Daily mythology: Silkworm


“According to an ancient Chinese legend, one day in the year 2640B.C. , Princess Si Ling-chi was sitting under a mulberry tree when a silkworm cocoon fell into her teacup. When she tried to remove it, she noticed that the cocoon had begun to unravel in the hot liquid. She handed the loose end to her maidservant and told her to walk. The servant went out of the princess’s chamber, and into the palace courtyard, and through the palace gates, and out of the Forbidden City, and into the countryside a half mile away before the cocoon ran out. (In the West, this legend would slowly mutate over three millennia, until it became the story of a physicist and an apple. Either way, the meanings are the same: great discoveries, whether of silk or of gravity, are always windfalls. They happen to people loafing under trees.)” (Jeffrey Eugenides, Middlesex)

Daily mythology: “As near as my feet”



There’s one secret in technique (not to mention the 999 others here): the wheel. It cannot be explained by the activities of our feet, it is from fundamental different genesis. Maybe from snowball rolling down the hill, the fireball, the rolling stone? The sun maybe (I just came under god Apollo’s influence….)

What’s about our feet? What do we know about them? They are so far away from our intellect, and often too far to tighten the shoelaces

First of all they always know where to go. They are writing our biography on the ground (about writing: poetry and walking are tightly connected: french „le talon“, the heel, is from to „tell, tale“, and this means to count, french „raconter“. A certain rhythm of verses is called „jambus“ – from „la jambe“ the leg – and another dactylus „with fingers“. And even prose means „to proceed straight forwards“).

Secondly thoughts thought by walking are quite different from those thought while sitting or laying on the bed. A poet always needs to walk to get the rhythm, and maybe a musician too.. Happy if your walk of life got music! And whole populations wrote history by walking, by migrating to unknown places, from Cengiz Khan up to the village people of nowadays.

And it is a very old tradition to carry the dead out of the house with their feet first. Because the feet know where to go.

We use to say about great people, like Kemal Atatürk, like Christian Morgenstern for example „they are too far in our future, aman!“ But let’s try to walk in their footsteps.

Daily mythology: Give me a hand

Here is some etymology again:

„Hand“ comes from old English „hond“, from protogermanic „khanduz“ and the french „main“ from manus “hand, strength, power over, armed force“, from these two main (!) roots a lot of words we use but  rarely think about are diverted. We just handle them. Sometimes I am handicapped in finding words, I must buy them from second hand. Hope  the sellers are handsome (to me). Alas! „Hands up!“ they say and put me in handcuffs. What shall they do? They’re off to maintain public order – without any manipulation, I hope. The judge reads a manuscript to me, I am sentenced to work in a manufacture (first I study the manual, then I work in busy manner as a hand, then as manager). I hope for a maneuver to emancipate me of all this. Otherwise I’ll write a manifesto…


I remember a tale from France, “The man of all colours”. There it says“…He followed the dwarf to the underworld. They came to a huge castle and the dwarf let him in and then disappeared. The man of all colours did not find any human being in that castle, but hands were everywhere. Hands opened the doors for him, hands hold the lights, hands served the dishes at dinner, hands showed him his sleeping room. He had a good life, though in time he got bored with all these mute servants….”


In time humans created in fact a tool for every movement and activity of the hand. The axe is better than the naked hand, even if you know karate (what means „with naked hand“). The spoon is easier for soup than the palm of your hand. The shovel digs much faster than the fingernail. The plough…. Then the caterpillar, the crane, the compressed air hammer, the scalpel and so on……. We don’t need our hands anymore, except to read the future in the lines of our palm. In fact: to create the future, hands are needed, the only thought is helpless for that aim.


Daily mythology: Nobody



Being tired of heads, the author sits on the beach (the season just starts, sezon başlıyor!) and sees some bodies on the shore

We all know the gigantic head-sculptures at Mt.Rushmore at least from photographs. Well, in a certain sense these presidents are literally nobodies aren’t they? Let’s forget them for a while, it is spring, body and soul are longing for the sun (while the head’s protected by a hat).

In fact tourism is a matter of exposing our skin to sunshine, all the office-workers, cellar-crawlers, computer freaks, book worms and night owls feel an aching hunger for sunshine. Modern summer-tourism is happening on the beaches (of Mediterranean climate zone) The beach is a border – as our skin is – and borders are fascinating zones of liveliness. Just a few examples: there are more flowers at the border between woods and meadow than inside of both of them. There is more traffic on the roads in the morning and evening than at noon or at night. There are colours emerging at dawn and not in the darkness or the bright light. In fact our whole living sphere is a small borderline between the petrified inner of our planet and the vacuum of space. And the beach! What colours, what life, what noise during summer holidays in Bodrum, in Bitez, in Göltürkbükü and Torba, while Kizilaĝac, Mumcular and Dörttepe are sleeping beauties in the glast of summer heat……


(Photograph: Shower-bodies at Turgutreis © Thomas Kutzli)


Come on! Let’s meditate about bodies!!

