Monday, September 27, 2010

Love, all the time?

Gigi: Do you make love all the time?
Gaston Lachaille: I beg your pardon?
Gigi: Do you make love all the time, Gaston?
Gaston Lachaille: Certainly not! The only people who make love all the time are liars.
-- Gigi

Thursday, September 23, 2010

First Resolution for the New Academic Term

"What if a demon crept after you one day or night in your loneliest solitude and said to you:

"This life, as you live it now and have lived it,
you will have to live again and again,
times without number;
and there will be nothing new in it,
but every pain and every joy
and every thought and every sigh
and all the unspeakably small and great in your life
must return to you...""


First Resolution: I must start preparing for my Ph.D. applications. Right now.

"In the library I felt better..."

Words seldom fail to impress me.

I used to think there was something magical in the way that two strangers stared at each other for a split second as they passed each by on the street. Not knowing anything about their separate lives, about how their days commenced, or what they ate for lunch, two people can nevertheless share a moment right there on the busy sidewalk. Their emotions communicate, without any words or niceties, through a temporary tunnel vision that connect the two random people from among the crowds. That's why it's wonderful to take evening walks in the city. For chance encounters.

Today, I realized that there's something equally magical about the way random words speak to you as your browse books in a bookstore. I like to think that just as two people do not always need words to communicate, somehow words don't always need to be uttered in order to share something with you.

Vintage Books (my favorite darling) has launched a new paperback series called Vintage♥Film, which features fiction adapted into popular cinema. On each plain glossy white bookcover, there's a memorable quote from the novels in thematic fonts.

I think there's a stunning statement in this particular design. First, in what ways do we judge a book by its cover? What happens when the cover is made from the material from "within" the book itself? The book, in its physical form, is in fact also a cover, an object of desire, a product of design. It is always judged by the cover. Two different editions of the same book are never the same. They "touch" different, and although the difference may perhaps be a bit too subtle to make masterpieces out of complete bullshit, low quality paper and inappropriate font size can turn an otherwise enjoyable read into utter anguish.

The Vintage♥Film concept is also really interesting because it features classic works that make their way into ordinary minds and everyday lives by means of mass media and popular cinema. For instance, how many people have read or dreaded to read French Lieutenant's Woman by John Fowles? On the other hand, how many remember Meryl Streep's breathtaking performance in the 1981 movie? And how many people associate Fight Club with the name of Chuck Palahniuk instead of Brad Pitt or Edward Norton? This concept is overall a new and creative way to approach the easy "read the book first, watch the movie later" cliché, as it adds a curious twist of chicken/egg dilemma to that literary taboo.

But I liked these books in the new series particularly because they also pinpoint the contemporary chain (mega)bookstore experience, to the dark side of the Barnes&Noble. (I will boldly risk being hypocritical with the levels of my nostalgia here, as I know the cynical mind will question whether I use a fountain pen instead a keyboard as I write these words.) In the contemporary book-buying experience, the immaculate connection between the person and the random words from books in dusty uncategorized shelves is strained. The experience is now turned into one between a successfully or unsuccessfully advertized product and its potential buyer. (They put "bestsellers" next to the cash register, for godssake, as if the books are packs of gum - and those bestsellers may as well be.) Words now need images, advertisements, and NYT tributes to sell themselves, much less share something on the spot with the hungry mind, with cheap disturbing jazz tunes jazzing away in the background.

I picked up Death in Venice, sixth book in the series, Thomas Mann's famous novella, and Visconti's 1971 film - an excerpt of which we read and watched in Sociology of Fine Arts and Music a couple of years ago. The book in its conceptual form, with its certain dark persona, already spoke to me through the title on its binding, as it also took a detour through my personal memories.

The quote on the cover, written in a deadly Catholic font, read:

"This was love at first sight, love everlasting. A feeling unknown, unhoped for..."

I tuned to a random page, to a random sentence: "It was not a bad choice of place."

At the top of the page, the single sentence in the first paragraph: "At that time I was twenty five years old."

It may seem silly and awkward and meaningless, and there may even be a cognitive explanation for this. I know all that. But at that time, I also happened to be 25 and constantly pondering whether this city was liveable at all. It was this exact thought that drove me to the fifth floor of that "media and bookstore" today - "I'm 25 and (still) in Ankara" - and by sheer chance, to that particular book and that random page.

