Pamuk weighs in on Erdogan

It feels as if Pamuk has been quieter about the state of Turkey for the past several years. My guess is that with his time in Istanbul, working with his museum/art installation project, he would risk being grabbed up and prosecuted if he spoke too loudly. Pamuk has some things to say about Erdogan now that I missed if he stated before.

Another thing:

I sense Pamuk sometimes tires of political questions. At heart he is an aesthete. “I am not by nature a political person,” he admitted. “I was criticised by the previous generation of more socially committed writers for being a bourgeois writing about bourgeois life.”

I wish he’d write more aesthetic novels. Of course he still is, but as the years pass, his books are more.. you know… bourgeois. I miss the the more obvious references to the Sufi tradition. His love for the shopkeepers, domestic romance, and such is not my cup of tea. That’s where he finds his beauty obviously. I love my home and family too but it’s not anything I need a reflection of in the books I read. Eh.

via 3 Quarks Daily.

Goytisolo: I wasn’t ready yet

A couple of weeks ago, i read Goytisolo’s The Garden of Secrets. It seemed like putting a little time after its completion would help pull it into focus.


It was a complete novel, and it included a few techniques that always manage to hook me. However, it felt like i was walking in on the end of a conversation. There was a nagging sense that this novel was a capstone to Goytisolo’s other work, but i don’t have a shred of evidence for that yet. Obviously, a few things about Eusebio were drawn from personal experience. Some of the voices of the authors used to write the chapters seemed like they were references to something else, either referencing his  own previous work or authors that i’m not familiar with.

I wound up being unsatisfied, as i wasn’t ready for the book. No matter how fun the varying styles of storytelling was, creating a mosaic of pieces that didn’t quite fit together (in a good way,) because of my ignorance, there was no hint of what some of the pieces really meant. Obviously i’m going to have to come back to this book in a few years, after reading some of Goytisolo’s earlier works.

It wasn’t a complete loss. Through the book, i kept getting the sense that some of the territory that Goytisolo was navigating was also navigated by Orhan Pamuk. There was a theme about twinned identity that clenched it, and i was desperately rattling my brain trying to connect the story of Eusebio to that of The White Castle. Wikipedia referenced a long NYT profile of Goytisolo, and it’s revealed that Pamuk’s a fan of Goytisolo:

“What was appealing to me when I first came across Juan Goytisolo’s books in the 1980’s,” the Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk told me recently, “was that here was an experimental European novelist who had renounced the flat realism of the 19th-century novel and who was paying attention to my part of the world with an extraordinary humility, searching in his life and prose to create a different style enriched by what he’s found in this culture.”

The Pamuk connection is real. Since The Garden of Secrets is a relatively recent book though (1997,) Pamuk wasn’t drawing from it. It would seem that Goytisolo has been playing with the same themes for a long time, and i started at the end, rather than the beginning.

Oddly, the book itself was a relatively easy read. It was just a surface reading unfortunately, with as many intertextual games as he seemed to be playing.

Court of Appeals reverses local court ruling on Pamuk case

The circus begins again. I don’t know why this is starting again. Here’s a clip from the story to explain:

Istanbul’s ?i?li Third Civil Court of First Instance dropped the case in a 2006 ruling on the grounds that there had been no violation of the individual rights of the plaintiffs in Pamuk’s remarks. The plaintiffs appealed the court decision.

After reviewing the local court’s ruling, the Court of Appeals nullified it on the grounds that there was no definition of individual rights in the Turkish legal system and that the scope of individual rights was not definite.

The civil suit is entirely separate from the charges levied against Pamuk under Article 301.


“It has been left to the judiciary to decide on what goes into the definition of individual rights. Both in legal doctrine and judicial rulings, it is acknowledged that individual rights include individuals’ physical, emotional and social values as well their profession, honor and dignity, freedom, health, race, religion and bonds of citizenship,” read the court ruling. The court noted that the plaintiffs had a legal right to file a complaint over Pamuk’s remarks because they were linked with citizenship bonds. The court asked for the review of the case in consideration of the fact that the plaintiffs had a legal right to file such a case.

It sounds like awful reasoning on the part of the Court of Appeals, regardless of my partiality to Pamuk. It opens the door for all kinds of specious claims. Some ultra-nationalist judge with a personal grudge against Pamuk is setting aside common sense just to attack him.

Betcha this ruling won’t stand.

