eGZact as … or not

Stuff and shit… from all over the web

MISERY

Posted by eGZact on October 13, 2007

To whom shall I tell my grief?”

 

THE twilight of evening. Big flakes of wet snow are whirling lazily about the street lamps, which have just been lighted, and lying in a thin soft layer on roofs, horses’ backs, shoulders, caps. Iona Potapov, the sledge-driver, is all white like a ghost. He sits on the box without stirring, bent as double as the living body can be bent. If a regular snowdrift fell on him it seems as though even then he would not think it necessary to shake it off. . . . His little mare is white and motionless too. Her stillness, the angularity of her lines, and the stick-like straightness of her legs make her look like a halfpenny gingerbread horse. She is probably lost in thought. Anyone who has been torn away from the plough, from the familiar gray landscapes, and cast into this slough, full of monstrous lights, of unceasing uproar and hurrying people, is bound to think. Read the rest of this entry »

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THE STEPPE

Posted by eGZact on October 13, 2007

The Story of a Journey

EARLY one morning in July a shabby covered chaise, one of those antediluvian chaises without springs in which no one travels in Russia nowadays, except merchant’s clerks, dealers and the less well-to-do among priests, drove out of N., the principal town of the province of Z., and rumbled noisily along the posting-track. It rattled and creaked at every movement; the pail, hanging on behind, chimed in gruffly, and from these sounds alone and from the wretched rags of leather hanging loose about its peeling body one could judge of its decrepit age and readiness to drop to pieces.

Two of the inhabitants of N. were sitting in the chaise; they were a merchant of N. called Ivan Ivanitch Kuzmitchov, a man with a shaven face wearing glasses and a straw hat, more like a government clerk than a merchant, and Father Christopher Sireysky, the priest of the Church of St. Nikolay at N., a little old man with long hair, in a grey canvas cassock, a wide-brimmed top-hat and a coloured embroidered girdle. The former was absorbed in thought, and kept tossing his head to shake off drowsiness; in his countenance an habitual business-like reserve was struggling with the genial expression of a man who has just said good-bye to his relatives and has had a good drink at parting. The latter gazed with moist eyes wonderingly at God’s world, and his smile was so broad that it seemed to embrace even the brim of his hat; his face was red and looked frozen. Both of them, Father Christopher as well as Kuzmitchov, were going to sell wool. At parting with their families they had just eaten heartily of pastry puffs and cream, and although it was so early in the morning had had a glass or two. . . . Both were in the best of humours.

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The Nature of Dominance

Posted by eGZact on October 13, 2007

Dominance is a state of mind, like honor it is a gift one gives oneself. It is a particular way of viewing the world. To begin with it is a matter of accepting responsibility not only for your own actions but also anyone under your discipline as submissives. In the not to distant past this responsibility was expressed in the Code Duello, in which a gentleman was held responsible for not only the honor of his behavior but also for the behavior of his household. This responsibility is the source from which all Dominants, from the Old Guard to today, receive their right to dominate. Until a Dominant understands this basic principle he or she is, to my mind, not worthy of the submission of anyone. This is a very dogmatic stand, I understand, but one need not spend a lot of time in the scene to see how important this concept is.

So, how does one live with this lofty ideal? To begin with a Dom must live up to his own standards. As anyone whose life has been touched by the military knows, one cannot expect to discipline anyone until one is disciplined oneself. Sobriety, moderation and rationality are the marks of the successful Dom(me)s I’ve met over the years. While this might seem to be more the code of the vanilla Boy Scout, you have to understand it within the context of what we do. In the scene you can be all kinds of evil things and express all kinds of destructive emotions, but underneath it all you have to understand that underneath it all there is a human being who has placed their well being under your care and trusts that you will be careful of it. This trust is the wellspring of his or her submission and to violate it, by destructive, inconsistent behavior is to risk losing that trust, which will lead, inevitably, to the loss of the sub, if not worse. How can you take responsibility for his or he behavior if your own behavior is erratic and careless? How can he or she prop his or her accountability against a wall with is rotten? The wall is your control, which must be consistent and unbending. You must view the relationship, within the parameters you have set between or among yourselves, rather like the training of a child or perhaps even more cogently, an animal. The sub has placed his or her humanity at your disposal, his or her responsibility as a person, so that you can return them to the animalistic state from which subspace arises. You must make sure that no mistreatment is a part of that experience, the wall must hold firm. Now, what do you, the Dominant, get out of the experience? To begin with, there is the obedience. This sounds so simple, but for all but the most exceptional contemporary woman this is extremely difficult, particularly for women. She has been taught to break the molds of the old society, which set up an antique model of womanhood, and, finding that she wants, however temporarily, to be placed back in that mold, is something of a shock. Many women who love the physical sensations of what we do have trouble realizing that obedience is the first requirement (at least for most Dom(me)s) for anyone I’m going to play with, for safety reasons if nothing else. If your partner is having trouble understanding this I would suggest that you view this as your first assignment in training. It is rather similar to gentling a horse. Take it slowly, expect and make sure not to reinforce resistance and never let the subject divert from your goal, to get her to obey. (Ancillary to this you have to make sure you do not ask unreasonable things. Expecting someone to declares herself submissive to suck your cock on the first date certainly falls into this category.)Submission is the yin to the Dominant’s yang. It is the passive compliment to dominance and the fulfilling principle that propels the Dominance. They cannot exist without each other but their natures are not opposites. The nature of submission does not remove this responsibility; one does not become a victim. One becomes a receiver, both the sexual instrument and the audience that experiences the concert. For this reason a submissive is expected to obey, to follow the lead of the Dominant partner. Submissiveness is about giving up one’s control, one’s personhood for the time being in order to receive the reward of subspace.

