27 Ocak 2007 Cumartesi

Scratches On The Face And The Terror of Pamuk

This article by Kaan Arslanoğlu is published in Cumhuriyet at 18.01.2007

Orhan Pamuk won the Nobel prize for his belief in freedom of thought and literature. Yet – ironically - the wave this award has triggered in the media has manifested itself as a very campaign against literature and free thought. Newspaper editors in chief, influential columnists and TV commentators, all by an overwhelming majority, expressed to us how pleased we should be and that we should not hesitate to embrace our Nobel Laureate. Moreover, people who had an aversion to Pamuk’s writings were accused of being simpletons, fascists, green with envy, or worst, in an odd campaign to discredit dissenters. In the end, many older established writers, once fiercely critical, ended up having to reluctantly endorse and celebrate the Pamuk phenomenon.

The extraordinary breakthrough of Orhan Pamuk, whom many in the literary establishment considered little more than an unexceptional writer, was indeed a triumph of marketing, advertising and above all good connections that deserve scrutinizing. After a barrage of international awards, the Nobel Prize was to be the cherry on top of the cream.

The first sentence of the self-help-book “NLP- The New Technology of Achievement” (1) published in the USA in 1994, reads: “This book will change your life”. Similarly the first sentence of Mr. Pamuk’s book “Yeni Hayat” (New Life) (2) published towards the end of the same year reads: “One day I’ve read a book and my life changed”. I do not suggest that Pamuk, who is apart from his skills in building up connections, a master of “uncredited referencing”, has been inspired by that book. Nevertheless, Mr. Pamuk’s success clearly has an American flair to it and it is not without pleasure to find similarities between his methods and the approach suggested in the book mentioned above and other flashy “how-to-succeed” books. Spielberg, who is one of the leading figures admired in the NLP book, has also touched success and fame through his sympathetic relationships with the Zionist movement; and this is just one of the resemblances. It’s no wonder that the frenzied admirers of the Nobel Laureate happen to be mostly domestic American sympathizers or americanist Europeans.

Among others, Cengiz Çandar, Hasan Cemal, Mehmet Barlas, Hadi Uluengin, the Altan family, Taha Akyol, M. Ali Birand, Murat Belge, etc. Still the most remarkable comment has been made by Serdar Turgut. After describing the detesters of Pamuk as a pack of barbarians and fascists, Turgut continues by saying that “the power that will boost Turkey are the brains of the ‘White Turks’ and the modern brand of nationalism they will nurture” (3). Yıldırım Türker’s article is even more hostile; it is a masterpiece of a manifesto pointedly directed at the middle-classes, that elegantly combines insults against those that dislike Pamuk’s works with rude gestures and foaming at the mouth.(4)


Yet the point I am trying to make is not to look into the differences between philosophically tangible achievements and brilliant but superficial achievements; it’s to ponder over the phenomenon in terms of freedom of thought. Many psychology books theorize on how to stop the vicious cycle of conflict breading conflict, born from ancient beliefs, prejudices and hostilities within groups, societies and nations. As indicated in the well-known work of Muzaffer Şerif, hostility between groups can be lessened by making the opponent groups collaborate in pointing them towards a mutual enemy. (5)

In my opinion, the mutual enemy is global capitalism that leads the world into biological extinction. However, since the proponents of globalism thoroughly know this, they provoke wars between nations, religions and local societies. The real enemy of the Turks, Kurds and Armenians is the provocation of the most primal emotions through demands of redrawing borders under the guise of “freedom”, “progress”, “redemption” and other popular slogans of the day. On one side Pamuk and the like, and on the other, forces promoting radicalism and fascism. It’s difficult to talk about the virtues of thought when primal instincts are reinforced.

Strangely enough, the media elite who celebrated Pamuk’s success in the name of literature and free speech and those tabloid TV and newspaper barons who seem intent on emptying the public’s minds are in effect one and the same. The same old usual suspects who can’t stand the proliferation of a single unchecked thought and who try to throw any controversial idea or any sparkle of wit into the waste bin just because they find it “marginal”. The local and international cartels of literature merchants for whom only a well marketed bestseller or a prize winner constitutes a “good novel”; and those whose very reason d’etre is nothing more than the outright regurgitation of the same policies that the EU commissioners once dictated to them.

