divided? united? split?



What an awful name for a video. While this 2-3 min video is a shortcut to spectators who are not informed of the situation but paid a glimpse at the news so that they have heard the situation, it also builds much more tension and anxiety than a society can actually handle. If you are familiar with the news and recent history of the Middle East and know about the Syrian situation for example, there is a similarity: a colonial discourse of power/ powerlessness/ arrogance on the video that tries to run parallels with Syria and Turkish governments: ‘no intention to step down’, ‘moment of sameness across all Middle Eastern nation-states’, ‘tales of unity and gigantic monuments, facades… of imperial power taken on by the once-subject of imperialism’. Oh, please.

Those who study Turkish society would know that what matters right now is the collective pain concealed by the facades. It does not matter if one man gives up power or not, it does not matter if there is a change in the focus from one man to another; this one-man discourse is what actually conceals the heterogeneity of actors and forces that have shaped the tension today. It simply turns on the volume of a cheerful roar from the masses that the country is united, that they support the leader, that they have full faith in what is now a a purge with surprise consequences.

Another thing this video misses is the reality of a country beyond the visual media. I am sharing this video’s link after reading the comments under the video: these comments are full of false identifiers: some commenter/audience is concerned whether Turks are Arabs or Altaic or Caucasian or Greek; some respond to the ‘divide’ by stating that ‘we’ are more united than ever -and ‘oh, haven’t you seen the unity in the Yenikapı demonstration’ moment-; some blame Bloomberg and question its legitimacy to make a video such as this. These are all real comments put down there. But I am worried that they are imaginary comments as if statements of pure belief by teenagers who are being lured by the deadly-beauty of the friends of their older sisters and brothers. Some of those who went to the unity demonstrations went there just because they were public employees and cared about not losing their jobs. Some of the enchanting demonstrators were there in the shape of ‘Rabia connection’ with the Egyptian Ihvan, but they also went there to hear their own voices. Some there because they were cab drivers. What does it mean to drive for money in Istanbul’s traffic? Check out some news on 3rd Bosphorus Bridge that is newly built and prematurely opened to traffic: You will get a glimpse of stories on collective pain and disappointment. And this video, as it sums up the events partially, falls short of giving an account of the collective pain. Well, ain’t this failure global?


When the researcher looks at her disarray and looks back into the mirror for verification, organization, and closets she stuffed her real good arguments in:

I went out(side) to get some strong data with the objective to learn what emotions sound like in public space and what they do to it, to us when they sound. I prepared for it in a quite turbulent time in my life; a lot of bad luck, and a lot of sheer luck happened – I went to the movies to get over it; what I had blindly trusted pulled me down, wasted my time, and blamed me for the wreck, leaving me with loose leaves, and a lot to analyse; what/who pulled me down turned out to be a total joke; and, every weekend since then I’ve been turning to the mirror and searching myself, searching for temperance: are you a joke as well? Is this a wreck? Is this a waste of her time, their time, your time? I actually wasted my own time trying to bear the blame, not working on myself, but working on a fake, bad copy. I trusted I usually lacked 1/5 of the entire focus I was endowed with. I could do it, but I overworked and lost the temper. The argument hides in temperance. Some weekends, I searched my memory but could not remember the last time I did put in all the effort and it worked magic. Wasted my trust on what is hostile to magic – hostile, not critical. I thought I could replace it with data. But the site has been a nervous, weak and fearful place in the background, with a lot of nonsense, people’s negative moods, pride and pretense sucking good vibes and confusing me more. I could not afford wasting time, but I wasted. I have been ranting this whole time; ranting here, ranting when out with friends, ranting with my academic shoes on; ranting with my academic shoes off; I am ranting, I have been holding the good stuff back, the 1/5. Can’t do this to the project and parties involved in it anymore. Can’t hold back. This is a structural moment that calls for tempering and intervention to make sense of a very post-structural site. Rich data shines when tempered.
So I go in(side) to get my arguments back in order to do justice to 4/5 too. I’ve got data, I’ve got method and the bow, I’ve got time and arrows, and having a good advisor rocks. Really does connect.