Just as one must think of training a submissive rather like training an intelligent animal so one must think of oneself as a submissive as someone who seeks to return to the animal part of humanity. Not everyone’s fantasy of submission is about being turned into an animal, it is a rather specialized branch of S/m, but everyone who submits in the end wants to lose one’s control, to become an animal which only feels, doesn’t think or manipulate, just feels. It is the loss of control that is the great attraction of submission. The classic and very true cliché of the high-powered man who goes home to become a little boy is the prime example of this. I suspect that the greater empowerment of women is part of what has brought more female masochists into the scene. They make decisions all day so they like nothing better than to come home and have all the decisions taken away from them. It is the eternal paradox of S/m that some of our strongest, most powerful people are the ones who submit.

This loss of control, however, goes deeper than domestic responsibilities. Describing the submissive experience within the scene of erotic torture is very difficult. One must begin in the right frame of mind, submissive, pliant, ready to accept anything, no matter how unpleasant. You must set yourself that you will not call your safe word, no matter how unpleasant what you are feeling. Then you have to let go of your intellect, let your mind feel all those sensations and the results are climaxes that take you beyond the mundane world of sight, sound and feeling and into the nether realm of pure sensation where no culture, no society, no words stand between you and the universe. This is the understanding that is the nature of submission. This is the paradox of S/m. While the submissive receives all the sensation, the Dominant does all the work. He or she receives that sense of power that comes from being able to control. He or she receives the homage due all that work, but in the end it is the submissive who gets to touch heaven.

Source: http://www.domsubfriends.com/voye/articles/4/

 

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South African Tourism Website – Damn Good Answers

Posted by eGZact on October 11, 2007

These questions about South Africa were posted on a South African Tourism Website and were answered by the website owner.

Q: Does it ever get windy in South Africa? I have never seen it rain on TV, so how do the plants grow? (UK)

A: We import all plants fully grown and then just sit around watching them die.

Q: Will I be able to see elephants in the street? (USA)

A: Depends how much you’ve been drinking.

Read the rest of this entry »

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FEAR

Posted by eGZact on October 11, 2007

She was afraid, she knew how much he treasured his heritage; and she had done the unthinkable, one of his treasures from the past; irreplaceable, priceless in his sight, she had destroyed.Her lord though normally a stern disciplinarian; was a loving master who delighted her so often. Now she the good girl, the respectful slave; had broken the trust he put in her.Given the care of those things dearest to his heart, she had failed to be careful and destroyed that which not only pleased him, but soothed his soul. The pottery vase was an antique created by Cherokee who never walked “the trail of tears”. She knew from lessons at his knee, that this was a grievous time for his people; as terrible a symbol of his native heritage, as “the middle passage” was of his African heritage. Read the rest of this entry »

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Fucking weird name

Posted by eGZact on October 10, 2007

Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateapokaiwhenuakitanatahu is the Maori name for an otherwise unremarkable hill, 305 meters high, close to Porangahu south of Waipukurau in southern Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand. The name is often shortened to Taumata by the locals for ease of conversation.

The name on the sign that marks this hill is ‘Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitan atahu’, which translates roughly as The summit where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, the climber of mountains, the land-swallower who travelled about, played his flute to his loved one. At 85 letters, it is one of the longest place names in the world. Another even longer form has 92 letters, and has been entered into the Guinness Book of Records as such. It is apparently more recent, or perhaps more formal. There are claims that the second version of the name, which is now shown on the sign, has been in use all along by local Maori. The Welsh argue that this version has been contrived to be longer than Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, which some others argue was contrived to be the longest British place name in the first place.

Wikipedia

 

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Brown or Pink?

Posted by eGZact on October 10, 2007

Brown or pink… STOP and THINK!

brown-or-pink.png

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They’ve found Popeye’s Mom

Posted by eGZact on October 10, 2007

Yeap, they finally found her.

Isn’t she gorgeous?

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Carmen

Posted by eGZact on October 10, 2007

My name is Carmen,” she told him.
“That’s a beautiful name, he said. “Did your mother give it to you?”
“No,” she replied. “I gave it to myself. It reflects the things I like most in my life – cars and men.”

They continued to talk and finally she asked “What’s your name?”

“Beerfuck,” he replied.

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Labia minora

Posted by eGZact on October 10, 2007

The labia minora (singular: labium minus) are two small longitudinal cutaneous folds, situated between the labia majora, and extending from the clitoris obliquely downward, lateralward, and backward for about 4 cm on either side of the vulval vestibule, between which and the labia majora they end; in the virgin the posterior ends of the labia minora are usually joined across the middle line by a fold of skin, named the frenulum labiorum pudendi or fourchette.

Anteriorly, each labium minus (nympha) divides into two portions: the upper division passes above the clitoris to meet its fellow of the opposite side, although not necessarily its equal in size, forming a fold which overhangs the glans clitoridis, and is named the preputium clitoridis; the lower division passes beneath the glans clitoridis and becomes united to its under surface, forming, with its fellow of the opposite side, although not necessarily its equal in size, the frenulum clitoridis.On the opposed surfaces of the labia minora are numerous sebaceous follicles.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

For a more detailed information, check this sexy labia

 

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Defining Bullshit

Posted by eGZact on October 10, 2007

A philosophy professor says it’s a process, not a product.

“We live in an era of unprecedented bullshit production,” observes Laura Penny, author of the forthcoming (and wittily titled) Your Call Is Important to Us: The Truth About Bullshit. But what is bullshit, exactly? By which I mean: What are its defining characteristics? What is its Platonic essence? How does bullshit differ from such precursors as humbug, poppycock, tommyrot, hooey, twaddle, balderdash, claptrap, palaver, hogwash, buncombe (or “bunk”), hokum, drivel, flapdoodle, bullpucky, and all the other pejoratives favored by H.L. Mencken and his many imitators? The scholar who answers the question, “What is bullshit?” bids boldly to define the spirit of the present age. 

