some remarks

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Ankara, Turkey
I'm just a sociologist astonished by the marvelous sense of humor of the universe! So, why not be a bad hat?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

An Extended Remark - "Berlin, without return..."

It's 5 AM in Berlin, and I'm still staring at the empty Word Page. I should have been thinking about Governmentality and "Regulation of Islam in Berlin among Mosque Debates", but, instead, I took a journey in the past, in my last one year. I know, it's just another form of procrastination - getting emotional about the past and floating in nostalgia.


I cant help thinking about the things I have to manage in two weeks, and I'm getting angry with myself. I was supposed to be done already with my thesis and back home in Ankara. Berlin is somehow turned into an extended journey - that should be completed three months ago. I try to convince myself with a fatalistic idea that there may be still something waiting for me to experience in this city. I blame Hollywood for this as it imposes this way of interpreting the events that are nothing but just coincidence. In fact, I've learned to avoid anything that seems to me like 'fate' since I have never got a good results from those moments that made me say "oh, das nenne ich Schicksal!". It's even funnier though that as an atheist I call these coincidences 'fate' :o). Fate is bitchy (kahpe kader), so, it's better to shape my own 'destiny' and not to expect so much from Berlin.

In one of our conversations with a friend, we described Berlin as something more than a "one-night stand" but less than a "lover". She is like a "f-buddy" with whom one shouldn't get so emotional, and shouldn't make even immediate future plans. She is like such a woman from whom one should know not to expect having breakfast together and know the time to leave. My friend left Berlin three months ago, and I'm stuck in a hate-love relationship with this city.

It's just like yesterday that I came to this city. I just can't believe that I changed four apartments, met some 'lovers' (both new and old ones), wrote so many papers, attended so many concerts, and ate so much "curry wurst" :o). The things also have changed at home. One of my women is getting married, some people are getting divorced, some are moving out from Ankara, even from Turkey. I just can't believe the time that passed so fast. And now, it's my last week in this apartment, the last week to complete the theory and methodology chapter of my thesis, the last week with my fair flatmate, and the very last week of the year. I will be moved in another flat next week, and have another extended time for two more months - with the same city but without the same people I know in this city. I still want to stick with that fatalistic idea that there must be a reason for my staying here. Who knows, maybe there is a reason which I can like. 

PS: The song is dedicated to a man, an 'old friend' from Dresden, with whom I recently met again.

* I discovered this song today via my flatmate, my gorgeous in Berlin.

Monday, November 22, 2010

My Turkish brother would like to hug you!