Like about heads here a bit of etymology:


German “Leib” – life, like (like a body), “Körper” – corpse – “Leiche” dead body. Interesting connections are: corsage, corset (size of the body); corpulent; leprechaun, the Irish dwarfs (little body); nobody, anybody and somebody; member (of parliament); limb (from Proto-Indogerman “lei”) = any visible part of the body, labour = exertion of the body, today used in sense of to plough or to give birth, some countries got even a labour-party…..; meniscus = crescent shaped body; hocus-pocus (from lat. “hoc est corpus meus” = this is my body)….

(see: http://www.etymonline.com/index.php)


Should the body be the bearer of life (as much of these words suggest), and the skin the zone where we get conscience of it? In my favourite lokanta here Şadi Bey just plays “I got you……. under my skin…. ), and the head, the face, the brain, the impact of individuality, would be carried around by the ever serving body and its members?


In modern times now another part of us has been separated from our entirety . I may be allowed to take a short ride into matters of criminology: As big communities were organizing themselves there was need to identify individuals in the crowd of people. First it was done by names. But it was not difficult at all to take a nickname, a false name and start anew (after some crimes for example). In some countries – let’s take the Osman Empire – there were not even second names.

Around 1880 Alphonse Bertillon, a French anthropologist, had the most nearby idea for an identification: the photograph of the human face (see my  article “Headroom” about the face and head in Bodrum Observer, issue xx)

Then the hierarchy of human body parts changed: Francis Galton, a cousin of Charles Darwin, created the method of fingerprints…..Fingerprints offer an infallible means of personal identification. That is the essential explanation for their having supplanted other methods of establishing the identities of people.

(see history of fingerprints: http://www.onin.com/fp/fphistory.html)

But in much more ways we got into a „finger-age“. It began with the finger on the trigger of fire weapons, then the shutter of the camera, then the keys of the typewriter…. nowadays we mostly just use one fingertip, be it for telecommand, keyboard, wireless mouse or touchscreen…. We are immobilized – in front of monitor or under the sun of the beach, because technique became independent from us, has run out of our bodies…..

The whole world of machines is – as I’ll try to develop in the third part of this article – an extension of our hands and feet……

