No.10 March 2001

Yearning, Hasret

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As part of a book project I have, all of my journals have to be inputted into the computer.  Some readers already know about that project because in my first column.I explained that the reason I chose the title “Istanbul?  Yes, Istanbul” is because I am working on a collection of short stories that will have the same title.  The stories are all written in the third person and the plan is to intersperse these with appropriate first person journal entries.  That’s why I have to input all of the journals, which cover a period of many years, going all the way back to 1981.  This New Year seemed the right time to begin the task of inputting and so I did.  While I didn’t keep my journals faithfully -- there’s no way, for example, they could possibly be classed with those of Anais Nin who is probably the best journal writer ever -- it is still taking a long time to finish.  In re-reading the entries I’ve discovered something I think is very important:  everything I’ve written is characterized by yearning.  That constant characteristic is revealing.  In spite of a wide variety of changing circumstances – mere details, on one level, and an obvious deepening and development of this person named Karen-Claire, accompanied by a deepening, developing awareness of what I’m yearning for – for Home and for Love – the yearning persists.  I started thinking about this and then realized that a lot of the Turkish halk music I listen to and the translations of Turkish poetry I read are have the same theme.  There again it’s all about the same yearning -- hasret in Turkish.  And then (this is the way my mind works) I started to think that since I wound up in this country (much to my surprise) and since I’ve just now realized that my yearning and the yearning I perceive in this music and the poetry that I love so much are the same there must be an important connection.  Now I don’t know what the connection is yet – I’ve only just begun writing here, and so I’m still thinking about what it is -- but I hope that by the time I get to the end of this column at least some insights will be forthcoming. 

A couple of distinctions are in order here.  This yearning I am referring to is not to be confused with superficial desires.  No.  In other words, we aren’t talking arabesque here.  This yearning has depth and meaning.  That’s why I’ve capitalized the ‘H’ and the ‘L.’ The Home I’m yearning for isn’t necessarily a new, luxuriously-furnished modern villa (nor, for that matter, is it necessarily an old, antique-filled yalý, although I have to admit a yalý would be lovely) and the Love in question is not to be confused with what youngish Brits call ‘shagging’ and North Americans of all ages call ‘f---ing.’  The villa/yalý can’t be Home necessarily and the f---ing can never be equated with Love, although it can certainly can happen inside a Love relationship. .   

Yearning for Home and Love means the desire for an experience of connectedness with the earth and with all living beings.  Literally.  For example, so that when you walk somewhere you won’t feel awkward or bumpy.  You’ll flow.  Your gestures won’t be mechanistic or discordant.  When you speak or write you’ll do so from out of the implicit and continual awareness that a word pronounced or written is tantamount to a new world being created.   When you touch someone else (literally or figuratively) you’ll do so from out of the conviction that the other person is, like yourself, a microcosm rather than a cardboard-like, one-dimensional prop in your own personal drama. Yearning for Home and Love means the desire to discard the mask, to be recognized, really, and appreciated, really, for who and what you are deep inside.          

While the Home I am speaking of here goes beyond space and time it must also have a location in space and time, so I am not only speaking metaphorically here. Home is the place where all of the activities above happen.  Home is also the place that invites them in to happen and then nurtures and supports their happening.  Home is the “safety place,” as I’ve heard it very aptly expressed by someone for whom English is a second language.    In a beautiful book called The Poetics of Space, Gaston Bachelard writes:  “if I were asked to name the chief benefit of the house, I should say:  the house shelters daydreaming, the house protects the dreamer, the house allows one to dream in peace.” Yes, that’s Home, all right.  That’s the “safety place.”    

Yearning for Home and for Love is intimately tied up with the humanism that “is an abiding tradition in Turkish culture.”  That’s why it is so evident in the halk music and the poetic tradition.  Admittedly, it’s true that this humanism is not much in evidence these days.  Rather than hearing talk about the innate excellence of the human being we hear talk of the fact of this one losing his temper in public, and that one trying to make off with huge amounts of money, and a third going to frantic lengths to cover up a personal association with Unsavory Undesirables.  Such conversation, together with interminable discussions having to do with the right time to exchange our own soft currency for hard currency or how to be oh so very clever with overnight repo accounts is pretty much all any of us are hearing now.  Perhaps I’m mad to write of these metaphysical matters during the “current crisis,” but it seems to me that the current crisis, just as all the thousands preceding it, will pass soon enough.  On one level, the crisis is merely a detail, like those personal details from my journal I mentioned above. 

I think I’m finally beginning to see some connections here.  What underlies details like these is what poet Adrienne Rich referred to as “the rock shelf furthering all that is.”  That “rock shelf” is the locus of the Home and Love that we yearn for.  Hasret is not about wanting to make sure you get 900,000 Turkish liras for one American dollar instead of 850,000.  Hasret is yearning for a lived connection with that rock shelf.  Hasret is yearning for Love, for Home.  “But this just isn’t realistic,” I can almost here you saying.  “All people care about is money.”  It’s true I’ve even written things along those lines here in this very column.  If I’m really honest however, I have to confess to you that, in spite of everything, I still have faith in the humanity of human beings.  I am convinced that there was a time out of time when things were different.  “That was a time of such great bliss:  There was neither grief nor sadness, My heart had no worry or care; The homeland of this soul was there.”  Yes, I’m convinced that there was such a time.  More importantly, I still have faith in the future of human beings.  And so I am convinced that such a time will come again – and that it will be a time in time.  I yearn for it.  So do you all.. 

 

No.1- April 2000 No.11 April 2001 No. 20 July 2002 No 29 April 2003
No.2 June 2000 No.12 May 2001 No. 22 September 2002 NO 30 MAY 2003
No.3 July/August 2000 No. 13 June 2001 No. 23   October 2002  NO 31 JUNE 2003
No.5 October 2000 No.14 July 2001 No 24 November 2002 NO 32 JULY 2003
No.7 December 2000 No.15 August 2001 No 25 DECEMBER  2002 NO 33 August 
No.8 January 2001
(No. 8 Ocak 2001 - Türkçe tercume
NO 16 September 2001 No 26 January 2003 No 34 September 
No.9 February 2001 No. 17 April 2002 No 27 February 2003 No 35 October 
No.10 March 2001 NO 19 JUNE 2002 No 28 March 2003 No 36 January 2004

No 37 February - March 2004 No 38 April 2004

 

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