The campaign that uses Pamuk as their poster boy has come to such a point that even admirers of the writer find themselves turned off by the ordeal. Suat Kınıkoğlu writes : “It is as if someone pushed a button and asked our media to facilitate the rehabilitation of Orhan Pamuk in the arena of Turkish public opinion. ”(6) Thus, even the basics become murky: who uses whom? Indeed, some are said to bolster their own success by riding the coattails of Pamuk; and in the process the writer’s persona and artistic individualism is all too happily sacrificed.


Turkish society and societies of the world are decaying; so inevitably is literature. If I was asked to identify the literary critics I trust and admire the most, I would name, on the top of a short list, Semih Gümüş and Ömer Türkeş. But the heavy handed, gung ho terrorization of free thought that has become the Pamuk campaign, has evolved into such an overwhelming force that even they surrendered and were reshaped in the image of the status quo.

The same Türkeş who once called Pamuk a “pop-star” and wrote about the damage Pamuk’s marketing aproach may inflict on literature (7); now says that “it’s time to celebrate”. Similarly, Gümüş had always expressed his irritation of the exaggeration of Pamuk’s talents as a novelist (8). Now he talks about the gains the Nobel prize can bring to Turkish literature. Even worse, he announces him to be a writer of “solitude” who is only concerned about writing the truth as he sees it. What an insult to genuine lonesome writers! To put it in other terms, two men who previously declared that the game is rigged, suddenly decide to stand up and applaud the winning team of the same game. In effect, the behavior of these two respected critics can be viewed as a suicide of integrity for the love of Pamuk or likelier yet, they are the latest victims of the terror campaign against thought.

The “free thinkers”, who hate freedom of expression, use the very notions and thoughts that were achieved through altruistic self sacrifice with blood and sweat, against those that made these sacrifices. Just like the notions of ethics and decency which the big media outlets have turned into hollow clichés, that the ordinary masses and even psychopaths can chew like bubblegum. Even The Guardian (9) and the Independent, two of the most discreet newspapers of England, read the reactions against Pamuk from Turkey, as an act of fringe nationalists When Pamuk sinisterly describes his country as “Turkey is a savage country; there is no understanding for other religious, ethnic, linguistic communities. A wild land where there has been no civilization, where there is no room for different religions, languages and nationalities”, (10) the pro-American and pro-European “liberal elite” in our midst become satisfied. However, the same ears turn deaf to the ideas and opinions of most of the ordinary readers, of socialists, communists and patriotic leftists, all in the name of “freedom of thought”.

The entire notion of nice and peaceful freedom of thought is a deceitful concept. The reality is a never ending dirty war between irreconcilable ideas. Yes, oppressive laws may inhibit thought; but well before that closed minds in key places prevent them in the form of a “free” media which control the agenda and the nature and flow of information to the masses. The oppression is further escalated by a constant injection of fear, panic and confusion. Those who attempted rape, cry out showing the scratches on their face and condemning their victim’s aggression.

(1) Steve Andreas, Charles Faulkner, NLP Comprehensive, 1994
(2) Orhan Pamuk, İletişim, 1994
(3) Serdar Turgut, Akşam, 25.10.2006
(4) Yıldırım Türker, Radikal, 16.10.2006
(5) Peter Scott, C. Spencer, Psychology, Blackwell, 1998
(6) Suat Kınıkoğlu, Turkish Daily News, 13.12.2006
(7) Ömer Türkeş, Milliyet İnternet, 8.1.2004
(8) Semih Gümüş, Puslu Ada, T. İş. Kült. Yay. 2002
(9) Ian Traynor, The Guardian, 13.11.2006
(10) Fernanda Eberstadt, The New York Times, 4.5.1997

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18 Ocak 2007 Perşembe

Have You Ever Look at Humanity From This Point of View?