Enter Harry G. Frankfurt. In the fall 1986 issue of Raritan, Frankfurt, a retired professor of philosophy at Princeton, took a whack at it in an essay titled “On Bullshit.” Frankfurt reprinted the essay two years later in his book The Importance of What We Care About: Philosophical Essays. Last month he republished it a second time as a very small book. Frankfurt’s conclusion, which I caught up with in its latest repackaging, is that bullshit is defined not so much by the end product as by the process by which it is created.

Eureka! Frankfurt’s definition is one of those not-at-all-obvious insights that become blindingly obvious the moment they are expressed. Although Frankfurt doesn’t point this out, it immediately occurred to me upon closing his book that the word “bullshit” is both noun and verb, and that this duality distinguishes bullshit not only from the aforementioned Menckenesque antecedents, but also from its contemporary near-relative, horseshit. It is possible to bullshit somebody, but it is not possible to poppycock, or to twaddle, or to horseshit anyone. When we speak of bullshit, then, we speak, implicitly, of the action that brought the bullshit into being: Somebody bullshitted. In this respect the word “bullshit” is identical to the word “lie,” for when we speak of a lie we speak, implicitly, of the action that brought the lie into being: Somebody lied. 

By Timothy Noah
http://slate.com/id/2114268/

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Dawn of a thirsty century

Posted by eGZact on October 9, 2007

The amount of water in the world is limited. The human race, and the other species which share the planet, cannot expect an infinite supply.

Water covers about two-thirds of the Earth’s surface, admittedly. But most is too salty for use. Only 2.5% of the world’s water is not salty, and two-thirds of that is locked up in the icecaps and glaciers. Of what is left, about 20% is in remote areas, and much of the rest arrives at the wrong time and place, as monsoons and floods. Humans have available less than 0.08% of all the Earth’s water. Yet over the next two decades our use is estimated to increase by about 40%.

Water shortages set to grow
In 1999 the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) reported that 200 scientists in 50 countries had identified water shortage as one of the two most worrying problems for the new millennium (the other was global warming). We use about 70% of the water we have in agriculture.

But the World Water Council believes that by 2020 we shall need 17% more water than is available if we are to feed the world. So if we go on as we are, millions more will go to bed hungry and thirsty each night than do so already.

Today, one person in five across the world has no access to safe drinking water, and one in two lacks safe sanitation. Today, and every day, more than 30,000 children die before reaching their fifth birthdays, killed either by hunger or by easily-preventable diseases. And adequate safe water is key to good health and a proper diet. In China, for example, it takes 1,000 tonnes of water to produce one tonne of wheat.

Inefficiency behind water crisis
There are several reasons for the water crisis. One is the simple rise in population, and the desire for better living standards. In China it takes 1,000 tonnes of water to produce one tonne of wheat.
Another is the inefficiency of the way we use much of our water. Irrigation allows wastage on a prodigal scale, with the water trickling away or simply evaporating before it can do any good. And pollution is making more of the water that is available to us unfit for use. The Aral Sea in central Asia is one of the starkest examples of what pollution can do, to the land as well as the water.Increasingly, governments are seeking to solve their water problems by turning away from reliance on rainfall and surface water, and using subterranean supplies of groundwater instead. But that is like making constant withdrawals from a bank account without ever paying anything into it.

Looking for solutions
And using up irreplaceable groundwater does not simply mean the depletion of a once-and-for-all resource. Rivers, wetlands and lakes that depend on it can dry out. Saline seawater can flow in to replace the fresh water that has been pumped out.
Pumping groundwater is like making constant withdrawals from a bank account without ever paying anything into it. And the emptied underground aquifers can be compressed, causing surface subsidence – a problem familiar in Bangkok, Mexico City and Venice.

There are some ways to begin to tackle the problem. Irrigation systems which drip water directly onto plants are one, precision sprinklers another.There will be scope to plant less water-intensive crops, and perhaps desalination may play a part – though it is energy-hungry and leaves quantities of brine for disposal.
Climate change will probably bring more rain to some regions and less to others, and its overall impact remains uncertain.

But if we are to get through the water crisis, we should heed the UNEP report’s reminder that we have only one interdependent planet to share.
It said: “The environment remains largely outside the mainstream of everyday human consciousness, and is still considered an add-on to the fabric of life.”

By Alex Kirby
BBC News Online environment correspondent
Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/science/nature/755497.stm

 

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“The gates of Paradise are under the shadows of the swords.”

Posted by eGZact on September 26, 2007

 

 

The Mind of an Islamic Terrorist

The mind of an Islamic terrorist is difficult for a Western person to comprehend. What could lead a person to cause his or her own violent death is a question that is frequently raised. It is contrary to every human emotion that we have. Yet, we know there are hundreds of Islamic fundamentalists who are willing to kill and be killed for Allah.

An important reason is the promise that the gates of Paradise are under the shadows of the swords. During Muhammad’s life, like today, there were many individuals who eagerly anticipated killing and dying in the Cause of Allah. The following is an account from the ancient classic Islamic text by Imam Muslim. Read the rest of this entry »

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Unmasking “An Inconvenient Truth”

Posted by eGZact on September 11, 2007

An Inconvenient Truth puts Al Gore at the vanguard of a growing worldwide movement that claims there is a planetary emergency from global warming. It is claimed that the looming Armageddon is of our own doing because of the burning of fossil fuels that are causing a build-up of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The more developed a country’s economy then the more it is to blame, and the more it behoves that country to change its profligate ways. An Inconvenient Truth is a call to arms for government and community action to fight a perceived emergency.

