A brief English overview of the dizi Alev Alev which truly was very good and focused on empowering women. I still want to make a supercut at some point of all of Ömer and Ozan’s interactions.
Gibi: Comedy under Pressure
I just watched and finished season 1 of Gibi which seems to have been enough of a success for them to quickly put out a second season. It’s a Turkish dark comedy show that you can watch online on Exxen. I already wrote it’s a bit like Seinfeld but with a very dark undercurrent.
How dark? Let’s look at the next bit from an episode (S01E10 @ 16:30) where Yılmaz and İlkkan are accused of having caused the death of an old man. They are getting ready to host the deceased’s relatives at a restaurant and participate in the wake.
Did you hear anything from Ethem?
Man, look, they wrote something in fact. Hold on. Somehow we weren’t able to call the guy. (Sigh. Wails.)
His aunt has killed herself. Ethem’s. It was written this morning. I just saw it.
His older aunt.
I don’t know many other situational comedy shows that do something like this. It has no relation to the story and serves only to set the mood. Interspersing another death that’s just brushed off in an episode that’s already about death demonstrates how little a human life is worth. People die randomly and it’s received with a wail and a shrug.
They will most likely go to the funeral just like they did in a previous episode (S01E04) where Ersoy’s grandmother was eaten by an Erasmus cannibal.
Zooming out a bit, the real theme of this first season of Gibi has been pressure, pressure of all kinds: peer pressure, family obligations, social and societal pressure.
- Kokariç: Press ganging into opening a kebab shop and invest in all kinds of goods
- Wadding: Pressure from friends and the environment to conform to current fashion norms
- Nu Model: Pressure from the extended family not to pose nude at the art academy enforced by force of violence
- The Cannibal Coming with Erasmus: Pressure from friends to mourn and be visibly sad
- Wrong Mentor: Pressure by a spiritual guide to follow a very strict regimen
- Dark Force: Collective hysteria around bad things happening
- Second Way: Pressure of belonging
- Whitewash: Pressure by the house painter to go all the way
- Renewal of Break Up: Pressure generated by magician
- Blood Money: Pressure to make amends for somebody unrelated dying
- Bathroom: Pressure to bathe and spend time with a couple of seniors
- Discovery of the Horse: Proto-societal pressure between members of an outcast paleolithic group
Anybody who’s ever been to Turkey knows that the entire country is built on this kind of pressure, also known as genuine interest, shame, concern or emotional blackmail. It’s omnipresent and the only way to escape it is to exit.
Property dealings in Berlin
Back when I read this exposé in November it struck me as gripping but also as something that could become messy. Turns out that’s true since the piece now has the mark “Censored” and some choice parts of text have been blanked out. I did a quick search but can’t find any updates what might have happened. If I find time later, I’ll look in the Wayback Machine to see what pieces of text disappeared.
The kind of property deals that are described in the article are par for the course in any up and coming city. Recently there was a piece about resistance to the city giving away one of its largest buildings to a private art gallery: https://www.freitag.de/autoren/der-freitag/portraet-wut-motiviert-mich
The academic backroom dealings should also be considered to be normal especially in small subfields such as Turkey studies. Academics are playing funding games more than they research and the web of foundations that float around are ways to creatively bookkeep and move money around. None of this is really surprising.
A lovely interview about the magic bus and the hippie period in Istanbul revolving around the Lale Pudding Shop which is still in business.
A fair part of my childhood was spent in gecekondu buildings exactly as the ones depicted here.
Reality captured in photos by Istanbul cab driver Sevket Sahintas. There’s an equivalent series here in Berlin that is not being captured as far as I know.
Highlights for The Idiot
Were Germans supposed to be particularly ordered and machinelike? Was it possible that Germans really were ordered and machinelike?
There was no way to go through life, in Turkish or any other language, making only factual statements about direct observations. You were forced to use -miş, just by the human condition—just by existing in relation to other people.
I liked Spanish—I liked how the donkey had a place in the national literature
How would I get anywhere in life? How could anyone ever be interested in me?
