Monday, August 30, 2010

Announcement: Guest Blogger

Finally, the thesis that we have all been following this year via several online platforms will soon be submitted. Don't fret just yet: The author will keep on grumbling, joking, mood-swinging, self-pitying, ego-satisfying, and - most importantly - questioning and criticizing (eli belinde) until the very end. And with two thumbs up, we will all be following. 

In a few weeks,
aysec. from Gunduz Dusleri will feature on NBM as a guest blogger to talk about her infamous thesis, and how she became the Demi Moore of sociology as she wrote it.

Resistance Martisi

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Not going anywhere...

For the most recurring question of this summer: My answer abides by Keren Ann's song

Friday, August 27, 2010

Fancy Friday Picks V

The Most Succinct Image: 1990's

The Most Succinct Word: "Volunteer's Dilemma"
According to Wikipedia, "Mamihlapinatapai is a word from the Yaghan language of Tierra del Fuego, listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the 'most succinct word,' and is considered one of the hardest words to translate. It describes 'a look shared by two people with each wishing that the other will initiate something that they both desire but which neither one wants to start." Wow.

Philosophy: List of Unsolved Problems
This list is great fun! I'm relieved to hear that someone put a name to this: "The Munchhausen Trilemma, also called Agrippa's Trilemma, purports that is is impossible to prove any certain truth even in fields such as logic and mathematics. According to this argument, the proof of any theory rests either on circular reasoning, infinite regress, or unproven axioms." Hear that, all you empiricists and rationalists who caused that great philosophical cold war in 17th &18th centuries? And we people in the field of social sciences, of course, are all familiar with Moore's Disbelief: "What you say is true but I don't believe it," or "Bu, rabbin dedigidir, lakin ki oyle degildir."

Photography: List of Online Photography Magazines
Great resource, also the ultimate online tool for the experienced procrastinator. Here are a few favorites from the burn magazine:

People I miss.. Most of all, one person..

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Random objects

Raunchy Piggy magnet, w/ love from Red Light District

Bike necklace, experimenting color swap

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


"Babayi alin"
"Anlamsizlik ustune cok yol yaptim"

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Infrastructure problems

The pipes in our old apartment are a constant threat to our hygiene and mental health. Yesterday the pipe-man came to deal with a nasty blockage. When he left, floors were covered in shit. I wasn't around to see it, but what I was told was enough for me to have the worst nightmares last night.

Shit should stay where it belongs. I'm just sayin'.

Random books, beautiful words

On May 23, 2003, the day he was diagnosed with terminal cancer and only months before his death, Derrida participated in a public discussion with Mustapha Cherif on dialogue of civilizations. Islam & The West: A Conversation with Jacques Derrida is the book that chronicles this last discussion. It is not a direct transcript: We read Cherif's account of the importance of the day, his preliminary thoughts, and interesting observations about Derrida's reactions and answers, with direct quotations scattered in between. Although overall a second-hand minor read for those of us who have seen the best and the worst of Derrida's own works, it is nevertheless immensely thought-provoking in a more subtle and sincere manner. 

"Peace is only possible when one of the warring sides takes the first step, the hazardous initiative, the risk of opening up dialogue, and decides to make the gesture that will lead not only to an armistice but to peace."

Who is Mahasweta Devi? Why has Spivak made it her personal duty to be her collaborator and translator? In what ways do their literary-activist and academic projects complement each other? Imaginary Maps is a joint venture into the untold histories of India, with the question that always persists: "Who decolonizes?" The three stories, inspired by Devi's activist work with the disenfranchised tribes in India, are combined by themes and tropes that underscore the interconnectedness between exploitation at local level and the global power structures within the neocolonial context in economic, social, political and academic spheres. An ethically responsible, and responsive, endeavor towards the question of representing the subaltern. Literature at its best.

"Today all the mundane blood-conditioned fears of the wild quadruped are gone 
because she has killed the biggest beast."

Ulysses is not everyone's cup of tea. A modern epic that has been testing readers' patience since 1922, it is the ultimate rite of passage for those of who are in love with words. (Joyce wrote it in seven years, I read it in five. I am proud to have overcome this battle, alnimin akiyla ciktim cok sukur.) Favorite part? The last chapter, where "the last word (human, all too human) is left to Penelope": Molly Bloom's "yes I said yes I will Yes" soliloquy. At the time of its publication, this episode was the longest sentence in English literature. 4391 words without punctuation marks, but with Joyce's experimental syntax you don't need them anyway, the rhythm literally takes your breath away. (Trivia: Kate Bush wrote a song after it, called The Sensual World)

"... I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used 
or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes."

Aaah, Milan Kundera. Some say he's kitsch, some say he's a pervert. I say he's an eccentric but loyal friend. Whenever you are in need of a good story, he's always around to help. I read The Book of Laughter and Forgetting during a summer holiday that lasted more than 30 days, took to me to 7 different locations, and left me with an awful ear infection that turned into eczema. Both the book and the trip was worth the experience.

"The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting."

