Monday, January 23, 2006

Orhan Pamuk

Orhan Pamuk is a Turkish writer and winner of awards. I first came across his work when I read about his 2001 novel, My Name is Red, after which I bought it and began reading it. I never finished it then, but I’ve started it up again.

Interestingly, and as these things sometimes go, Mr. Pamuk is in the news these days for telling the truth about how the Turks massacred Kurds and Armenians. It looked as though he would be drawn up in Turkish court for defaming "Turkishness," but in light of Turkey’s desire to be accepted as a member of the European Union and its sweeping changes toward a more tolerant society, the case was dropped today.

This post is about something Mr. Pamuk wrote, something I read this morning in My Name is Red. It’s in a chapter where a tree is speaking (!). It says,

“I don’t want to be a tree, I want to be its meaning” (p. 51).

As much as I get pleasure from this world -- nature, people, food, beauty-- I also want to find the meaning behind the surface.

I read in Rumi (another writer born in Turkey -- back in the 13th century) this morning:

"There is a happiness and a sadness

that are just figures on a bathhouse wall. Move through the
world naked, noticing the pictures

that live. Inner joy and grief are different from artful
appearance. Take off your

phenomena-clothes when you enter the soul’s steam bath: no
one comes in here with clothes on. "

(Rumi quote from Coleman Barks' translation of "Beggars" in a book of Rumi poems titled The Soul of Rumi)


lesleyanne said...

i noticed that book when i was searching for something to read over winter break. i read a few lines of the first chapter and thought it was interesting.
i guess i didn't realize he was turkish! that makes sense now.

reading this entry is a breath of fresh air compared to some that my other friends write. to be open with no sort of religion or tribe [[as in your synchrony poem at the top]]. i like that. i've felt much more complete now that i ever have.


Ruth said...

Thank you, Lesley. It makes me SO happy that you have found the freedom and completeness you have.

Pamuk's book is not an easy read. I'm still just in the 50s pages, and I find I only want to read a short chapter at one sitting. But it keeps me going. The fact that he's Turkish, and he writes about 15th c. Turkey is part of why I want to read it.