A brief summary of main themes discussed in Kaan Arslanoğlu’s novels and theoretical books for nearly twenty years:
1- The evolutionary process of humankind is not finished yet. Humans lack intelligence, features of positive personality, willpower, and wisdom. Although the human mind could perform at a distinctly higher rate than animals, it is still lower than the desired level of cultural values and the ideals created by and for humans. This is why people have failed in the experiment of socialism. This is the actual reason lying behind the choice of unequal and unjust systems, and not being able to solve basic problems for thousands of years.
2- Today the most crucial problem of humanity is the world’s drawing closer to its biological death due to global pollution and climate changes. The fault lies, again, with humankind, and with capitalism, which people have not been able to do without. We could consider overpopulation, famine, obesity-metabolic diseases, epidemic diseases, wars, and all kinds of accidents as the other important problems of our generation. Unfortunately, humans mainly keep themselves busy with the secondary problems and put off the most serious problems until a future time.
3- Humanity suffers inequality in terms of biological background. There is a wide range of disparity among human beings with regards to the capacity of their intelligence and minds, as well as the qualities of their personality and character. The bell-shaped curves point out the similarities in different societies by indicating the frequency rate of different features of people. The majority of people accumulate in average levels in terms of positive and negative aspects while some extreme features are displayed by the minority. Humankind: They are in between destroying and revitalizing, nowadays it is evident that humans act as destroyers (See item: 2). Clever ones, who are in the minority, attain power and advantages, usually by misusing their intelligence against others. Those who use their intelligence in the service of their societies have always been exceptions in any country in the world. Therefore, high cultural values could never be internalized by massive crowds of people, and ideals could never be realized except for short periods of time.
4- Human beings can be grouped according to different personality types, each of which demonstrate such different aspects that they could be treated as sub-types (there are approximately twenty sub-types, including those who strive to improve their society; those who support the status quo; harmful psychopaths; selfish sociopaths; political fundamentalists, etc.). Since the first ages of written history, people from the same sub-types have displayed very similar attitudes and reactions towards daily life issues, politics, professions, philosophy, art, etc., regardless of the time frame they lived in. Conflicts between personalities are as important as conflicts between social classes.
5- A human being’s character is her/him destiny. Preferences in different areas are defined by a person’s personality, and the personality is mainly determined by genetic structure. Educational background and environment might also be considered as the other important elements; nevertheless, these would remain only as secondary determiners. Therefore, the primary and the subsidiary choices one makes are not determined by the environment, but mainly by personality. Here, it is important to note that people with average/ordinary features are usually more affected by environmental conditions around them. This can also be interpreted as meaning that conditions imposed by the environment have more impact on masses than on those people with extraordinary/extreme personality features.
6- It is a fact that the humans are biologically limited living beings. This fact should be treated as a guideline in all areas of life, especially in terms of the following three points:
First of all, this fundamental fact, like all other facts, is accepted as a truth. We cannot disregard an important truth for the reason that it affects our feelings negatively, it does not comply with our judgment patterns, or simply because it does not work for us. Acting this way would eventually weaken our knowledge and reliance, make us insincere, and narrow down our scope.
Secondly, disregarding such a fact would eventually bring the same inevitable results for refusing any other facts, and that would be, having to accept the truth one day in the most painful way.
It is true that the new paradigm discussed here may cause some despair at first, especially considering that hope is one of the most necessary resources that provides individuals, groups and societies with the vital energy and the determination to struggle. In that case, it should be an unavoidable mission to let go of our self-deceiving false hopes and to create new and realistic ones.
It is clearly observed in real life situations that the opportunities provided for individuals or groups to improve environmental conditions, willpower, education, organization, and reform-revolution are restricted by human biological limits. The cautions from the scientific world highlight the complexity of this issue by referring to the lack of physiological resources.
Finally, scientific theory does not undermine any of the endeavors undertaken in order to improve humanity. On the contrary, it emphasizes the necessity to pay more attention to these efforts. If the possibilities to change are limited, and the bad is naturally preponderant over the good, it should not mean that we need to ignore what is needed (Despite their influential discourse, the overwhelming majority charged with unrealistic hopes will eventually arrive at that inevitable point). This theory urges the importance of being more patient, more reasonable, thriftier, and having more self-control. This is not what is being done by most of left-leaning opposition parties that try to become a catalyst for change with their patchy, irregular and superficial activities which do not interfere with capitalism as a whole in politics, philosophy, the arts, business, and in the other aspects of daily life.
However, the ultimate goal should not be reaching the end of the road, especially when there is no end. The victory of the good depends on resisting and standing, and is doomed to temporary dominance only. The ultimate goal is to proceed continuously in this endless race within which hope will find the opportunity to arise.
7- Nevertheless, a more fundamental and genuine salvation for humanity shall be possible by means of a genetic restructuring, either by natural or artificial ways. Any positive efforts in this field, whether minor or major, shall serve the salvation of humanity. 26.12.2006
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İnsanlığa Bu Açıdan Hiç Baktınız mı?