Jeanette Winterson is my current favorite female author. Her Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit is the most beautiful account of growing up in a hostile environment (evangelist parents), after Carson McCullers' The Member of the Wedding, methinks. (Trivia: Made into a BBC TV series, few episodes available on youtube.)

I came across this book as I was looking for photography tips and manuals in the library. Architectural historian and curator Kenneth Hayes looks for an answer to the question: "Why milk?" Looking at the "milk-splash discourse" throughout the history of photography, particularly prevalent in 1960's-70's, he  finds out that the milk images reflect "the locus of a disturbance,... that recurred with the regularity of a trauma." What an intriguing project!

Milk. Jeff Wall, 1984

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sunday Music

A home is not a home without art, a city is not a city without street music. The Bulgarian couple with the accordion walked through our street again.

Sunday Music from raisonneuse on Vimeo.

Dear God, and Dear Canon: Thank you for this camera. I'm grateful everyday.
Dear iMovie: Damn you for failing to import the .avi file. 
Dear vimeo: How does it take 2 hours to upload a 29" video?
Dear iMovie: Damn you even more for importing the file only after I uploaded it to vimeo. 

Favorite Movie Scenes III

Not a comforting thought when you're home alone & exhausted. Still, it's a beautiful day and I could do without the self-pity.

High Fidelity

Saturday, August 21, 2010

A Letter

Everyone has a particular childhood story that is recited in every possible occasion, one that makes the listeners laugh and the parents proud. 

"Little C. used to be the leader of the pack in kindergarten, she had everyone on her fingers," "We couldn't get Little M. out of the water when other babies used to be scared of it, he was such an ardent swimmer," "All the girls had a crush on Little E., he was that charming," "Little A. once sternly argued in class that love was a good thing, and got smacked by her primary school teacher," "Little B. was such a responsible child, she learned to go to the potty all by herself when she was but one." 

As you grow up, these stories are told so many times that you can't stand to hear them any longer. They're insufferable once you come to the realization that they're not so special after all - that everyone must've had a fight to protect their sibling, was a master of mischief, or a bibliomaniac with limited vocabulary. 

But you see, even when they are all cliche, telling these stories is always a win-win situation. The audience is amused, parents can boast, and you can use them as an icebreaker in almost every social setting even if you seriously lack smalltalk skills. Their commonness is justified because they are functional, as tiny funny insights that offer a perspective on your life.

I have a funny childhood specialty too. I used to talk to the animal prints on my bedsheets in a make-up language. "Not talking to herself at all, mind you," my mother always emphasizes, intent on demarcating her creative child from a mad one, as if there exists a real difference between the two at that age. "I used to watch her from afar," she says, pulling an exaggerated expression of awe, "it was as if she had all these exciting things in her mind that she could only share with her bedsheets."

This is the basic story. Thanks to what I call the 'over-constructive anamnesis' sickness on my mother's side, we had already acquired a rich repertoire of various versions by the time I reached puberty. 

I'm telling all this because I think it might offer a perspective about this com-puh-letely self-centered, somehow personal yet still distant, hopefully entertaining but admittedly useless exercise in writing that has materialized in this blog. And come to think about it, it is a funny angle to look at things as they are now: Imagine me sitting at a desk, typing away on a bedsheet, trying to communicate my thoughts to teddy bear prints!

I really don't think that blogging (of this specific genre) can have a purpose: like a journal or a scrapbook, you keep it because you have things to say, draw, jot down, be amused about, covet, or merely take note of. And although doing such things isn't a complete waste of time, it does feel funny when you make them public. Constantly weird.

This is a place to relax and let the words go. It's not serious, not properly edited, and certainly not an art of any kind. It's rather a recognizably gender-specific, a faintly elitist fantasy-world that Westerners prefer to call a "personal hobby." Since it's a bit awkward to let your personal thoughts and things go public, as if the public cares, I think I'm compelled to offer a justification here. In fact, I'll tell you a short story about it.

For the past few years, I'd been ailed with the inability to write. Awful, awful writer's block, ever since I started college and found myself in another city. It certainly does wonders for the psyche of a post-adolescent Eng-Lit junkie whose definition of herself was "an author-in-the-making." Frustration abound. I scribbled things occasionally, but nothing much came out from these hands that had kept journals for more than 10 years. It's true, I used to write every single day, and did not tire of it. 

At this stage in my life, when I cannot utter a single sentence without making sure it's properly cited, I cannot even begin to understand how I managed to think of so much stuff to write about.

(Or how I managed to live my life instead of trying to put it on paper, for that matter.)

Somewhere up in a closet in Istanbul, there's a big box containing my journals, letters, photos, drawings, newspaper clippings & what not. Desperate for inspiration in my blocked state, I attempted to go through them a few years ago. The experience of going back in time to my adolescent mind was too uncanny, too uncomfortable than I'd like to admit, however. I'd expected it to be a nostalgic moment, with lots of sympathisch "aaah"s and "ooh"s, but no. I was a complete outsider, looking at the petty musings of a 15-year-old. I just didn't care any more. What was all this stuff, why was I still keeping them, hiding them? What good are they if they do not matter even to me? 