The planetary emergency is presented as a logical extension of recent climate change.

Dramatic photos of glacier retreat and other graphics conjure up an image that the earth is changing as it has never changed before. It is claimed that the impacts of climate change are already being felt in biosphere responses that are leading to species loss, disease explosion and landscape destruction.

Much of Al Gore’s evidence for his claims lacks credibility when examined without the emotive baggage of impending disaster, blame and simplistic political solutions.

Continue reading on: http://ff.org/centers/csspp/pdf/20070330_kininmonth.pdf

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Oded Balilty wins Pulitzer Prize for breaking news photography

Posted by eGZact on September 10, 2007

Associated Press – April 16, 2007


NEW YORK — Associated Press photographer Oded Balilty has won The Pulitzer Prize for breaking news photography for his picture of a lone Jewish woman defying Israeli security forces in the West Bank.
It’s the 49th Pulitzer for the world’s oldest and largest news cooperative and the 30th awarded for AP photos.Balilty’s photo shows a Jewish settler struggling with an Israeli security officer during clashes that erupted as authorities evacuated the West Bank settlement outpost of Amona, east of the Palestinian town of Ramallah, on Feb. 1, 2006.

Thousands of troops in riot gear and on horseback clashed with hundreds of tone-throwing Jewish settlers holed up behind barbed wire and on rooftops in this illegal West Bank settlement outpost that Wednesday, after the Supreme Court cleared the way for the demolition of nine homes at the site.”It is a stunning single image that captures the chaos and emotion of that evacuation,” said AP Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll. She also cited the work of an 11-photographer AP team, including Balilty, that was a Pulitzer finalist in the same category for their work covering the conflict in Lebanon between Israel and Hezbollah.AP President and CEO Tom Curley praised both the Pulitzer Prize winner and the AP finalist team, which included Balilty, Kevork Djansezian of Los Angeles, Matt Dunham of London, Sebastian Scheiner of Israel, Kevin Frayer of Jerusalem, Mohammed Zaatari of Lebanon, Hussein Malla of Beirut, Lefteris Pitarakis of London, Pier Paolo Cito of Rome, Baz Ratner of Israel and David Guttenfelder of Tokyo.”Their success in the breaking-news photo category enhances the truly spectacular and enduring contribution made by AP photo journalists over decades,” Curley said. Read the rest of this entry »

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Hanzi Smatter

Posted by eGZact on September 1, 2007

A site dedicated to the misuse of Chinese characters in western culture: http://hanzismatter.com/

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Nobel Lecture | Orhan Pamuk – My Father’s Suitcase

Posted by eGZact on August 27, 2007

December 7, 2006 | © THE NOBEL FOUNDATION 2006

 


Two years before his death, my father gave me a small suitcase filled with his writings, manuscripts and notebooks. Assuming his usual joking, mocking air, he told me he wanted me to read them after he was gone, by which he meant after he died.‘Just take a look,’ he said, looking slightly embarrassed. ‘See if there’s anything inside that you can use. Maybe after I’m gone you can make a selection and publish it.’We were in my study, surrounded by books. My father was searching for a place to set down the suitcase, wandering back and forth like a man who wished to rid himself of a painful burden.

In the end, he deposited it quietly in an unobtrusive corner. It was a shaming moment that neither of us ever forgot, but once it had passed and we had gone back into our usual roles, taking life lightly, our joking, mocking personas took over and we relaxed. We talked as we always did, about the trivial things of everyday life, and Turkey’s neverending political troubles, and my father’s mostly failed business ventures, without feeling too much sorrow.I remember that after my father left, I spent several days walking back and forth past the suitcase without once touching it. I was already familiar with this small, black, leather suitcase, and its lock, and its rounded corners. My father would take it with him on short trips and sometimes use it to carry documents to work. I remembered that when I was a child, and my father came home from a trip, I would open this little suitcase and rummage through his things, savouring the scent of cologne and foreign countries. This suitcase was a familiar friend, a powerful reminder of my childhood, my past, but now I couldn’t even touch it. Why? No doubt it was because of the mysterious weight of its contents. I am now going to speak of this weight’s meaning. It is what a person creates when he shuts himself up in a room, sits down at a table, and retires to a corner to express his thoughts – that is, the meaning of literature.When I did touch my father’s suitcase, I still could not bring myself to open it, but I did know what was inside some of those notebooks. I had seen my father writing things in a few of them. This was not the first time I had heard of the heavy load inside the suitcase. My father had a large library; in his youth, in the late 1940s, he had wanted to be an Istanbul poet, and had translated Valéry into Turkish, but he had not wanted to live the sort of life that came with writing poetry in a poor country with few readers. My father’s father – my grandfather – had been a wealthy business man; my father had led a comfortable life as a child and a young man, and he had no wish to endure hardship for the sake of literature, for writing. He loved life with all its beauties – this I understood.The first thing that kept me distant from the contents of my father’s suitcase was, of course, the fear that I might not like what I read. Because my father knew this, he had taken the precaution of acting as if he did not take its contents seriously. After working as a writer for 25 years, it pained me to see this. But I did not even want to be angry at my father for failing to take literature seriously enough… My real fear, the crucial thing that I did not wish to know or discover, was the possibility that my father might be a good writer. I couldn’t open my father’s suitcase because I feared this. Even worse, I couldn’t even admit this myself openly. If true and great literature emerged from my father’s suitcase, I would have to acknowledge that inside my father there existed an entirely different man. This was a frightening possibility. Because even at my advanced age I wanted my father to be only my father – not a writer.