When somebody asks about silence…

Entering a balcony…

I have long been a nocturnal being; my mind connects better to the work I have before me. And the reason is simple: less distraction (except that I would be taking revenge on six-in-the-morning-get-up-and-prepare-for-school-because-parents-need-to-be-at-work sort of childhood years of schooling when the school is at least an hour away from home). Thanks to early-morning teaching, critical meetings and stressful insomniac periods, I have become more accustomed to early morning air, though, which I am not complaining. There is something exquisitely hopeful about early morning light and rhythms. Early on, if you can’t get enough sleep, don’t get it at all, has been one key tactic to fight bad dreams, avoid low quality sleep and manage time (see: bad management).

Dreams about waking life...

About ten years ago, I would have much stricter criteria about silence in the room when resting; now; you can have a small battle over a contested throne: I will get my sleep without you interrupting me. I can dream about your noise, though, and when I wake up, I tell you who will seize the throne. I’ve got my silence, and I’ve got my voice, all sorted out.

Pockets of a jacket…

So, when a friend asked me about silence (for her class paper) after discussions of what sort of silences can be there, I thought of a silent place as a big, warm jacket where every pocket has enough room to hold stuff such as keys, candies, coffee press and beans, and paper tissues (I don’t know what is wrong with my examples). None gets in the way of any other. It is a generous jacket: has enough room. Only it does not have coins clashing anxiously because of being of the same material and making an ugly sound of nervous encounter. You can wear it without fearing that the neighbors will wake up. Still, every sound can be heard in its own right, and non-aggressively.

I wrote the following response to her, getting out into the fresh air in the balcony one morning (I had woken up suddenly with a feeling that someone else is recording something similar to what I am trying to!) and trying this brief, scruffy record above of my morning, somewhere in central-seaside Kadıköy:

This morning I woke up earlier and found where I live quite silent, normally it’s full of everything, cars, construction, crazy cat woman calling her cat, barks, tram, but literally too many sounds at once. (..) Yep, I do think there is something called silence. It is literally impossible; however, when a sound has enough room to be clearly heard, or let’s say, when a bird song has enough space to be listened to without extra effort, yes, the place is silent. I am looking for such silence in the morning, when I just wake up and when I come home after talking to 20 people and my mind is full of them. I just want to follow one thing, uninterrupted, clear, non domineering, just itself. It could be sound of a motor too, if I am close enough to [focus] on it seamlessly. So am not favoring the so-called natural sounds over manmade ones. It is part of the soundscape once it is figured, made and contributed to the world. (…) Silence and other senses…This is a hard one. You are simply asking a synesthetic question. Other senses some people definitely recognize and put into words when it is already there for you. Others will try to fabricate some answers… So, silence does not smell like anything to me, but it tastes like a meal with full aroma. Few ingredients, each has superb aroma… It feels like I am free, unrestrained, and perhaps unlike on a bus squeezed in the crowd of people, where too many things mix and feel like garbage. Garbage smells always bad. Disgust is the feeling here, so perhaps that is why people love silence so much, it is just the opposite of something disgusting.(…)

So, I was more or less thinking and describing a hi-fi sonic environment where acoustic detail and richness of sound you hear constitute the peace (see Murray Schafer on soundscapes (1); see Andrea Polli (2) ). Such peace may come from the ongoing wake-up mood and pleasantly slow activity of the body, of course. You are not out of a pocket yet. You are at a corner possibly and you know this is temporary and you can still enjoy it, referring to other times which are not so silent. Then silence embodies a peaceful mood where it becomes categorically a different job to think of silence as a threshold mood (what am I talking about?!) than to think of silence as angelic opposite of evil noise; or, of silencing (enervating) masses; or, of silence as politically opposed to an aggressive, no-good voice. I come across these latter versions of described silences and experienced silences in my work; and, I tend to think of them as more than a mere jacket on a bare chest. Layers of experience, encounter, manipulation, contemplation and reaction to an audible act produce silence with a meaning. Think of Futurist noise-makers (3) and what they positively valued in sound rather than silence. I doubt if they made a deliberate effort to perceive silence somewhere around. Think of the politically transgressive agenda of someone who has suffered enough from car horns in traffic and is now making a conscious effort (activism) to control if not exclude them of urban life, just to fill space with some (healer) silence. Think of what it feels like when the (loser) brother of our suffering activist is actually the one who is responsible for some car-horning!..

