I saw two boys on the footpath today, sitting on the sidelines of a street-soccer game. One was crying, and the other had his arm around him. The boy who was crying had one of those faces that you can imagine won’t change much as he ages—one of those faces that when it’s fifty you will still be able to see the little boy inside. He looked so old and wise: there was not a skerrick of shame in those tears as he looked into himself through the middle-distance, probably not wondering, as i was, if he would recall this moment with his friend in twenty-five years.

the sleep of the awakened

I like to take my time, you know – go slow, or as slow or as fast as is required of the moment. Right now i am slowly drinking a beer on a balcony in Istanbul! Soon i will hustle for a bus, then i will slowly watch a movie about the acceleration of ascension we are currently experiencing as the human race awakens and the universe continues to expand. Then we will sleep the sleep of the awakened.

Turkish Police Violence and Impunity

Berkin Elvan, then aged 14, was on his way to buy bread for his family when he got caught up in the street battles in Istanbul last June. He was hit in the head by a teargas cartridge fired by the police and had been in a coma ever since.

On Tuesday morning, police fired teargas to disperse protesters gathered outside the Istanbul hospital where Berkin died, after some people started throwing objects at an armoured police vehicle.

via Turkish police fire teargas to quell protests after boy, 15, dies | World news | The Guardian.

What Does it Mean to Say Hello?

I am teaching myself Türkçe from an old American Foreign Service Institute resource i found online and i love what they have to say about language:

Language is a system of representation of ‘ideas’ and ‘concepts’ in formal symbols. These symbols are realised in communication as acts of speech which are communicative insofar as they can be understood by the hearer as representative of the symbolic language system which he has mastered.

What i am learning is a system of sounds represented by symbols, both of which “point at” an intended meaning.

I often find myself in a room surrounded by a barrage of sounds that mean nothing to me, but which obviously mean a great number of things to the people making them and hearing them.

To some of those people, the sounds i make are equally unintelligible. They are sounds represented by symbols, both of which “point at” an intended meaning,

but these sounds and their associated symbols have no inherent meaning.

Humans, words and meanings exist on a three-tiered hierarchy: between humans and concepts there are words; humans use words that refer to, or point at, certain concepts.

But when you start to realise that the concept or meaning is the only thing that remains constant because suddenly you are immersed in a group of people using a whole different system of sounds and symbols,

it is humbling to think your entire understanding of the world could mean absolutely nothing to someone who doesn’t share the same language as you.

It is humbling to think your interpretation of concepts into the sounds and symbols that constitute, say, the English language, could be entirely different from someone whose interpretation has been made in another language.

Who is right?, the person who says “Hello” or the person who says “Merhaba”.

Does it matter?, or is intention the only thing that matters?

Is intention the same as meaning?

If i intend to greet someone and i say “Hello” and they intend to greet me and they say “Merhaba” but neither of us understands the meaning of the other’s greeting, does that mean that we have not said hello?

How can we expect to ask ‘friend or foe?’ and be able to make the important distinction when someone answers in a foreign language?

Songs from Two Continents, poems by Moris Farhi



Redemption and the Hope for Understanding through Liberation from Separation

As part of my haphazard research into the divergence of East and Western cultures, I picked up a copy of Moris Farhi’s first book of poems, Songs from Two Continents on my tour of Turkey with Mum and Rashid.

This is the first poetry i have read from a Turkish poet, and the second book of any kind by an author from Turkey—the other being The Flea Palace by Elif Şhafak, a Márquezian novel i am picking my way through slowly, the second book i have attempted to read in its entirety on an eReader, the first being, foolishly, Plato’s Republic.

Between Socratic dialogue and the pithy poems of Moris Farhi, there couldn’t be a much greater divide. The first poem is quote worthy not only for its sheer brevity, and is just a taste of the redemption-through-passion theme pursued in the collection:

Paths to God

many paths lead
to God

mine is through
the flesh

Continue reading

Finding God

they say prophets lead us to god
but what are the chances?
of finding the right man
when your fellow couchsurfer gets lost
on the way home
and you are down on the streets
of Istanbul
calling out for an Arabic man
called Mohammad