This puzzled me for a looong time: Am I trying to literally bury the past? Do I dwell on the possibility that some day someone might read the journals, look at the scrapbooks?

Riding on a bus at night, I'm often overcome by a sudden rush of paranoia. I imagine, maybe a bit too vividly, that there will be an accident and I will die right there on the road. It's not a fear of death really, but a strange, irresistible curiosity about death. After all, the experience of death itself is the only one that we can't live long enough to tell others about. How would I feel it, how will I stand up to it - the amazing realization that this is your last moment, your last thought, your last breath. It's utterly perplexing to think of.

Whenever I imagined my own death on a bus, I remembered that abandoned box neatly tucked away in a closet somewhere. What would be people's reactions if they found it? Now that I don't write any more, wouldn't the journals be too misleading, perhaps gone sour? 

In one particular death-imagining episode, I finally had an epiphany (a very very rare gem in my life, it's not common for me to make up my damn mind about something.) It was quite a simple idea: The audience didn't matter when I was writing the journals, it surely wouldn't matter afterwards. I just wanted to write something and keep it, that was the purpose. 

Wherever I got the impression that I would evolve into a novel-machine by the age of 25, I don't know. It certainly feels great that I'm finally over the author complex, and can enjoy a fine piece of fiction without feeling the venom of envy in my veins. Or scribble around without a care in the world for how it might be received by the dreary "literary circles" one day.

I thought I could never do the "flow" again - you know, the flowing feeling when the text goes on so rhythmically that the individual words, sentences and the syntax seem to disappear? I thought I'd lost that. It seems that I only lost the correct medium, and then the internet people developed the perfect tool and rescued me from a lifetime of frustration. (Allah gostermesin.)

In a way, they enabled me to keep talking to the prints on my bedsheets, albeit in a more advanced manner.

So - I think that as long as it "flows," my self-centered scrapbook/journal-hybrid blog justifies itself. Hope you enjoy it occasionally as much as I do.

PS: The curse is upon me. I may have just turned into one of those wretched people who write about writing and think it's interesting. (I have excuses, though.)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Fancy Friday Picks IV

Stuff: Literary Mugs
Perfect mug kitschness for Austen junkies.

Photography: Image of a fleeting moment
I'm speechless, can't stop looking at this. I think I'll fold it and put it under my pillow.

via ill seen, ill said, via electric feather

Letter: The beautiful death of Aldous Huxley
The poetic account of the death of an author, by his wife: 
I had the feeling actually that the last hour of breathing was only the conditioned reflex of the body that had been used to doing this for 69 years, millions and millions of times. There was not the feeling that with the last breath, the spirit left. It had just been gently leaving for the last four hours.

Which reminds me of Les Invasions Barbares, another account of a beautiful death.

Book: The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
I KNEEEEW IT! (For correct emphasis, please refer to Les Miserables, the scene where Javert -played by Geoffrey Rush- barks desperately with a mouthful of spit upon finding out that M. le Maire is actually Jean Valjean.)

I knew there was a writer out there with the best, the most crisp sense of humour! I'm sorry Douglas Adams, I've been neglecting you for so long. It's not that I didn't know you, and I did linger in at least a few pages of your books whenever I spotted them in bookstores. I just didn't want to mess things up with Coetzee, you see, who is the love of my life. We both feel ready for an open relationship to pursue our private passions now, and I'm guessing he might fancy you as well.
In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and had been widely regarded as a bad move.

Food: Summer salads
Abuse them summer fruits, while you still can!

Design: Poolga
Crazy wallpaper designs to flatter your Apple gadgets.

Craft: Oilcloth sandwich bag
Why didn't I think of this before? Time to raid Cath Kidston online store for fabric goodies! Dear grandma's sewing machine: Be not afraid, I think you'll like this one.

Dance: Pregnant Ballerina on the Beach
This will be the love child of Artemis and Dionysus, perhaps taking after a bit of uncle Apollo too.

Music: Songs from my summer
8 tracks to brighten up your day, I hope. Have a lovely weekend!

Favorite Movie Scenes II

The big man and the sick lady at lunch. Favorite movie scene of all time, from Les miserables.
Jean Valjean as Father Madeleine and Fantine

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Confessions of a Flower-Murderer

I was not a flower person. Flowers had no place in the house of a barely-feeding-herself-and-her-cats person. But we moved into a new house last year and swore off the laxed student living once and for all. Well, that was the idea at least. 

I have a tiny balcony in my bedroom, which looked in desperate need of color, so I bought a few flowers in the first days of summer. All of a sudden, the old cement walls and their disturbing washed away pinkish hue were no longer visible - we had a cute lush garden where we could sit and enjoy the summer breeze. 

The last days of summer have come (though the heat wave will stick around I'm sure), and I've lost 3 out of 5 pots to the incredible heat. I'm telling you, I did everything I could, but what can I do if the flower god decided to take them away from me?!

This is the state of affairs now:

Faced with the prospect of another lonely weekend, I picked up a bunch of new flowers on the way home today. I will plant them tomorrow:

I hope not to be a murderer again any time soon.
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