I’m now in the process of trying to convince Bill to record for YouTube a video of himself shrieking hysterically, tears and snot dripping from his cheeks, howling, “Leave Orhan alone!”

More clueless preening from Claire Berlinski

The Globe & Mail is an embarrassment. Someone takes the time to respond to Berlinski’s attack piece on Pamuk, and they immediately allow Berlinski to tack on a bullshit explanation behind that.

Check this out:

A few trivial points before I go. I did not suggest that Pamuk’s literary honours were evidence of a malign political bias among those who awarded them. I suggested that they were evidence of political bias. Malignity has nothing to do with it. I share the biases in question; I too am opposed to the persecution of outspoken writers who live in Turkey, particularly since I am an outspoken writer who lives in Turkey. But the Nobel Prize in literature is supposed to be literary, not political.

Wow. Holy fucking shit… what a narcissist!

Has Berlinski ever received a serious death threat? How close was she to Hrant Dink? Has she been brought to trial under Article 301 like Elif Shafak?

No matter how many coffees she drinks in the cafes gossiping with her Turkish friends, she will remain a tourist and a dilettante.

Oh yeah, and the Nobel Prize for Literature has been political for a very, very long time. Does she really want to throw around the word naive while making assertions about the way it is supposed to be?

It’s childish when she protests against Garebian pointing out her misreading of Nabokov, writing, “As for Pamuk and Nabokov, the words I used were Pamuk’s, not mine.” The fool is begging for someone to smack her with the context from which she snatched Pamuk’s words to misrepresent, as well as the meaning of the book Lolita beyond the superficial reading of the plot. I already covered this last time. If she cannot grasp Pamuk’s point of Nabokov as a cruel writer, with Nabokov having a pedophile who “searches for timeless beauty with all the innocence of a small child,” then she is completely beyond hope in her obtuseness. She can call herself a writer all that she likes, but she is no reader, and thus has no right to be reviewing Other Colors.

Claire Berlinski: a walking cliche of an arrogant expatriate

Wingnut welfare princess Claire Berlinski gets her jollies calling Orhan Pamuk a “poseur” in the Globe & Mail. She is the daughter of Intelligent Design proponent David Berlinski, so one can see that she is a product of a very rigorous intellect indeed. She is also beloved by the likes of Little Green Footballs because she preaches the gospels of how Europe is too old and Islam is scary. She knows this because as a wingnut welfare princess, she maintains residences in Paris and Istanbul. She speaks from “experience,” and her self-implied service with the C.I.A from two seemingly by-the-number spy novels ( i haven’t read them. They might be servicable escapist pulp) bolster her limp, wealth-privileged credentials.

It seems that she must have her knickers in a twist because Pamuk said some things that the neo-cons must not have liked, although she never directly addresses that in this piece. She spends the whole article mocking Pamuk’s love of books and his hüzün,  while boasting because she’s lived a little while in Istanbul that she has a firmer grasp on what being Turkish is all about. She actually has the audacity to argue:

On Sept. 11, 2001, writers treating the themes of East contra West and Islam contra modernity hit the literary jackpot.

This is written by the woman who wrote Menace in Europe: Why the Continent’s Crisis Is America’s Crisis. She insists that he retire his themes revolving around the division of East and West, yet has tried to recast herself as an expert on the subject? The whole “review” of Pamuk’s Other Colors reeks of petty jealousy.

She accuses him of being part of Turkey’s haute bourgeoisie, something that Pamuk himself has written in his memoir Istanbul. Her criticism of the man is deeply superficial, flying into constructed fantasies that speak more of her own circle of acquaintances. It reads like Ann Coulter’s conversations with straw men.

One of the few direct attack on his writing is:

And did he mention that he really, really likes books? – although I do have to wonder, occasionally, just how carefully he is reading them; in his discussion of Nabokov, for example, he describes Humbert Humbert as a man who “searches for timeless beauty with all the innocence of a small child.” Beg pardon? Humbert searches for timeless beauty by molesting an innocent small child. There is quite a difference.

While the quote is indeed a direct quote from Pamuk’s essay, its context reveals that Berlinski is shameless liar or a babbling idiot. The essay was about Nabokov’s cruelty as a writer. If she cannot grasp why that interpretation of Humbert Humbert has resonancy in context of that essay, she need to shut the fuck up.

Globe & Mail, please do not commission any more pieces from this shallow, partisan hack.