A writer is someone who spends years patiently trying to discover the second being inside him, and the world that makes him who he is: when I speak of writing, what comes first to my mind is not a novel, a poem, or literary tradition, it is a person who shuts himself up in a room, sits down at a table, and alone, turns inward; amid its shadows, he builds a new world with words. This man – or this woman – may use a typewriter, profit from the ease of a computer, or write with a pen on paper, as I have done for 30 years. As he writes, he can drink tea or coffee, or smoke cigarettes. From time to time he may rise from his table to look out through the window at the children playing in the street, and, if he is lucky, at trees and a view, or he can gaze out at a black wall. He can write poems, plays, or novels, as I do. All these differences come after the crucial task of sitting down at the table and patiently turning inwards. To write is to turn this inward gaze into words, to study the world into which that person passes when he retires into himself, and to do so with patience, obstinacy, and joy. As I sit at my table, for days, months, years, slowly adding new words to the empty page, I feel as if I am creating a new world, as if I am bringing into being that other person inside me, in the same way someone might build a bridge or a dome, stone by stone. The stones we writers use are words. As we hold them in our hands, sensing the ways in which each of them is connected to the others, looking at them sometimes from afar, sometimes almost caressing them with our fingers and the tips of our pens, weighing them, moving them around, year in and year out, patiently and hopefully, we create new worlds.

The writer’s secret is not inspiration – for it is never clear where it comes from – it is his stubbornness, his patience. That lovely Turkish saying – to dig a well with a needle – seems to me to have been said with writers in mind. In the old stories, I love the patience of Ferhat, who digs through mountains for his love – and I understand it, too. In my novel, My Name is Red, when I wrote about the old Persian miniaturists who had drawn the same horse with the same passion for so many years, memorising each stroke, that they could recreate that beautiful horse even with their eyes closed, I knew I was talking about the writing profession, and my own life. If a writer is to tell his own story – tell it slowly, and as if it were a story about other people – if he is to feel the power of the story rise up inside him, if he is to sit down at a table and patiently give himself over to this art – this craft – he must first have been given some hope. The angel of inspiration (who pays regular visits to some and rarely calls on others) favours the hopeful and the confident, and it is when a writer feels most lonely, when he feels most doubtful about his efforts, his dreams, and the value of his writing – when he thinks his story is only his story – it is at such moments that the angel chooses to reveal to him stories, images and dreams that will draw out the world he wishes to build. If I think back on the books to which I have devoted my entire life, I am most surprised by those moments when I have felt as if the sentences, dreams, and pages that have made me so ecstatically happy have not come from my own imagination – that another power has found them and generously presented them to me.

I was afraid of opening my father’s suitcase and reading his notebooks because I knew that he would not tolerate the difficulties I had endured, that it was not solitude he loved but mixing with friends, crowds, salons, jokes, company. But later my thoughts took a different turn. These thoughts, these dreams of renunciation and patience, were prejudices I had derived from my own life and my own experience as a writer. There were plenty of brilliant writers who wrote surrounded by crowds and family life, in the glow of company and happy chatter. In addition, my father had, when we were young, tired of the monotony of family life, and left us to go to Paris, where – like so many writers – he’d sat in his hotel room filling notebooks. I knew, too, that some of those very notebooks were in this suitcase, because during the years before he brought it to me, my father had finally begun to talk to me about that period in his life. He spoke about those years even when I was a child, but he would not mention his vulnerabilities, his dreams of becoming a writer, or the questions of identity that had plagued him in his hotel room. He would tell me instead about all the times he’d seen Sartre on the pavements of Paris, about the books he’d read and the films he’d seen, all with the elated sincerity of someone imparting very important news. When I became a writer, I never forgot that it was partly thanks to the fact that I had a father who would talk of world writers so much more than he spoke of pashas or great religious leaders. So perhaps I had to read my father’s notebooks with this in mind, and remembering how indebted I was to his large library. I had to bear in mind that when he was living with us, my father, like me, enjoyed being alone with his books and his thoughts – and not pay too much attention to the literary quality of his writing.

But as I gazed so anxiously at the suitcase my father had bequeathed me, I also felt that this was the very thing I would not be able to do. My father would sometimes stretch out on the divan in front of his books, abandon the book in his hand, or the magazine and drift off into a dream, lose himself for the longest time in his thoughts. When I saw on his face an expression so very different from the one he wore amid the joking, teasing, and bickering of family life – when I saw the first signs of an inward gaze – I would, especially during my childhood and my early youth, understand, with trepidation, that he was discontent. Now, so many years later, I know that this discontent is the basic trait that turns a person into a writer. To become a writer, patience and toil are not enough: we must first feel compelled to escape crowds, company, the stuff of ordinary, everyday life, and shut ourselves up in a room. We wish for patience and hope so that we can create a deep world in our writing. But the desire to shut oneself up in a room is what pushes us into action. The precursor of this sort of independent writer – who reads his books to his heart’s content, and who, by listening only to the voice of his own conscience, disputes with other’s words, who, by entering into conversation with his books develops his own thoughts, and his own world – was most certainly Montaigne, in the earliest days of modern literature. Montaigne was a writer to whom my father returned often, a writer he recommended to me. I would like to see myself as belonging to the tradition of writers who – wherever they are in the world, in the East or in the West – cut themselves off from society, and shut themselves up with their books in their room. The starting point of true literature is the man who shuts himself up in his room with his books.