I was, and continue to be, fascinated with the way these two sentences, from a novella and film dear to one of our most precious philosopher/professors, enabled me to take a retrospective look on my horrible day at work, and how by looking back I pieced together the senseless tasteless desperate experiences... And voila! My day turned into an all too familiar short story. Lonely girl meets great fiction, happily walks back home on a rainy evening, deep in thought, her heart swelled with hope. (Mellow indie music in the background.)

"In the library I felt better, words you could trust and look at till you understood them, they couldn't change half way through a sentence like people, so it was easier to spot a lie." (Jeanette Winterson, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Friday, September 10, 2010

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Are you having fun?

Because I'm not. I have the most demoralizing, frustrating and energy-sucking task on my desk at home this weekend. It's more than 8 months overdue and although I'm really close to finishing it this time, somehow I don't believe that is possible. I'll take 2009-2011 General Catalogue to the grave with me and it will never be published.

But I'll go to Altinoluk, Kucukkuyu on Wednesday for a family holiday. A quickie with the sea before the summer ends. Yay! 

I forgot Fancy Friday Picks this week. I'll post this adorable video instead:

Thursday, September 2, 2010

New Obsession: Is Paul dead?

First reaction - "No, it can't be. There's the government, the police and so on.." 
(There was no CSI, no DNA back then.) 
Second thought - "Why would they bother?" 
(Something called "money" that the music industry is lusting after.)
Third - "But he still sings!" 
(Can he write?) (Can Lennon sing?)
Fourth - "No. Yes. No." 
(Even if, maybe, but, still, come oon...)
Last - Blue in the face with total confusion. 
(I don't care, but why??, coincidence, conspiracy, murder, what are the clues??? Why should I care? But WHY??)

Yes, today on September 2, 2010, I heard about "Paul's dead," possibly the biggest hoax in pop history. I've been telling myself that the truth doesn't matter and I don't care, but I've had to do that constantly for the past 2 hours. I already made a quick research. Here are the facts:

- First known printed article on the subject "Is Paul McCartney Dead?" was written by Tim Harper on 17 September 1969.

- Few weeks later, DJ Russ Gibb aired a call from a student at Eastern Michigan University, who stated that when the beginning of the song "Revolution 9" is played backwords, the voice says, "Turn me on, dead man." He also told Gibb that at the very end of "Strawberry Fields Forever", a muffled voice says, "I buried Paul." 

- 3 years earlier, on 9 November 1966, McCartney had had a nasty car accident following an argument during a Beatles recording session. 

- Just around that time, a guy known as William Campbell had won a McCartney look-alike contest.

- McCartney's girlfriend broke up with him after the crash.

- There was a period of recession for Beatles, after which Lennon started to emerge as the new frontman and the major songwriter.

- The suggestion is that dead Paul was replaced by William Campbell "in order to spare the public from grief." 

- Mysteries and clues referring to songs and album covers piled up through the years. Here, here, and here are some examples.

Everyone denied the rumors and the alleged clues, of course. It's all a hoax. And people are still talking about it because I guess that's the magic of celebrity mystery and gossip. Right? You know, just for fun.

Paul McCartney said:
Anyway all of the things that have been, that have made these rumours, to my mind have very ordinary, logical explanations. To the people’s minds who prefer to think of them as rumours, then I am not going to interfere, I am not going to spoil that fantasy. You can think of it like that if you like. However, if the end result, the conclusion you reach is that I am dead, then you are wrong, because I am very much alive, I am alive and living in Scotland.
Oh somebody please put me out of this misery, I can't stop thinking about it!

(Images & some info from wikipedia, some from aboutthebeatles.)

Grudge alert

Woe to that dreadful day in January! What kind of a person am I to be still having nightmares about it, where I try to kick that girl out of my home but she transforms into a jellyfish and literally "sticks around." You repugnant creature of my subconscious, where are your manners?! Even Gregor Samsa was a proud gentleman-like insect who knew his limits, you know. And where are the Inception people when you need them?

By the way, there's a follow-up to this song by Lesley Gore, called Judy's Turn To Cry. (Yaşasın kindariyet!)

PS: I'll be damned if I let another day like that happen again. (Prensipli kindar.)

Kings of Convenience - It's My Party (Hilarious Lesley Gore Cover)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

First Rain of the Fall on September First

The skies were moody all day, you could tell. A sense of precarious uneasiness hang about in the humid air. Then at exactly 6 p.m., as is the custom of rain in this city, winds gushed through the windows and blew the curtains away. Raindrops followed right after, gaining strength by the minute. Curtains were already wet in midair before they could settle back into their place. The sweet cacophony lasted exactly 45 minutes and just before sunset on September First, Fall said "Hi!" to Ankara.
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