Monday, May 31, 2010

Current Events

This may make it hard to get to my language class in the morning. To be quite honest I don't know what to think about this, but I certainly don't think hatred or further violence will accomplish anything. Needless to say I find the screams (and occasional gunshots) of the thousands of protesters in my neighborhood to be disconcerting.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Where Does the Time Go?

This week felt exceptionally busy... but it wasn't until I realized I neglected this blog for an entire week that I think it caught up with me. Journaling, running, reading, and apartment cleaning were also given woefully inadequate time, and I am feeling the affects. It's seems better time management or a simplified schedule is needed.

Today however was wonderfully spent showing my older brother Paul Istanbul (particularly Taksim, Örtaköy, Bebek, Levent). As a three year employee of Starbucks, he was particularly amazed by this location, which is easily the coolest conceivable consumer/corporate coffee shop.

Speaking of coffee, I would love to give this iced coffee brewing technique a try... and this GF Banana Bread recipe. Anyone interested in testing the results?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Week in Review

Awesome things that have happened this week:

Hung out with my brother Paul in Sultanahmet. Had probably the coolest meal I've ever had, which literally involved setting food on fire and breaking pots with hammers. I'll get to show him the rest of the city after he returns from traveling the Turkish countryside.

Passed my final exam for level 1 Turkish. Level two starts Tuesday!

Visited the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art with several friends. I especially liked an installation piece by Serkan Özkaya and after researching him discovered he has a particular connection with my beloved city of Louisville (Proof on Main has featured Özkaya's work and he hand-illustrated an actual Courier-Journal issue).

Encountered 40+ zombies in Taksim Square dancing to Michael Jackson's Thriller.

Intended to visit Boğazaçi Üniversitesi's Sport's Fest, but was thwarted by the weather. Thankfully, Iron Man 2 was an apt contingency plan. I thought it was a great sequel, just as charming and entertaining as the first with very little plot to get in the way of explosions and one-liners.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Worldview and Symbols

"All cultures (that is) have a sense of identity, of environment, of a problem with the way the world is, and a way forward - a redemptive eschatology, to be more precise- which will, or may, lead out of that problem... the stories that express the worldview, and the answers which it provides to the questions of identity, environment, evil and eschatology, are expressed (as we saw in the previous chapter) in cultural symbols. These can be both artifacts and events - festivals, family gatherings and the like. In modern North America the New York victory parade after a successful way war brings together two of the most powerful symbols of the culture: the towering skyscrapers of business-orientated Manhattan, and the heroes of battle. Both in their own fashion, demonstrate, promote and celebrate The American Way. In first-century Palestine, celebrating the Passover functioned similarly, with Jerusalem and the Temple taking the place of Manhattan, and the Passover sacrifice and meal taking the place of the victory parade. The buildings. instead of speaking of economic/ethnic goals, spoke of religious/ethnic ones; instead of the celebration speaking of triumph achieved over the forces of darkness, it spoke of vindication yet to come."
-N.T. Wright, The New Testament and the People of God, 123-4.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Bursaspor Şampiyon!

Bursaspor is the surprise champion of the Turkish Super Lig this year, becoming only the second team not from Istanbul to claim the title. Quite impressive for a team that only a few years ago was in danger of being relegated.

It's ironic, but I couldn't possibly be more excited about the championship going to a team outside of Istanbul for the first time in over twenty years. As much as I would have loved to see Beşiktaş repeat last year's championship, Bursaspor's victory prevented Fenerbahçe from winning their eighteenth Süper Lig title. Fenerbahçe = the Yankees of Turkish football and the Yankees = pure evil, so it was the lesser of two evils for Beşiktaş to lose 1-2 to Bursaspor.

Naturally, Fenerbaçe fans weren't particularly excited about this (especially considering venders were already selling yellow and blue şampiyon flags before the game) and actually set fire to their own stadium after their 1-1 draw with Trabzonspor. Thankfully the Police were on hand to restore order...
... or at least beat the crap out of hooligans.

It will certainly be interesting to see how Bursaspor fares in the Champion's League.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Myth of Post-Enlightenment Objectivity

"It is therefore a chasing after the wind to imagine that anyone, ancient or modern, could or can 'simply record the facts'... One learns to suspect people who claim to be the only unbiased voice on their subject; normally this simply means that their agenda is so large that, like a mountain which blots out the sky, they forget that it is there at all. There is no such thing as a point of view which is no-one's point of view. To imagine, therefore, as some post-Enlightenment thinkers have, that we in the modern world have discovered 'pure history', so that all we do is record 'how it actually happened', with no interpretative element or observer's point of view entering into the matter- and that this somehow elevates us to a position of great superiority over those poor benighted former folk who could only approximate to such an undertaking because they kept getting in their own light- such a view is an arrogant absurdity. "
-N.T. Wright, The New Testament and the People of God, 86. 1992.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

A Walk in The Park

Well the whole living-on-the-complete-opposite-side-of-the-world thing finally caught up with me and I've been sick now for an entire week. Granted, I'm not a doctor and I only got a B in biology, but Google seems to think I have bronchitis, which would explain the incessant and sometimes violent coughing.
Well thankfully it doesn't take a prescription to get drugs in this country, and considering today was the first time I felt better than the day before, I think these massive, grape-sized antibiotics are doing the trick.

As a general rule, I hate being sick. Although it's usually a great excuse to stay inside and read- which is usually my favorite pastime- I haven't been immersed in this culture nearly long enough to want to escape from it. Furthermore, today was obnoxiously beautiful, so I forced myself to take a stroll through the 'hood.
Thankfully, even the most urban of neighborhoods like mine has a park near by, and on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon, it's pretty much the place to be. Sitting on park benches might as well be a sport in Istanbul. Good luck finding an empty one.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Lost and Found in Translation

One thing I learned from my Greek professor is that words do not equal words in other languages. Words are part of phrases, which make up sentences, which belong to a larger context. Meaning is found at the level discourse, not as the sum of all its parts. For example, the Koine Greek word kai« is a conjunction that is usually translated "and", but in different contexts it denotes the idea expressed by the English words "now", "but", or "also". kai« is capable of doing all those things, "and" is not. The two simply overlap in their lexical range.

As my teacher Pınar is constantly reminding me, it not necessarily helpful to translate into English when learning Turkish. Here's what would happen if you did:

In Turkish,

I'm afraid from dogs.
I put the glass to the table.
I drink cigarettes (and soup).

But the goal isn't to learn how Turkish corresponds to English. The goal is to learn how Turkish corresponds to reality (or at least our perception of reality)... which of course is much easier said than done.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Kadıköy Dance Party

Kadıköy Dance Party from Michael Butterworth on Vimeo.

One of the many reasons I love Istanbul: you never know when you are going to stumble on a massive dance party by the Bosporus.