Kaan Arslanoğlu’nun yaklaşık yirmi yıldır romanlarında ve kuramsal kitaplarında işlediği ana tezlerin özetidir:


1- İnsan evrimini tamamlayamamış, gelişmemiş bir canlıdır. Zeka, olumlu kişilik özellikleri, irade gücü, akıl yönünden fakirdir. Aklı hayvanlarınkinden belirgin ölçüde yüksek düzeyde, ama yine kendi yarattığı kültür değerlerine, ideallere göre çok aşağı düzeydedir. İnsanlık sosyalizm deneyini de bu yüzden becerememiştir. Eşitsiz, adaletsiz sistemleri yeğlemesinin, binlerce yıldır temel problemlerini çözememesinin asıl nedeni budur.

2- Şu anda insanlığın en büyük problemi küresel kirlenme ve iklim değişiklikleri nedeniyle Dünyanın biyolojik ölüm sürecine girişidir. Suçlusu yine kendisi, vazgeçemediği kapitalizmdir. Nüfus sorunu, açlık, şişmanlık, salgın hastalıklar, savaşlar, kazalar soyumuzun öteki ağır sorunlarıdır. Ne ki insanlık bu en ciddi sorunları gündeminin en arka sıralarına atmakta, ikincil problemlerle fazlasıyla ilgilenmektedir.

3- İnsan biyolojik anlamda da eşitsizlik mağduru bir canlıdır. Akıl-zeka, kişilik-karakter yönünden ciddi farklılıklar içindedir. Pek çok özelliği toplumlarda çan eğrisi biçiminde dağılım gösterir. Olumlulukta ve olumsuzlukta büyük yığınlar ortalama düzeydedir, küçük azınlıklar ise uç özellikler taşır. Bu yüzden de insanlık ne öldürür ne güldürür. (Ancak artık öldürmektedir. Bkz: Madde 2) Küçük orandaki parlak zekalılar bunu genellikle olumsuz yönde kullanır, ötekilerin aleyhine güç ve kazanç elde ederler. Hem zeki olup hem zekalarını daha çok toplum yararına kullananlar her dönem her ülkede istisnayı oluşturan insanlardır. Bu yüzden yüksek kültür değerleri hiçbir zaman geniş yığınlarca benimsenemez. İdealler kısa dönemler dışında hiçbir zaman hayata geçirilemez.

4- İnsan değişik kişilik gruplarına ayrılır. Bunlar neredeyse birer alt tür gibi çok farklı özellikler gösterir. (Toplumu hep iyiye doğru geliştirmek isteyenler, statükocular, kötücül psikopatlar, çıkarcı sosyopatlar, siyasi köktendinciler v.s gibi yirmiye yakın alt tür...) Günlük yaşamdaki, siyasetteki, meslekteki, felsefedeki, sanattaki vs. anlayışları, tepkileri yazılı tarihin ilk dönemlerinden beri birbirine pek fazla benzer. Kişilikler arasındaki çatışma sınıflar arasındaki çatışma kadar önemlidir.