Daily mythology: Headroom


“Mens sana in corpore sano” (“a sound mind in a sound body,” a line found in Juvenal, “Satires”)
The author is sitting in Gümüşlük , feeling rather sound, though much thoughts go around in is head…..
Brutus, as we know from school, murdered the great Caesar. As we know in Yarımadası too, he fled to Gümüşlük, ancient Myndos, and lived there for a while, far from the capitals of power.
“Brutus” means “stupid”, earnest, without whit; in fact we created “brutal” and “brute” from this adjective. It was told that Brutus, Marcus Junius, swore to save the Republic, the most modern achievement of common life, from people wanting to be the boss, the chief, the head of the state, and thus he stabbed his friend Cajus Julius Caesar…., who betrayed the Republic in wanting to be the one and only holder of power, the “Caesar”.
Five centuries earlier there was another Brutus (from the same family of Junii) stabbing the last of Roman kings, Tarquinius Superbus, which raped the beautiful Lucretia This ancestor was thus founder of the Roman Republic. It was said, that both Brutuses were quite planning and intelligent and disguised for a long time as fools. (You just watch the fools in Shakespeare’s plays).
But in spite of these Brutuses, the body of the Republic was replaced by the reign of the Caesars, the imperators, the queens and kings, the sultans, the başkan. Republic and real democracy are up to our days a rare and menaced species…….
From the Roman days up to our time there is as well the tradition of creating busts in public places. The human head marks the impact of individuality (and it is like one of those ironies of history, that one of the best early busts is that of Brutus…). Up to our century the bust, the human head without any body, is an icon, placed in academies, on altars, in gardens, barracks, above entrances, in public space, being the ornament of numerous representative buildings like parliaments, opera houses, churches… Even here in Turkey, still belonging to the non figurative sphere of eastern cultures, the portrait (for example of Kemal Atatürk), takes a decisive place in public sphere.
Thinking about that two facts forced their way into my mind: Islam destroys faces – for example of holy people shown in paintings –
and french revolution invented the guillotine, the machine to “harvest” cut off heads by dozens and hundreds……….
I may be allowed to put an etymology of the word “head” here:
Head: – old English heafod = “top of the body”, also “chief person, leader, ruler”, in old Saxon it was hobid (the hobbits!), German “Haupt”, Gothic “Haubib”, from the Proto-Indo-German kauput, Latin “caput”.
More or less derived from these we find a bunch of (important) words we rarely reflect about: headline, to head for, cabbage (!, from caput. French people even say ” mon chou” as a love word), cap, chief, captain, caporal/corporal (the head as leader of the corpse, the body), capo (in mafia), capital (the main town of a country) capital (the stocks, the property), capitalism, cattle (moveable property, especially livestock, Turkish küçük baş hayvan = sheep, goats, büyük baş hayvan = cows and horses…), capsize (when a ship is sinking by the head), cape, chapter, handkerchief (ker chief = cover head), Kennedy (said to be from old Irish cinneide = ugly head), pasha ( from Turkish baş = head (just collect the composed words of it), chaperon, penn (Gaelic = head, ”Pennsylvania”) and many many others… (see: Online Etymology Dictionary http://www.etymonline.com/index.php)
Is there any body?
Now have a look at – maybe – the oldest human sculpture of the world, the monumental “Venus” – which measures only about a span!, found in Willendorf near Vienna and about 30000 years old. Her body – a heap of wheat, as king Solomon would say, but her head, her face like wrapped in sheets and invisible. The body, today often a matter of shame, of strange desires (köfte! dance!! naked swimming!!!), which has to be covered, which one don’t has to talk about (Queen Victoria was not amused about visible ankles of her subjects) was then the important, the face still unindividual and not to be remembered…..
Obviously this Venus is similar to the ancient mother-goddess Kybele. Kybele – kubus – Kaaba/means “cube” (originally, says the tradition, Kybele was represented neither as human nor as animal but as a stone. Mekka as far as that the place of an adoration far older than the time of Prophet Mohammed…….)
The holy stones like the Kaaba were called Bayt Allah/Beth El “house of god”, these stones often were meteorites and are to be found in much important places. A late recall of these atavistic places of adoration may be the “Black Madonna”s to be found for example in Polonia or in Chartres and said not to be created by humans (“from the stars”)
Every year from 15. to 27 of march the Hilaria, the “ludi megalenses” were celebrated in Rome: to the honour of “Magna Mater” (the great mother, as Kybele was called too) a pine trunk was erected by young men and girls and women, covered with the blood of an sacrificed oxen, danced around it. These festivities had orgiastic character. In ancient Rome, Hilaria were a class of holidays, times of pomp and rejoicing; there were public ones in honor of Kybele at the spring equinoxes as well as private ones on the day of a marriage or a son’s birth. In reduced shape they did come up to our days: to the “Maibaum”, a trunk put every spring in the centre of German villages, often the new married couples or the new born babies were represented on the top, which shows the fertility touch of that tradition.
What a coincidence. It was on 21 march that Brutus murdered Cajus Julius Caesar….. as we might say now, the defender of the body (the people, the republic) against the head/face (look at coins: there’s the face of the mighty one!)
Do we know anything about the body of our kings and presidents? But we see her faces everywhere.
I am smiling now: as a big exception to that I saw huge photographs in public space, showing Mustafa Kemal in pants sitting on the shore….
But in a future article let’s talk about the body and it’s members: hands and feet…..

Daily mythology: The good old days

Why am I savoring some things I didn’t like in the past – when it arose? James Bond, ABBA, Curry-Wurst? The latter though remains our most sincere pleasure – we wanted it for days and weeks, and as soon as we ate it we felt sick…
But how exited we were after a James-Bond-movie in the “Gloria”! This fascistic approach! And Abba was just a tepid decoction of the Beatles (but we favoured Alice Cooper, of course, or Lou Reed or Jefferson Airplane!, went to movies made by Godard or Warhol and ate Schaschlik – just lately I learned, that Schaschlik didn’t come to us from Yugoslavia, but from Kazakstan). In time we settled down and grew white beards like Sean Connery, the revolution was postponed, the public opinion went to be conservative…or was written into that direction. But we still hate “Bild-Zeitung”! And we still love Fishn Chips.

Daily mythology: What I think about the headscarf

Preliminary remark: In Europe there are veiled people too, just remember all the nuns on Italian streets (we used to call them “crows”). And never you would see any religious cult in Turkish TV like on the German channels nearly every Sunday….
I don’t want to compare Europe to Asia. After all I am living in Turkey.

To allow the headscarf in universities, courts and army is just improving individual freedom, they say. And after all it is a command written in Koran, they say (show me the place, please)
Everybody should be able to follow commands, better even, his personal tastes.
Yes! Even Alevi, Tattoo- wearing people and beer-drinkers! And even the Uigur minority in China! We protest against their treatment by the Chinese majority! And the Palestinian! And the Turks in Europe!

The treatment of minorities by the ruling Sunni-believers very clearly shows that they see the headscarf as a Sunni-political symbol.

About Alevi. The Alevi-Belief is included in İslam. Therefore they can go to normal mosques and don’t need their own cemevi, they say.
On the other side there is a fatwa: Don’t marry an Alevi. “The Alevi faith is null and void; therefore marriage is not permissible.”
Summary: Sunni governments can decide where Alevis should be praying; but they should not marry Sunnis. Alevis should not seek a religious status. Meanwhile, the Alevis can continue to pay taxes to finance Diyanet’s (Directorate of Religious Affairs) budget that overwhelms the budgets of more than 10 ministries combined.