But once we shut ourselves away, we soon discover that we are not as alone as we thought. We are in the company of the words of those who came before us, of other people’s stories, other people’s books, other people’s words, the thing we call tradition. I believe literature to be the most valuable hoard that humanity has gathered in its quest to understand itself. Societies, tribes, and peoples grow more intelligent, richer, and more advanced as they pay attention to the troubled words of their authors, and, as we all know, the burning of books and the denigration of writers are both signals that dark and improvident times are upon us. But literature is never just a national concern. The writer who shuts himself up in a room and first goes on a journey inside himself will, over the years, discover literature’s eternal rule: he must have the artistry to tell his own stories as if they were other people’s stories, and to tell other people’s stories as if they were his own, for this is what literature is. But we must first travel through other people’s stories and books.

My father had a good library – 1 500 volumes in all – more than enough for a writer. By the age of 22, I had perhaps not read them all, but I was familiar with each book – I knew which were important, which were light but easy to read, which were classics, which an essential part of any education, which were forgettable but amusing accounts of local history, and which French authors my father rated very highly. Sometimes I would look at this library from a distance and imagine that one day, in a different house, I would build my own library, an even better library – build myself a world. When I looked at my father’s library from afar, it seemed to me to be a small picture of the real world. But this was a world seen from our own corner, from Istanbul. The library was evidence of this. My father had built his library from his trips abroad, mostly with books from Paris and America, but also with books bought from the shops that sold books in foreign languages in the 40s and 50s and Istanbul’s old and new booksellers, whom I also knew. My world is a mixture of the local – the national – and the West. In the 70s, I, too, began, somewhat ambitiously, to build my own library. I had not quite decided to become a writer – as I related in Istanbul, I had come to feel that I would not, after all, become a painter, but I was not sure what path my life would take. There was inside me a relentless curiosity, a hope-driven desire to read and learn, but at the same time I felt that my life was in some way lacking, that I would not be able to live like others. Part of this feeling was connected to what I felt when I gazed at my father’s library – to be living far from the centre of things, as all of us who lived in Istanbul in those days were made to feel, that feeling of living in the provinces. There was another reason for feeling anxious and somehow lacking, for I knew only too well that I lived in a country that showed little interest in its artists – be they painters or writers – and that gave them no hope. In the 70s, when I would take the money my father gave me and greedily buy faded, dusty, dog-eared books from Istanbul’s old booksellers, I would be as affected by the pitiable state of these second-hand bookstores – and by the despairing dishevelment of the poor, bedraggled booksellers who laid out their wares on roadsides, in mosque courtyards, and in the niches of crumbling walls – as I was by their books.

As for my place in the world – in life, as in literature, my basic feeling was that I was ‘not in the centre’. In the centre of the world, there was a life richer and more exciting than our own, and with all of Istanbul, all of Turkey, I was outside it. Today I think that I share this feeling with most people in the world. In the same way, there was a world literature, and its centre, too, was very far away from me. Actually what I had in mind was Western, not world, literature, and we Turks were outside it. My father’s library was evidence of this. At one end, there were Istanbul’s books – our literature, our local world, in all its beloved detail – and at the other end were the books from this other, Western, world, to which our own bore no resemblance, to which our lack of resemblance gave us both pain and hope. To write, to read, was like leaving one world to find consolation in the other world’s otherness, the strange and the wondrous. I felt that my father had read novels to escape his life and flee to the West – just as I would do later. Or it seemed to me that books in those days were things we picked up to escape our own culture, which we found so lacking. It wasn’t just by reading that we left our Istanbul lives to travel West – it was by writing, too. To fill those notebooks of his, my father had gone to Paris, shut himself up in his room, and then brought his writings back to Turkey. As I gazed at my father’s suitcase, it seemed to me that this was what was causing me disquiet. After working in a room for 25 years to survive as a writer in Turkey, it galled me to see my father hide his deep thoughts inside this suitcase, to act as if writing was work that had to be done in secret, far from the eyes of society, the state, the people. Perhaps this was the main reason why I felt angry at my father for not taking literature as seriously as I did.

Actually I was angry at my father because he had not led a life like mine, because he had never quarrelled with his life, and had spent his life happily laughing with his friends and his loved ones. But part of me knew that I could also say that I was not so much ‘angry’ as ‘jealous’, that the second word was more accurate, and this, too, made me uneasy. That would be when I would ask myself in my usual scornful, angry voice: ‘What is happiness?’ Was happiness thinking that I lived a deep life in that lonely room? Or was happiness leading a comfortable life in society, believing in the same things as everyone else, or acting as if you did? Was it happiness, or unhappiness, to go through life writing in secret, while seeming to be in harmony with all around one? But these were overly ill-tempered questions. Wherever had I got this idea that the measure of a good life was happiness? People, papers, everyone acted as if the most important measure of a life was happiness. Did this alone not suggest that it might be worth trying to find out if the exact opposite was true? After all, my father had run away from his family so many times – how well did I know him, and how well could I say I understood his disquiet?

So this was what was driving me when I first opened my father’s suitcase. Did my father have a secret, an unhappiness in his life about which I knew nothing, something he could only endure by pouring it into his writing? As soon as I opened the suitcase, I recalled its scent of travel, recognised several notebooks, and noted that my father had shown them to me years earlier, but without dwelling on them very long. Most of the notebooks I now took into my hands he had filled when he had left us and gone to Paris as a young man. Whereas I, like so many writers I admired – writers whose biographies I had read – wished to know what my father had written, and what he had thought, when he was the age I was now. It did not take me long to realise that I would find nothing like that here. What caused me most disquiet was when, here and there in my father’s notebooks, I came upon a writerly voice. This was not my father’s voice, I told myself; it wasn’t authentic, or at least it did not belong to the man I’d known as my father. Underneath my fear that my father might not have been my father when he wrote, was a deeper fear: the fear that deep inside I was not authentic, that I would find nothing good in my father’s writing, this increased my fear of finding my father to have been overly influenced by other writers and plunged me into a despair that had afflicted me so badly when I was young, casting my life, my very being, my desire to write, and my work into question. During my first ten years as a writer, I felt these anxieties more deeply, and even as I fought them off, I would sometimes fear that one day, I would have to admit to defeat – just as I had done with painting – and succumbing to disquiet, give up novel writing, too.

