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The Beauty of Landscape Resides in Its Melancholy Author(s): Orhan Pamuk Reviewed work(s): Source: World Literature Today, Vol. 80, No. 6 (Nov. - Dec., 2006), pp. 42-43 Published by: Board of Regents of the University of Oklahoma Stable URL: . Accessed: 18/04/2012 04:43
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Thebeauty landscape resides of

of is contagious amongthecitizens Istanbul thecity's urban which tomindtheillustriitself, landscape brings ous days thatare now lostto thecity. The urbanlandof scapeand thememory thelostcivilization imprinted on thecity'sruinsbecometheillustration themelof ancholic Thatis whythishu'zun mood of individuals. in theBosphorus ruined inscribed and deeply buildings ofIstanbul a collective unifies its is one melancholy, that In residents. Pamuk'sown words,'To feelthishuziln and is to be able to see themoments places in which mix this and thecontext arouses that thisfeeling feeling an What Istanbul illustrates is, together." vividly indeed, endlessand inspiring oftheseplacesand moments list wherethe melancholic and melancholic object subject arewoventogether. Fromthebringing of together thesetwomeanings a ofmelancholy, evena third emerges, tacit one perhaps onethat needstobe excavated the"analyst" one, by perbut Pamuk's couldsingle-handedly define haps, onethat but of not depiction theTurkish psyche, onlyin Istanbul in in his oeuvreas a whole.Pamukoften depicts living in of as of Turkey terms the"feeling being peripheral," a a that between "dignified feeling swings pride"and an complex." "inferiority Thisperspective indeed,also be defined a as can, thatarisesas a consequence theasymof melancholy metric the of relations operating during moment modernization Westernization Turkey. and of of Ideologies Eurocentrism to the of imported Turkey during process modernization causedtheidea ofthe"Western" (which itself to variesand shouldnotbe standardized) be perceivedas the "ideal" normforhumanity, cultural its as "universal" productions theinescapable expression. In Freudian thelostobject theory, causingmelancholy does neednotbe a person a thing itmayalso be an or ideal.Thefeeling unworthiness being of and peripheral, the pendulumswingsbetweenpride and inferiority, and thefluctuations between love and hatetoward the lost objectare nothing but the melancholic subject's distance from ideal.Whathappenswhen the perceived in as the ideal is sociallyconstructed "unreachable" whathappens thedominant cultural politics? Namely, the when the ideal is constructed through hierarchy the setbetween "West"and the"East"?How does this Western" whoseideal of reflect thepsyche the"nonon to is perceived be something to belonging the"West" in from "West" thefirst the whilesheis excluded place? of Whatexactly this"feeling being is peripheral"? exacerbated the distancebetween Eurocentrism and the Istanbulite his ideal. As EdwardSaid put it, that of Orientalism a form paranoia" is "psychologically, boundaries of dreadstheinvasion "our"("Western") by travels outside WhenOrientalism "them" ("Orientals").9 of I that of the"West," suggest theparanoia thesubject of the of constructs melancholy theobject Orientalism abouta colAs Orientalism. long as we are speaking is the lective melancholy, cause of thismelancholy no theloss of something previously possessedbut longer exclusion orthelack an ideal. from of rather As longas thehistorical processofmodernization as ideal is defined a "Western" - namely, a process as whose torchis carried the "West" thisinscribed by lost ideal becomesan unattainable ideal forthesubject in as who is categorized the "non-Western" the first as In a worldwherethe"West"is perceived the place. and the"East"as itsinferior maker universal of history from definithis the who are excluded follower, others a live tionof "universality" through lossor lackof a of natural Thisis thenatural right beingpartof right.

making history.10 of Whatis thecontinuing relevance themelancholy in is Istanbul a lively Pamukdepicts Istanbul? Today, Entertainandmodern that serves a global as capital. city construction business ment malls, sites, scenes, shopping fiveand with districts high-tech skyscrapers, luxurious in to starhotelsadornthecity, addition thecommon and theBoshistorical of peninsula symbols Istanbul's today phorus. Manyvisual and verbalrepresentations and colorful Istanbul a complex as globalcity portray witha cosmopolitan roots, corrupt population, hybrid


