitment. It will be very difficult to bring governments and businesses on board.

Environmental problems point to a flaw in the free market economy that needs to be corrected by regulation. Individual choices will not add up to a socially optimum outcome, unless the costs are internalized. Economists, scientists and policy makers will have to work hard to come up with innovative solutions. The awareness, panic and effort, however, are all truly meaningful. It gives our generation a new story to believe in, something to correct, something to fix - but we have to realize that the road to a solution will take a lot of thinking. Not that this should discourage us.

no games (updated)

for a long time I have been thinking about rules and books and strategies and human nature and being comfortable and pretending and standing behind yourself and insecurity and taking for granted and being taken for granted and being independent and posing a challenge and being challenged and I decided - no - no games. I want to be someone someone can count on - and I want to be able to count on someone. if that makes people predictable and boring, so be it.

(thanks to one of my friends who made me see this... she's a treasure! :)

after writing this, something made me doubt what I wrote. I believed in it when I wrote it, but then I realized sometimes people do not play games consciously, but they simply do not know what (or who) they want. they believe in one thing now - in another thing later. maybe it takes time. maybe they are trying to protect themselves by simply not wanting a specific thing, just so that they can pretend they didn't want it if they don't get it, and switch swiftly to wanting something else.

anyways - the consequences are the same either way, somebody gets hurt. and it is not fun not to want something wholeheartedly, because then you don't get happy when you actually get it, either. after going through all the arguments for and against - no games!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Why bother?

Once I wrote that I feel horrible when I'm home on a Friday night. This weekend I didn't have any plans until last minute, and the same fog of confusion settled down around my head. What if I end up home alone with my book? In an instant I started feeling like someone nobody loves, someone excluded. Last night, I went from having no plans to being triple-booked in the matter of an hour, none of the options really excited me (large groups with only a few people I know and like) but I wanted to have them all just in case. As my flatmates were also confused, we ended up grumpily sitting around for a while, walking around our small temporary flat aimlessly, discovering there is no personal space after all, and the boredom and fatigue towards ourselves and everyone else became palpable. We ended up breaking a computer.

Then we went to a larger house with more people, sat around more for a while, watching what we say, and dutifully wound up in this horrible Walkabout (an old church, fittingly) where glassy eyed people were trying to grope each other. I must say I enjoyed some of the songs and the dancing. I almost felt part of a group. We couldn't really hear each other but we glanced at each other lovingly, danced freely, looked at drunker people with tolerance and even sang aloud (of course nobody could hear our voices but we could see we were singing). My phone broke and I couldn't even tell my colleague that I wouldn't be able to make it to her thing. But "in London, that's almost to be expected," one of my flatmates says.

When we got off the bus on our way home, I looked back at all the people in the bus, holding on to the handles. They looked happy-drunk, sad-drunk, tired-drunk, sad-sober, tired-sober, but not happy. What is the point? Why do these people even bother?

One of my favourite sayings is "luck only comes to those who walk around." Is that why? We feel like we need to be out and about to get lucky? Is this the best option out there, one of the terms and conditions we tacitly accepted by being young, moving here? Do we want to feel some kind of intimacy, some kind of solidarity that only comes with getting collectively drunk and over our self-consciousness? Does the bond between people grow stronger when they see each other drunk and silly and sick and still accept it? Because clubs are the only places where we can make horrible dance moves and sing aloud and grope each other, shielded by the crowd and the loud music? We can do all this because it's the only place it's accepted, expected?

Many times after a night out, on my way home in the cold, I wondered whether it was worth it. Sensing my doubts, our leader sat me down one day and told me: "Will you remember the nights you stayed home studying or the nights you went out with your friends?" Yes, I do remember the freezing walks at 5 o'clock in the morning from Dülferstrasse station all the way down Panzerwiese. I remember the parties at Nachtgalerie and Back Stage and Studentenstadt and Fabrik and the Frikadella man in Hauptbahnhof. I remember all this, and I ask whether it was worth it, and maybe it was. Maybe this is all we could come up with after years of experience and evolution, maybe it is the best option.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Don't ask me...

Sometimes my friends ask for a favour - and I say no when I really have to go out of my way to make them happy. They think I shouldn't say no, because we're good enough friends now. I think they shouldn't ask me that to begin with, because we're good enough friends now. I have to try and be just to myself just as I try to be just to everyone else.