I have already mentioned the two essential feelings that rose up in me as I closed my father’s suitcase and put it away: the sense of being marooned in the provinces, and the fear that I lacked authenticity. This was certainly not the first time they had made themselves felt. For years I had, in my reading and my writing, been studying, discovering, deepening these emotions, in all their variety and unintended consequences, their nerve endings, their triggers, and their many colours. Certainly my spirits had been jarred by the confusions, the sensitivities and the fleeting pains that life and books had sprung on me, most often as a young man. But it was only by writing books that I came to a fuller understanding of the problems of authenticity (as in My Name is Red and The Black Book) and the problems of life on the periphery (as in Snow and Istanbul). For me, to be a writer is to acknowledge the secret wounds that we carry inside us, the wounds so secret that we ourselves are barely aware of them, and to patiently explore them, know them, illuminate them, to own these pains and wounds, and to make them a conscious part of our spirits and our writing.

A writer talks of things that everyone knows but does not know they know. To explore this knowledge, and to watch it grow, is a pleasurable thing; the reader is visiting a world at once familiar and miraculous. When a writer shuts himself up in a room for years on end to hone his craft – to create a world – if he uses his secret wounds as his starting point, he is, whether he knows it or not, putting a great faith in humanity. My confidence comes from the belief that all human beings resemble each other, that others carry wounds like mine – that they will therefore understand. All true literature rises from this childish, hopeful certainty that all people resemble each other. When a writer shuts himself up in a room for years on end, with this gesture he suggests a single humanity, a world without a centre.

But as can be seen from my father’s suitcase and the pale colours of our lives in Istanbul, the world did have a centre, and it was far away from us. In my books I have described in some detail how this basic fact evoked a Checkovian sense of provinciality, and how, by another route, it led to my questioning my authenticity. I know from experience that the great majority of people on this earth live with these same feelings, and that many suffer from an even deeper sense of insufficiency, lack of security and sense of degradation, than I do. Yes, the greatest dilemmas facing humanity are still landlessness, homelessness, and hunger… But today our televisions and newspapers tell us about these fundamental problems more quickly and more simply than literature can ever do. What literature needs most to tell and investigate today are humanity’s basic fears : the fear of being left outside, and the fear of counting for nothing, and the feelings of worthlessness that come with such fears; the collective humiliations, vulnerabilities, slights, grievances, sensitivities, and imagined insults, and the nationalist boasts and inflations that are their next of kind… Whenever I am confronted by such sentiments, and by the irrational, overstated language in which they are usually expressed, I know they touch on a darkness inside me. We have often witnessed peoples, societies and nations outside the Western world – and I can identify with them easily – succumbing to fears that sometimes lead them to commit stupidities, all because of their fears of humiliation and their sensitivities. I also know that in the West – a world with which I can identify with the same ease – nations and peoples taking an excessive pride in their wealth, and in their having brought us the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and Modernism, have, from time to time, succumbed to a self-satisfaction that is almost as stupid.

This means that my father was not the only one, that we all give too much importance to the idea of a world with a centre. Whereas the thing that compels us to shut ourselves up to write in our rooms for years on end is a faith in the opposite; the belief that one day our writings will be read and understood, because people all the world over resemble each other. But this, as I know from my own and my father’s writing, is a troubled optimism, scarred by the anger of being consigned to the margins, of being left outside. The love and hate that Dostoyevsky felt towards the West all his life – I have felt this too, on many occasions. But if I have grasped an essential truth, if I have cause for optimism, it is because I have travelled with this great writer through his love-hate relationship with the West, to behold the other world he has built on the other side.

All writers who have devoted their lives to this task know this reality: whatever our original purpose, the world that we create after years and years of hopeful writing, will, in the end, move to other very different places. It will take us far away from the table at which we have worked with sadness or anger, take us to the other side of that sadness and anger, into another world. Could my father have not reached such a world himself? Like the land that slowly begins to take shape, slowly rising from the mist in all its colours like an island after a long sea journey, this other world enchants us. We are as beguiled as the western travellers who voyaged from the south to behold Istanbul rising from the mist. At the end of a journey begun in hope and curiosity, there lies before them a city of mosques and minarets, a medley of houses, streets, hills, bridges, and slopes, an entire world. Seeing it, we wish to enter into this world and lose ourselves inside it, just as we might a book. After sitting down at a table because we felt provincial, excluded, on the margins, angry, or deeply melancholic, we have found an entire world beyond these sentiments. What I feel now is the opposite of what I felt as a child and a young man: for me the centre of the world is Istanbul. This is not just because I have lived there all my life, but because, for the last 33 years, I have been narrating its streets, its bridges, its people, its dogs, its houses, its mosques, its fountains, its strange heroes, its shops, its famous characters, its dark spots, its days and its nights, making them part of me, embracing them all. A point arrived when this world I had made with my own hands, this world that existed only in my head, was more real to me than the city in which I actually lived. That was when all these people and streets, objects and buildings would seem to begin to talk amongst themselves, and begin to interact in ways I had not anticipated, as if they lived not just in my imagination or my books, but for themselves. This world that I had created like a man digging a well with a needle would then seem truer than all else.