…A threshold

The “pocket” silence “in my jacket” I did describe earlier seems a little devoid of such meanings of lived time and space, does it not? Perhaps it lacks “being broken” by earlier experience; it may not be part of an after-effect; it does reside with the pure more than an impure, interacted sense of silence? In that sense, can silence be essentialist; can it be constructivist; can it be passive-aggressive and even militant? Seems like yes to all, these are all possible meanings for silence: meanings to attach to silence. However: I have already linked it with peacefulness, but I am now starting to doubt if such peacefulness stays within the realm of “meaningful”. A morning’s peaceful silence in fact takes the days before as reference; there is nothing pure and abtsractly peaceful there. A morning’s peaceful balcony silence is the after-effect of waking up; it is an affective moment of passing a threshold from one sound-field to another sound-field. A morning’s little pocket silence gives me a lot of sounds to pay attention to; one (loud) sound does not mask another (low) sound (except when the rubber on my recorder makes a rubbing sound)… And it is silence what we sense before a roar of a motor, a loud master or a machine too proud to be a complex and fast machine.

The jacket is no more.

(1) Just like that, the jacket tells me what is “a field of interactions”, in Murray Schafer’ s words. (veya bir etkileşim sahasına güzelce düşmenin tastamam tatlılığı elinizde.)

(2) Polli, 2012. Soundscape, sonification, and sound activism. AI & Society, 27: 257–268.

(3) Russolo, 1913. The Art of Noises. http://www.artype.de/Sammlung/pdf/russolo_noise.pdf

*laçin tutalar, kadıköy, istanbul.

twisted fieldwork…

…is the plan that is in full force when most bodies (inc. your sweetest or coolest or grumpy friends, and sometimes those closest to your heart) around you think you don’t have a plan and you confuse them. They’re puzzled at best, worried occasionally, show disapproval and anger at worst. A few will listen and care for your moves. A few will care to be affected by your process and inspire/affect you in return. Some will mislead, some will try to lead, but only a few will actually listen to what you are saying. Those are the ones who has a sense of what you do and can lend you a working compass if you get lost somewhere. They most probably know fieldwork is never complete without twists and turns and ups and downs.

Hint: stop and learn to love the twists. Take friends to movies and theatre and dinners and ignore puzzled looks.  Talk to the coolest minds, they have a compass and know how to use it…and if necessary, let go of the heart. The closest to your heart, yet failing to sing at your beat, can make you suffer from arrhythmia. Fieldwork is a time when you need a spotless, exquisite heart that is moving with the world you study. Once you let go of the heart, the closest to your heart will leave. The grumpy will go next. The confused will stare. The angry will become inaudible -no such frequency of disapproval is fine. I mean, disapproval is fine but conditional approval is full of shame and anger and thus malevolent; it says: see me, see what I am denied of. No, you are on a quest to sense a shifting maze, a twisting and turning stage, and you have to take good notes.  

Written at the end of another field-day full of twists, feels like I’m in a time-warp. And I am content. Not happy, not traumatized, not complaining. Once at a much-anticipated and desired core, you do not complain, rather you take notes.

Laçin T. / Istanbul

names for a phd…/ doktoranın esamesi…

An instructor’s/waitress’ experience of the university-teaching, which resembles Dr. Jekyll / Mr.Hyde positionalities of the 21st century. Enjoy.

Bir okutmanın 21. yüzyılın da bayıldığı Dr.Jekyll / Mr. Hyde pozisyonlarına dair deneyimi:

We expect our teachers to teach us, not our servers, although in the current economy, these might be the same people. (…) If my students can imagine the possibility that choosing to work with their hands does not automatically exclude them from being people who critically examine the world around them, I will feel I’ve done something worthwhile (…).

kaynak: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/19/opinion/your-waitress-your-professor.html?smid=tw-nytimes

a researcher needs her nightmares

After two months full of nightmares -sometimes multiple per night-, here is a quite bitter one because of the feeling it left me with, because I feared this has a greater possibility of becoming real:

At a conference with four or five other fellows. Gloomy room, everyone is so dispirited. I will go last, and have a big file under my arm, more than ready. I sense noone in the room cares about what is being told, though, so I haven’t prepared extras for the audience. Everyone sits and seems pleased to fulfill a formality, a duty. We could not care less about the spirit of why we do this. Never took my coat off in the room, constantly changed seats during presentations, did not feel I belong or am welcomed. Audience sits away and higher above the level of presenters and there are several benches placed in grids in the room that make movement a big struggle. I study the pages of notes, have the outline, know what to tell, yet still feel out of synch. Everyone in my session presents, when it’s my turn, I decide to hush and give up, because I’m convinced they don’t want this, need this, my words are alienating them and me as well.

So, is this the Turkey effect? or is it the lazy me?