After having lived in Berlin for a year, now I understand better how the prejudices works in people's life. And I always thought that it was only the country where I come from which would be the worst case on this issue. Here some people - whether Germans, or German-Turks, or people from Turkey, or anyone who has no idea whatsoever about Turkey - make me confused about my so called 'national' and/or 'cultural' identity that I am not so much familiar with either. The process is like this: I meet people at shops, university or clubs, and of course, due to my broken German, the second question is where I am from. The reaction is usually something between disappointment and surprise accompanied by an overdone mimics to express this reaction (wide open eyes and mouth, the head smoothly fallen back, and eyebrows raised as much as they can). It is “disappointing”, as I understand, because some expect me to be from Spain or Latin America, from somewhere really exotic, so one can gain an experience of exotica via me. I really don't know what the picture of these 'exotic' countries in their minds exactly looks like, but I always imagine their imagination like that they think of these people as dancing with exotic fruit baskets on their heads. And when they learn that I'm from Turkey, this imaginary fruit basket is fallen over my head. It is also “surprising” for them as I don't fit in their imagination of "Turkish" woman, which I couldn't understand for a really long time. Some told me, "das kann ich aber nicht glauben, du hast helle Haut", or "du trinkst aber Alkohol!?", or "how could your family let you go out in the middle of the night?"... One of my favorites is what the salesman in Wasted German Youths shop told me: "what kind of a mixture are you?! you can't be just a Turk!!" - “vanilla-bourbon-chocolate cream. Yersen!”. He had a point indeed. I am not just a Turk, and I've never identified myself with my nationality. I'm a woman, I'm a sociologist, and I'm an individual before everything you attribute me. Nobody tells me "what kind of a mixture are you? you can't just be a woman!". I mean, if I seem to you as a “normal” woman, why not be a “normal” human? Should I be a 'mixture' of an “abnormal” and a “normal” in order to be seen to you so “normal” with an “abnormal” 'national' background. For f...'s sake man, take a minute and think before speaking!
After one year, I am at such a point that I'm afraid of having to have the same boring and insulting conversation over and over again if I meet a new person and of being put in that position where I should prove myself as an individual not as a sample of an imaginary "culture" about which people know too much but I don't. I think I'm tired of having such conversations where people start their sentences with phrases like "according to your/our/ Turkish/German culture...", “şimdi, bunlarda/bizde bi adet var...”, or "aber normalerweise die Türken/in der Türkei/ die Deutschen....", and of the questions about how, what, if Turks do. Seriously?! I mean I don't know what Turks do in general but I do something in some ways that are totally individual. I mean, I don't have the statistics about how and what 'Turks' do. Moreover, is that really so that you think there could be a common pattern of behaving and acting agreed on and followed by a whole population in a country? I admire, however, this creative imagination where one can think of 80 million people composed of diverse ethnic, cultural, religious, political, economic, sexual, and most importantly individual orientations come together, I don’t know maybe once a year, and agreeing on a general tendency; like “from now on, we will beat up the boyfriends of our daughters! Yes, this is an integral part of being a Turk now! Hadi dağılın!”.
It's a t-shirt project of mine. Isn't he adorable in his DESTROYER t-shirt?
It's really funny that I even have to first convince a guy that my father or my brother would not beat him up so I can date him. I mean it's funnier if you knew both of them :o). Why would my brother - who is the cutest person in this world for me - do such a thing in any way? This question was actually asked by a German guy in our third date for real. And that was also the hesitation of two mores whose friends warned them to be careful with me because they saw a huge possibility that my family is a potential monster attacking people all of a sudden. Manyak mıyız neyiz?!
How difficult could it be to see that there is no such representative cultures as we imagine? I really find it hilarious now if people try to give me a lesson about a culture that they assume and believe I belong to. And each time, I try to explain that just like any other country in this world, the country I come from is not somewhere homogeneous. But the worst thing is that in those moments I find myself advocating that I don't belong to that culture they mentioned as if it’s a culture worse than any other. I mean, who the hell are we to tell people that the life they sustain is just wrong, worse than our lives or even the worst? I think this is the legitimate question that should be asked in the very first place! What's the very worst is that if they are convinced enough that I don't have anything to do with that “evil” culture, they call me an 'exception'. That means, according to their imaginary statistics, I am just a standard “deviation”. Another priceless question I heard for a couple of times after some announced me as ‘exception’ is that if I, ‘as a Turkish woman coming from Turkey', am 'integrated so well, why can't the other Turks living in Germany?'. (ayşec. would rather describe this question as “neresinden tutsan elinde kalıyor”). There are three assumptions hidden in this question:
  1. I have – somehow and at some point – bothered myself and got integrated(??). I mean, the questions of integration to what, to where and why, unfortunately melted into thin air, and they are out of question indeed!
  2. If I can do that as a Turkish woman, so can anybody. You know, I must be so voiceless and subordinated creature... if I can, so can anybody! Just like Rocky said “...if I can change, and you can change, everybody can change!” (Rocky IV, 1985 – the victory speech of Rocky at the end). Maybe I should better shout that out from the stairs of Reichstag! :o)
  3. I know the answer and the solution but I'm so bloody-minded that I insist on keeping both to myself :o). Çatlayın!
That's my story about the prejudices I’ve faced in Berlin. There are more like this experienced by “us”. And by “us” I mean those who are nowadays called “white Turks”*, the children of the “elites”, or of “laic petit-bourgeois” of Turkey; those who are raised just like the “Western” children by the “Western” ideals that are also too ideal even for the “West”; and those who, as the generation after 1980s, are more or less “Americanized” and “Europeanized” by not being aware of that fact. I don't know, maybe we are the standard “deviation”, both for the Europe and the country I come from. But please, let's put aside “our” “deviated” personality, and talk about something else. I am not here as a cultural or national represent. Discussing, analyzing, and reading about these issues are already my job, and will be so for a long time. I really don't wanna waste my leisure time only by discussing why I'm not a “non-deviated Turkish woman”. I mean, suck it, and let's talk about music, movies, world politics (but without making me the centre of the issue), shopping, even about football (thanks to WM, I learned enough to talk about it)... I mean, chill out ulan :O) Huh? Whadda ya say? Who's hungary?**

* Please "don't call me white!" (NOFX)
**That's from a song I like, named The Salmon Dance – The Chemical Brothers. It starts to play in my head whenever I find myself in the middle of such silly conversations. Sometimes, I want to say “hey, hold on” and sing this song and also do the dance with my imaginary friends FatLip and Sammy the Salmon.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

An 'Ally' remark: theme songs

This city sounds like a full song of Bloc Party sometimes. Maybe it's because they already have more than a couple of songs about Berlin :o) But apart from those songs dedicated to Berlin, the city makes me feel that I'm already a part of their songs – with its lyrics and notes. Sometimes when my IPod's battery is dead, I inevitably hear the city – not the people around – U-Bahn, S-Bahn, buses, and of course sirens. People – except nuts – are relatively silent here. I mean, they talk but can't be heard, and I don't know whether it is because of the acoustic of the city in general or the characteristic of the language/society. I think my brain has an attempt to protect me from that unbearable silence and makes me hear theme songs if I don't have a physical access to music. In such moments, the theme songs have usually been some tracks from Bloc Party. OK, I should admit that these songs are from the album A Weekend In the City; so, it's pretty understandable why I ever chose them for Berlin. But, it's not only lyrics. I hear Bloc Party when I listen to Berlin (Istanbul'u dinliyorum gözlerim kapalı :P). Friedrichstrasse, Nordbahnhof, Warschauer Strasse, Rosenhalter Platz, Potsdamer Platz and even Bernauer Strasse – each has a specific riff or a full track from the band. 
Hochgeladen von Yonafunu.