My father might also have discovered this kind of happiness during the years he spent writing, I thought as I gazed at my father’s suitcase: I should not prejudge him. I was so grateful to him, after all: he’d never been a commanding, forbidding, overpowering, punishing, ordinary father, but a father who always left me free, always showed me the utmost respect. I had often thought that if I had, from time to time, been able to draw from my imagination, be it in freedom or childishness, it was because, unlike so many of my friends from childhood and youth, I had no fear of my father, and I had sometimes believed very deeply that I had been able to become a writer because my father had, in his youth, wished to be one, too. I had to read him with tolerance – seek to understand what he had written in those hotel rooms.

It was with these hopeful thoughts that I walked over to the suitcase, which was still sitting where my father had left it; using all my willpower, I read through a few manuscripts and notebooks. What had my father written about? I recall a few views from the windows of Parisian hotels, a few poems, paradoxes, analyses… As I write I feel like someone who has just been in a traffic accident and is struggling to remember how it happened, while at the same time dreading the prospect of remembering too much. When I was a child, and my father and mother were on the brink of a quarrel – when they fell into one of those deadly silences – my father would at once turn on the radio, to change the mood, and the music would help us forget it all faster.

Let me change the mood with a few sweet words that will, I hope, serve as well as that music. As you know, the question we writers are asked most often, the favourite question, is; why do you write? I write because I have an innate need to write! I write because I can’t do normal work like other people. I write because I want to read books like the ones I write. I write because I am angry at all of you, angry at everyone. I write because I love sitting in a room all day writing. I write because I can only partake in real life by changing it. I write because I want others, all of us, the whole world, to know what sort of life we lived, and continue to live, in Istanbul, in Turkey. I write because I love the smell of paper, pen, and ink. I write because I believe in literature, in the art of the novel, more than I believe in anything else. I write because it is a habit, a passion. I write because I am afraid of being forgotten. I write because I like the glory and interest that writing brings. I write to be alone. Perhaps I write because I hope to understand why I am so very, very angry at all of you, so very, very angry at everyone. I write because I like to be read. I write because once I have begun a novel, an essay, a page, I want to finish it. I write because everyone expects me to write. I write because I have a childish belief in the immortality of libraries, and in the way my books sit on the shelf. I write because it is exciting to turn all of life’s beauties and riches into words. I write not to tell a story, but to compose a story. I write because I wish to escape from the foreboding that there is a place I must go but – just as in a dream – I can’t quite get there. I write because I have never managed to be happy. I write to be happy.

A week after he came to my office and left me his suitcase, my father came to pay me another visit; as always, he brought me a bar of chocolate (he had forgotten I was 48 years old). As always, we chatted and laughed about life, politics and family gossip. A moment arrived when my father’s eyes went to the corner where he had left his suitcase and saw that I had moved it. We looked each other in the eye. There followed a pressing silence. I did not tell him that I had opened the suitcase and tried to read its contents; instead I looked away. But he understood. Just as I understood that he had understood. Just as he understood that I had understood that he had understood. But all this understanding only went so far as it can go in a few seconds. Because my father was a happy, easygoing man who had faith in himself: he smiled at me the way he always did. And as he left the house, he repeated all the lovely and encouraging things that he always said to me, like a father.

As always, I watched him leave, envying his happiness, his carefree and unflappable temperament. But I remember that on that day there was also a flash of joy inside me that made me ashamed. It was prompted by the thought that maybe I wasn’t as comfortable in life as he was, maybe I had not led as happy or footloose a life as he had, but that I had devoted it to writing – you’ve understood… I was ashamed to be thinking such things at my father’s expense. Of all people, my father, who had never been the source of my pain – who had left me free. All this should remind us that writing and literature are intimately linked to a lack at the centre of our lives, and to our feelings of happiness and guilt.

But my story has a symmetry that immediately reminded me of something else that day, and that brought me an even deeper sense of guilt. Twenty-three years before my father left me his suitcase, and four years after I had decided, aged 22, to become a novelist, and, abandoning all else, shut myself up in a room, I finished my first novel, Cevdet Bey and Sons; with trembling hands I had given my father a typescript of the still unpublished novel, so that he could read it and tell me what he thought. This was not simply because I had confidence in his taste and his intellect: his opinion was very important to me because he, unlike my mother, had not opposed my wish to become a writer. At that point, my father was not with us, but far away. I waited impatiently for his return. When he arrived two weeks later, I ran to open the door. My father said nothing, but he at once threw his arms around me in a way that told me he had liked it very much. For a while, we were plunged into the sort of awkward silence that so often accompanies moments of great emotion. Then, when we had calmed down and begun to talk, my father resorted to highly charged and exaggerated language to express his confidence in me or my first novel: he told me that one day I would win the prize that I am here to receive with such great happiness.

He said this not because he was trying to convince me of his good opinion, or to set this prize as a goal; he said it like a Turkish father, giving support to his son, encouraging him by saying, ‘One day you’ll become a pasha!’ For years, whenever he saw me, he would encourage me with the same words.

My father died in December 2002.

Today, as I stand before the Swedish Academy and the distinguished members who have awarded me this great prize – this great honour – and their distinguished guests, I dearly wish he could be amongst us.

Translation from Turkish by Maureen Freely

 

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Literature Held Hostage

Posted by eGZact on August 27, 2007

The Holy War Against Salman Rushdie Turns 10. By Gregory McNamee

FEBRUARY 8, 1999:  IN THE FALL of 1988, the Anglo-Indian writer Salman Rushdie published what was then his fourth novel, a fantastic, sprawling allegory of the lives of immigrant Muslims in England. Like Rushdie’s earlier novels, The Satanic Verses combined literary seriousness with whimsical slapstick to criticize life in the so-called First World. The book was issued to a handful of critical notices, seemingly condemned to the quiet fate that most books that aspire to be seen as literature enjoy today.
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