5- Karakteri insanın kaderidir. İnsanın her alandaki yeğlemelerini kişiliği belirler. Kişiliğini belirleyen de esas olarak genetik yapısıdır. Yetişme koşulları, çevre etkenleri de ciddiyetle ele alınmalıdır, ne var ki bunlar ikincil belirleyenlerdir. Dolayısıyla kişinin seçtiği-kapıldığı ana ve tali yollar çevresinden çok kişiliğinin götürdüğü yollardır. Önemli bir kural olarak, ortalama-sıradan kişilik özellikleri çevre koşullarından daha çok etkilenir (geniş yığınlar çevre koşullarından daha çok etkilenir de diyebiliriz), sıradışı-uç kişilik özellikleri çevreden daha az etkilenir.

6- İnsanın biyolojik sınırlarını kabul etmek ve tüm yaşamda bu bilgiyi rehber kılmak üç bakımdan mutlak gereklidir:
Bir, bu bilgi öteki birçok temel bilgi gibi gerçeğin bilgisidir. Herhangi bir önemli gerçeği, duygularımızı olumsuz etkiliyor, işimize gelmiyor, inandıklarımıza kalıp yargılarımıza ters düşüyor diye reddetmek öbür alanlardaki bilgimizi ve inançlarımızı da samimiyetsiz ve zayıf kılar, ufkumuzu daraltır.
İki, bu gerçeği kabul etmemek tüm öteki gerçeklikleri reddetmenin kaçınılmaz sonuçlarına benzer şekilde insanı bir gün bir yerde duvara toslatır ya da her gün burnunu yere sürter.
Evet, buradaki yeni paradigma insanın umudunu başlangıçta biraz kırar. Umutsa hem bireyler hem gruplar ve toplumlar için ekmek kadar, su kadar gerekli bir yaşam enerjisi ve mücadele azmi kaynağıdır. O halde kendini kandırma temelinde sahte umutları bırakıp yeni ve gerçekçi umutlar yaratmak kaçınılmaz görevdir.
Tüm insani biyolojik sınırlar kişisel ya da yığınsal anlamda çevre düzenlemelerinin, iradi çabanın, eğitimin, örgütlenmenin, değiştirme uğraşlarının olanaklarını -gerçek yaşamda zaten keskin biçimde görüldüğü gibi- daraltır. O konudaki bilimsel uyarılar işin zorluğunu maddi kaynağına işaret ederek gösterir.
Ve üç. Ama söz konusu bilimsel kuram tüm bu çabaların önemsiz olduğunu göstermez, aksine daha çok önemsememiz gerektiğini vurgular. Değiştirme olanaklarımız kısıtlıysa, kötü doğal olarak iyiye baskınsa, buradan çıkaracağımız sonuç işi tümden boşlamak değildir. (Geçersiz umutlarla yüklülerin ezici çoğunluğu parlak söylemlerinin aksine zaten eninde sonunda o çaresiz noktaya varırlar.) Tersine daha sabırlı, daha akılcı, daha ekonomik, daha iradi çalışmanın gerekliliğinin üstünde ısrarla durur. Şimdinin bölük pörçük, bir o zaman bir bu zaman, yalaş bulaş etkinlikleriyle değiştiriciliğe çabalayan, ancak günlük yaşamda, iş yaşamında, siyasette, felsefede, sanatta, bir bütün olarak kapitalizmle hesaplaşmayan sol muhalefetin büyük çoğunluğunun yaptığı bu değildir.
Yine de tek amaç yolun sonuna varmak olmamalıdır; çünkü yolun sonu yoktur. İyinin zaferi, direnmek, ayakta kalmak ve geçici baskınlıklarla sınırlıdır. Amaç bu yolda yürümektir, umut bu bitimsiz bayrak yarışının içinden yeşertilmelidir.

7- Ancak insanlığın daha temelden, daha gerçek kurtuluşu genetik değişimiyle mümkün olacaktır. Doğal ya da yapay yollarla. Şu veya bu alanda büyük ya da küçük her olumlu çaba az veya çok bu kurtuluşa hizmet edecektir. 26.12.2006

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