But I couldn’t stop thinking about á and à—about Europe, where even the alphabet emitted exuberant sparks—about Ivan’s mother’s Mazda, and how you were always sad when you left Rome.
“You really like this boy,” she said, sounding so sad and affectionate that tears came to my eyes.
“I feel like a kid.” “Like a little girl, huh? It must be really terrible for you.” “I learned Turkish when I was three, so I don’t know enough words. I can’t talk about anything,” I said.
“Of course he will. Womanizers always call back. That’s their best quality.”
“Stuff like that can really bring out the sadist in you,” he said. “I’m standing there thinking of all the different ways I’ll rip out this guy’s guts.”
And still no waking moment went by that I didn’t think of him—he was in the background of everything I thought. My own perceptions were no longer enough to constitute the physical world for me. Every sound, every syllable that reached me, I wanted to filter through his consciousness. At a word from him I would have followed him anywhere, right off the so-called Prudential Center.
“In Turkey? You wouldn’t have a nervous breakdown. You’d give them a nervous breakdown.” I forgave him for a lot when he said that. I forgave him for almost everything.
A less beautiful girl wouldn’t have said that, I thought. Beautiful people lived in a different world, had different relations with people. From the beginning they were raised for love.
XiR – Angela Merkel
Turkish MC XiR has a new trap song out with the noteworthy title Angela Merkel. There is even somebody with a Merkel mask in the video.
The video has a quick and dirty German subtitle bundled with it which you can turn on and read.
In the spirit of international relations, I will translate to English the hook of the song (lyrics on Genius). The rest of the song is either not that interesting or I’m missing out on a lot of inside baseball. Either way, I won’t try it.
Karaköy’e sen gel
Yol aldı yengen
Karaköy’e sen gel
There is no Schengen
You come down to Karaköy
You’ll lose your senses
Your woman’s gone
You come down to Karaköy
I can’t make much more of it other than that the mythologization of Angela Merkel continues. I’m curious what the German foreign office thinks about that.
Turkey’s stolen elections
I have followed the Turkish elections on the night from Sunday to Monday which turned into a gripping account of prime minister Erdogan trying to steal the elections while most of the people were sleeping. Orchestrated blackouts had drawn out the count. The twitter block didn’t prevent activism from spreading but did reduce the reach of its effects. Those that knew and cared about it were at the counting locations trying to safeguard the ballots and the tallies.
People not abandoning votes till entered into online system. ~6a. MT @Partizan4eva 4 saattir bekliyoruz! #sandıktayım pic.twitter.com/baRd3q6dRK
— Zeynep Tufekci (@zeynep) March 31, 2014
The tally notes were shared to be able to corroborate them with entries into the online result system. Most of those results have been off, some by a small amount, some by a larger amount.
Turkey's Citizen journos have been documenting ballot box results. Important with all the swirling Qs. RT @140journos pic.twitter.com/kYu0XGewXI
— Zeynep Tufekci (@zeynep) March 31, 2014
Altogether it was a mess and from the cross section of tallies I’ve seen it’s hard to believe that the AKP would have fully swept Istanbul and Ankara. What follows now is a long process of chasing the issue into Turkey’s notoriously horrible judicial system. It is unclear whether that will have an effect other than reducing the trust people in Turkey have in institutions even further.
Yesterday I learned unexpectedly but viscerally that democracy is worth defending. It's not the best feeling but I'd still recommend it.
— Alper Çuğun (@alper) March 31, 2014
What that night did teach me after the lukewarm Dutch municipal elections is that democracy is an institution worth defending both when things are calm but especially when times are tough. I am finally allowed to participate in a vote in Berlin. The European Parliament elections may be lackluster but I’ll take whatever little democracy I’m given.
I’ll post back here about how that vote and its count goes.
Something else that is noteworthy is the dismal coverage the elections got in the Dutch mainstream media. For any kind of news event that you are interested in, following tweets either in the local language or by English speaking commentators on the ground provides a far better experience. What I saw on Dutch television and in Dutch newspapers was predictable, shallow, disconnected and actively shameful.