Sometimes I hear Flaming Lips, JamieT and The Kooks as well, and the last two should, in fact, sound to me of course more England rather than Germany. Similarly, it is also strange that I can't hear Parov Stelar (they have a song named Lost in Amsterdam), or Kings of Convenience at least, as the theme song of Amsterdam. Instead, Phoenix (especially Run Run Run), that hadn’t even have a place in my Holland IPod list, echoes in my ears whenever I think about Amsterdam.
Actually, JamieT gives some courage, or let's say an overplayed confident body language – tough girl with that look saying meddle if you want trouble –, while walking/ riding my bike through Moabit, the neighborhood I'm living in. The Kooks visits my ears generally when I leave the library with a satisfaction due to studying whole day – the girl working on her thesis (as if it will save the world at the end), who has never (even for once) regretted that three years ago she left a man, like whom, she knows, nobody will love her again, is moving in her own way. (Have you ever met with a woman's rationality: leaving the man and having success must always be in tune with each other). And (I'm sorry, maybe some of you will find it blatantly unauthentic), there comes Flaming Lips whenever I hear the sirens of the distancethat bugs me indeed. Still, they become the theme song for those moments, and after the sirens moving away, I declare a short term peace between me and my existentialist concerns.
For each city I visited, I have a special theme song. But Berlin, she deserves more than one. She is the one that has made real most of the songs, bands, and artists I like. While struggling with her (we have a love-hate relationship), or while hiding from her at home, these guys always stand/walk beside me. But not so seriously as you imagine. I mean, I make generally geyik* with them in my head like I do with some dead smart-ass guys (like Foucault). If I run serious talks with them, I would be more depressed. Their duty is to entertain me.

*make geyik: org. “geyik yapmak”. It's a Turkish phrase to define nonsense but funny conversation. In German, there is a word corresponding this action more or less; viz. quatschen. Yet, the nuance is in that “geyik” must be funny, must make a funny sense from nonsense. 'It “requires hell of a wit too!” ' says aysec., while “twisting and turning things” in the meaning of a word or a concept. But what's more funny is that the real meaning of “geyik” is "deer". What a sheer nonsense, isn't it?

Bloc Party – Kreuzberg (R3volve Remix)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

the first remark

For two days, I've tried to decide on which language this blog should be written in. Then I made my decision: it would be whichever I’d like. That means, in three languages, sometimes at the same time, I'll try to write something in this space of mine - Turkish, English, and German. For the expression of some instants, of some moments, is too precious to be let blurred due to any loss in translation.
Writing a blog, writing anything to publish, has been a project that I had postponed for a long time. I've always wondered why people write a blog that nobody but the blogger would give any shit about indeed. I could not reconcile myself to the thought of writing a blog where I would share my thoughts or feelings. But then I realized that I have already had a facebook and a twitter account where I have already written statuses, uploaded cheesy photos, shared some links that actually nobody but I give any shit about. Why do we have so many 'personalized' spaces connecting us to others through a network system. That's all because of our 'everlasting' desire to be recognized, the desire for the recognition of our existence. It's not, in fact, something to be ashamed of since all our actions and measures already have this motto.
In order to feel our existence, someone else other than us has to feel our existence in the first place and make us aware of that they recognize that existence of ours. Otherwise, the existence felt by the self alone does not mean so much to us as it would become a schizoid situation. If nobody but you can feel that you exist, then you don't exist in 'real'. In fact, the more we hide ourselves, or a part of ourselves, from other people, the more we lose the sense of our, or of that part of our, existence. That's why people write books, make some discoveries and make them public with their names; that's why some people make music and give concerts; some make demonstrations in order to be politically recognized; some kill serially as a way to leave a signature; some simply cry to be heard; or some get promiscuous to have even an instantaneous meaning for someone else. Of course, there are some other ways to make one feel his/her own existence on one’s own; like, bungee-jumping, which would pump up one's adrenaline that help you to feel the existence of your body, only through that human beings can be alive in physical term. Yet, it's a short-term way of feeling that you're alive since the effect of adrenaline does not last so long as you can feel it till death, or after death :O).
The most superficial explanation of that is becoming a couple and having a child maybe. The concept of family - doesn't matter whether in the form of an institution, or in that of 'love-cage' - evokes the very evidence of one's existence by producing numerous frames of happy pictures, and child(ren) as a genetic and social proof; by building a home (both literally and figuratively); by possessing properties and rights to pass on to the next generation - all of which would be the very evidence of one's existence even after his/her death.
All that rush around us (some call it 'life' :P) and those newly developed and developing network systems connecting us and the spaces we created and think as a piece, or a form, of us serve to fulfill only one task: to fulfill the desires of 'existence' in 'real'. Nonetheless, this bullshitting above is not a new discovery I present but a legitimization for my future 'blogging'.