nooo waaayy(or orientalism part II). -by maria t.

“The city was still sleepy.  Gradually people had begun to appear.  First. long lines of workers emerged from the bus station, heading to their jobs.  Then various sellers appeared, mostly old men peddling seeds, and children with plastic baskets.  I had never been so fascinated by people.  There was nothing extraordinary about them at all.  That was the most extraordinary thing.  That people in Turkey looked like…well, like people.  There were people in Turkey, not just men, or warriors, all kinds of people.  Sitting there I felt numbed by the force of that discovery.  It was not the  first  time I had seen Turks.  I had Turkish friends back at the university.  But somehow they did not seem quite real.  They did not seem like Turks, or Turk enough perhaps.  Somehow, I had regarded them as exceptions.”

-Yiannis Papadakis, Echoes from a Dead Zone, Chapter 1 Constantinople June-August 1990, p9.

13 Comments

Filed under Could it be art?, Could it be nothing at all?, Could it be politics?, Could it be tradition?

13 responses to “nooo waaayy(or orientalism part II). -by maria t.

  1. marilena

    It begins with Istanbul.

  2. word choices re marilena!

    pass?ti epathes?

  3. The Passenger

    It’s this thing that calling Istanbul Constantinople is considered politically incorrect. Never could understand the fuss people make about it.

    Enen?

  4. marilena

    Istanbul/Constantinople.
    Politically incorrect for what, international relations? The Greek and Cypriot media use the second name, as far as I know. So do a lot of people, so does public education. If you imply that Constantinople and Istanbul are simply names, I disagree; they have a whole range of meanings attached to them to be just a fuss.

  5. To the point, my interest on the subject is when Greek-speaking people use the word Istanbul to refer to the city when they are talking among themselves, not when they are addressing an international audience.

    Yes, they are simply names. If the city flourised under Turks instead of Greeks and if the Greeks conquered it in 1453 instead of Turks the entire world would now call it Constantinople and only Turks would call it Istanbul. Greek people call it Constantinople because that’s how they called it since the first millenium and they have no reason to change it because everyone in Greek culture knows that when someone uses the city’s original name they are actually referring to modern day Istanbul.

    More than anything it’s a matter of convenience – if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

    Pointing out that one should not call it like this is like pointing out that Γαλλία should be called Φραγκία because that’s how the French themselves call it. I think it’s meaningless to be honest.

  6. By the way, Maria, a friend of mine told me more or less the same thing about the Turks when he recently visited the country.

    I find it odd to be honest, this surreal portrait that so many people have about the Turks.I mean don’t they watch TV for God’s sake or watch the news? the country goes to Eurovision for God’s sake! Do they expect to be time-wrapped in the Middle Ages as soon as they set food in Turkey?

    It’s like they abandon common sense in favour of primal feelings

    People! PEOPLE! GGGRRRRR!

    (They just gave me my shot, I should be subdued for the rest of the day now)

  7. time-warped! WARPED!

    Although it would be interesting to see how exactly you can wrap yourself with time. Is it like a gift-wrap with a blooming knot at the top? Or like a Naan bread around a Kebab and salad?

    So many possibilities….

  8. marilena

    Well you make it look as if the Turks arrived someday in 1453, took over and that’s it. Everyone’s happy but kyeep the name for the sake of convenience. Good ol’ Greeks, as if! I’m bothered by the name because I’ve seen the way it’s used and mythologised.
    556 years since the fall of the Bzantium empire and still going? What type of convenience is this that it’s seen on sports teams’ symbols, nationalist rhetorics and easter prayers?

    And France doesn’t have a long history of antagonisms/wars/hatred between itself and Greece as Turkey does.

  9. you reminded me of

    Istanbul was Constantinople
    Now it’s Istanbul, not Constantinople
    Been a long time gone, Constantinople
    Now it’s Turkish delight on a moonlit night
    Every gal in Constantinople
    Lives in Istanbul, not Constantinople
    So if you’ve a date in Constantinople
    She’ll be waiting in Istanbul
    Even old New York was once New Amsterdam
    Why they changed it I can’t say
    People just liked it better that way
    So take me back to Constantinople
    No, you can’t go back to Constantinople
    Been a long time gone, Constantinople
    Why did Constantinople get the works?
    That’s nobody’s business but the Turks
    Istanbul (Istanbul)
    Istanbul (Istanbul)
    Even old New York was once New Amsterdam
    Why they changed it I can’t say
    People just liked it better that way
    Istanbul was Constantinople
    Now it’s Istanbul, not Constantinople
    Been a long time gone, Constantinople
    Why did Constantinople get the works?
    That’s nobody’s business but the Turks
    So take me back to Constantinople
    No, you can’t go back to Constantinople
    Been a long time gone, Constantinople
    Why did Constantinople get the works?
    That’s nobody’s business but the Turks
    Istanbul

  10. marilena i’m with ya…

    pass, i know as a fact that there are still people around me who have that “surreal portrait” of turks, even now days.(and i’m delighted to admit that the eurovision epixirima is one i use myself in times of need:P)
    the passage though was written in the 90’s. i guess that 20 years ago things were quite different, not only the political situation itself, but more importantly the way that the turks were portrayed by the greek media.

  11. Can’t see how what you are saying is contradicting what I am saying Marilena. Precisely because France doesn’t have a long history of antagonism with Greece it shouldn’t be still called “The Land of the Gauls” by Greeks. But it is. And no one is bothered by it.

    There is also the cultural link. Istanbul is of course derived from the Greek “Εις την πόλη”. So you have a name that it’s phonetically Greek but is actually not a proper name grammatically. So since there is a proper name for the city in our own language why should anyone use someone else’s word for it? Do you use the english word for eagle? Do you use the french word for water? No, because our language has the equivalent. We use english words for technical matters precisely because our language did not have equivalent words and we had to invent the words after the inventions.

    The entire word calls Ελλάδα as Greece (from a Greek tribe that migated to Italy). The Turks call it Yunanistan (mutated form of Ionian, the first Greek tribe that the Eastern world had contact with).

    Does it bother me that no one apart from Greek-speaking peoples uses the “proper” name for the country or its people? Of course not. That’s how it is in their literature for centures, that’s what they know. I believe that anyone has the liberty and right to use whatever word he chooses for a country as long as he does not try to impose his view over the others. And that’s why what you wrote bothered me, because to me it looked like an attempt to “remind” us of what version of the name we *should* be using. It is not me trying to persuade you or anyone else not to use Istanbul. Merely stating that someone that uses the former name is no less correct in doing so.

    Still, if you insist on the moral angle, I’d say that
    considering the fact that the Turks were too damn lazy to invent words of their own for the cities they conquered and just mutated their Greek names I believe that our usage of the original “natural” unaltered forms should not be considered offensive to them or anyone else. That it is to them is probably a symptom of what I like to call “conqueror’s insecurity” – the fear that the former owners of the land are forever planning and scheming to take it back.

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