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and ruthless and somewhat self-confident businesses, and experienced a is Istanbul no longer blackpeople. but and-white as it appearedto Pamukas a child, city, a multicolored developingand boomingmetropolis, and flashy, and nerve-rackexpanding, generic hybrid andenthusiastic, and ing, speedy spontaneous dynamic. The accomplishment Pamuk'sIstanbul, contrast, in of in resides itsability speaktothereaders to whocan still and lookthrough booming this globalcity see itsmelanin thebackground. globalcity globalonly The is choly whenone failsto see itshiddenlingering melancholy. Ever sinceAristotle with"brilassociated melancholy liance"and "thoughtful has this being," meaning rarely been lacking from connotations the term, of although it usuallyremained thebackground." in is Melancholy characterized a sadnessthat, as has nevertheless, charm, a desirable tune. Thisappealing sorrow alsotheretreat is of theindividual from who wantsto be disassociated the dominant where "thereis no processof history, a document civilization of is which notat thesametime document barbarism."2 Pamuk, characterizes of For this in theremaining influence themodern Sufi wordhiizun as well: "Imbuedstillwiththehonoraccorded it in to Sufiliterature, hiizun theresignation [Istanbul's of gives an but residents] air of dignity, it also explainstheir choice embrace and to indecision, defeat, poverty failure, so philosophically with and suchpride."
1 OrhanPamuk,Istanbul: Hatiralar ve Columbia University ehir(Istanbul:Yapi KrediYayinlan, Memories the and City, 2003);Eng.Istanbul: tr.MaureenFreely(New York:Knopf, 2006).Throughout I in thetext, followed MaureenFreely's translation, except a fewcases wherethetranslation transformed was based on theargument. 2 Aristotle, "ProblemsConnected with Thought,IntelliII, gence,and Wisdom,"in Problems tr.W. S. Hett(CamMass.: HarvardUniversity Press,1957),book 30. bridge, 3 When the Persian philosopherand scientistIbn Slna he the the (Avicenna)entered serviceofthecourt, treated In princeofRayyformelancholia. TheCanonofMedicine, Ibn Slna used similardefinitions the signs of melanfor

- Orhan Pamuk

fearwithoutcause, quick choly such as bad judgment, He and anxiety. also improved in anger,delight solitude, between of theAristotelian specifications therelationship and disorderin the black bile. See al-Kindi, melancholy tr. or Medical Levey (MadiFormulary, Aqrabadhin, Martin of son: University WisconsinPress,1966);and Ibn Slna, tr. Treatise theCanonofMedicine, O. CameronGruner on of (London: Luzac, 1930). The English translation the section on melancholyappeared as "On the Signs of Melancholy's Appearance"(77-78). 4MarcilloFicino,Three tr. Books Life, Carol Kaske & John of Center Medievaland of Clark(1482;reprint, Binghamton: Renaissance Studies,1991). 5Robert ,3 Burton, Anatomy Melancholy vols.,ed. Thomas of Nicolas K. Kiessling,and Rhonda L. Blair C. Faulkner, Oxford: Clarendon Press,1989),1:170. (1621;reprint, 6Abdiilhak 1 II," inasi [Hisar],"Madalyonlar Varhk, June 1934,344-457Abdiilhak inasi [Hisar],"YikilanYah," 245. 8Abdiilhak (1943;reprint, inasi [Hisar], Mehtaplan Bogazigi Istanbul: Baglam,1997). 9Edward Said, Orientalism (New York:Vintage, 1978),72. 10For more on this in topic,see Esra Akcan,"Modernity Translation: CenturyGerman-Turkish Early Twentieth and Culture," Exchangesin Land Settlement Residential Ph.D. diss.,ColumbiaUniversity, 2005. 11Aristotle, "ProblemsConnectedwith Thought,Intelliand Wisdom." gence, 12 of "Theseson thePhilosophy History," Walter Benjamin, tr. in Illuminations, HannahArendt, HarryZohn (New ed. York:Schocken, 1968),256. Esra Akcan livesin New York,whereshe worksas a postand at doctoralcore lecturer ColumbiaUniversity teaches seminarsat the New School's Parsons School graduate and graduate of Design. She receivedher undergraduate Univerin architecture Middle East Technical from degrees and doctoral of degreesfrom sityand master's philosophy of The recipient numerousawards Columbia University. in Akcanhas publishedarticles booksand and fellowships, Archithe variousjournals, of including Journal Architecture, Review Architectural tectural Theory Design (GreatBritain), NewYork-Istanbul, Bilim, Mimarlik, (Australia), Toplum g/11, and Studios(Turkey). She guest edited a special issue on globalizationfor Domus m in 2001 and has published a Twelve Scenarios a Istanbul: work,(Land)Fill for book-length Global City.

2006 | 43 November-December