Orhan Pamuk

Other Colors (a re-reading)

โ€œ๐˜•๐˜ฐ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜จ ๐˜ค๐˜ข๐˜ฏ ๐˜ฑ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฆ๐˜ต๐˜ณ๐˜ข๐˜ต๐˜ฆ ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜ต๐˜ฐ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ค๐˜ณ๐˜ข๐˜ค๐˜ฌ๐˜ด, ๐˜ฉ๐˜ฐ๐˜ญ๐˜ฆ๐˜ด, ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜ท๐˜ช๐˜ด๐˜ช๐˜ฃ๐˜ญ๐˜ฆ ๐˜จ๐˜ข๐˜ฑ๐˜ด ๐˜ฐ๐˜ง ๐˜ญ๐˜ช๐˜ง๐˜ฆ ๐˜ข๐˜ด ๐˜ง๐˜ข๐˜ด๐˜ต ๐˜ฐ๐˜ณ ๐˜ข๐˜ด ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฐ๐˜ณ๐˜ฐ๐˜ถ๐˜จ๐˜ฉ๐˜ญ๐˜บ ๐˜ข๐˜ด ๐˜ธ๐˜ฐ๐˜ณ๐˜ฅ๐˜ด ๐˜ค๐˜ข๐˜ฏ. ๐˜๐˜ต ๐˜ช๐˜ด ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ๐˜ด๐˜ฆ ๐˜ค๐˜ณ๐˜ข๐˜ค๐˜ฌ๐˜ด ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ข๐˜ต ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ฆ๐˜ด๐˜ด๐˜ฆ๐˜ฏ๐˜ค๐˜ฆ ๐˜ฐ๐˜ง ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜จ๐˜ด โ€” ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜จ๐˜ด ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ข๐˜ต ๐˜ฎ๐˜ข๐˜ฌ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ถ๐˜ด ๐˜ค๐˜ถ๐˜ณ๐˜ช๐˜ฐ๐˜ถ๐˜ด ๐˜ข๐˜ฃ๐˜ฐ๐˜ถ๐˜ต ๐˜ญ๐˜ช๐˜ง๐˜ฆ, ๐˜ข๐˜ฃ๐˜ฐ๐˜ถ๐˜ต ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ธ๐˜ฐ๐˜ณ๐˜ญ๐˜ฅ โ€” ๐˜ค๐˜ข๐˜ฏ ๐˜ง๐˜ช๐˜ณ๐˜ด๐˜ต ๐˜ฃ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ข๐˜ด๐˜ค๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜ต๐˜ข๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฅ, ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ช๐˜ต ๐˜ช๐˜ด ๐˜จ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ญ๐˜ช๐˜ต๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜ข๐˜ต๐˜ถ๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ข๐˜ต ๐˜ง๐˜ช๐˜ณ๐˜ด๐˜ต ๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ๐˜ท๐˜ฆ๐˜ข๐˜ญ๐˜ด ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฎ.โ€

It is no secret that reading My Name is Red fifteen years ago drove a scimitar across my consciousness and opened up a whole new world of literature to me with its bursts of color and contemplations on art and style.

While I cannot say that every single work by Pamuk appeals to me, he bottles the sounds, the smells, the sights, the tastes, the textures, and the melancholies of Turkey and allows me to be, as he would say, โ€œIn possession of another worldโ€; and he has in some measure shaped my mindscape.

On the way back home from Turkey in 2016 and while inside a cafe waiting for someone, I attempted to finish reading Istanbul in Manila. I soon found out that the book would not exactly become a favorite โ€” the consolation is that the person I waited for would be.

Re-reading Other Colors: Essays and a Story in my thirties, I have noticed that so much of it makes more sense to me now and I have realized that, by some stroke of serendipity, Pamuk’s books have been present in lifeโ€™s significant moments to vivify specific memories.

โ€œ๐˜ˆ๐˜ด ๐˜ต๐˜ช๐˜ฎ๐˜ฆ ๐˜จ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฆ๐˜ด ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ, ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ๐˜ง๐˜ฐ๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ, ๐˜ธ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ค๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฐ๐˜ต ๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฃ๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ ๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ๐˜ข๐˜ฅ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜จ ๐˜ธ๐˜ณ๐˜ช๐˜ต๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜ด ๐˜ธ๐˜ช๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฐ๐˜ถ๐˜ต ๐˜ข๐˜ญ๐˜ด๐˜ฐ ๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ๐˜ท๐˜ช๐˜ด๐˜ช๐˜ต๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜จ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ธ๐˜ฐ๐˜ณ๐˜ญ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ข๐˜ด ๐˜ธ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ฌ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฆ๐˜ธ ๐˜ช๐˜ต ๐˜ธ๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฏ ๐˜ธ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ง๐˜ช๐˜ณ๐˜ด๐˜ต ๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ๐˜ข๐˜ฅ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฎ ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ๐˜ค๐˜ข๐˜ญ๐˜ญ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜จ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜ค๐˜ฉ๐˜ฐ๐˜ข๐˜ต๐˜ฆ ๐˜ญ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ๐˜จ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜จ๐˜ด ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ๐˜บ ๐˜ข๐˜ธ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฌ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ ๐˜ถ๐˜ด. ๐˜ž๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฏ ๐˜ธ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ข๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ข๐˜ต๐˜ต๐˜ข๐˜ค๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ต๐˜ฐ ๐˜ข ๐˜ธ๐˜ณ๐˜ช๐˜ต๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ, ๐˜ช๐˜ต ๐˜ช๐˜ด ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฐ๐˜ต ๐˜ซ๐˜ถ๐˜ด๐˜ต ๐˜ฃ๐˜ฆ๐˜ค๐˜ข๐˜ถ๐˜ด๐˜ฆ ๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ถ๐˜ด๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ถ๐˜ด ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜ต๐˜ฐ ๐˜ข ๐˜ธ๐˜ฐ๐˜ณ๐˜ญ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ข๐˜ต ๐˜ค๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ๐˜ต๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜ถ๐˜ฆ๐˜ด ๐˜ต๐˜ฐ ๐˜ฉ๐˜ข๐˜ถ๐˜ฏ๐˜ต ๐˜ถ๐˜ด, ๐˜ฃ๐˜ถ๐˜ต ๐˜ฃ๐˜ฆ๐˜ค๐˜ข๐˜ถ๐˜ด๐˜ฆ ๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ฉ๐˜ข๐˜ด ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ ๐˜ด๐˜ฐ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฆ๐˜ข๐˜ด๐˜ถ๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ฎ๐˜ข๐˜ฅ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ถ๐˜ด ๐˜ธ๐˜ฉ๐˜ฐ ๐˜ธ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ข๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ.โ€

Other Colors also happens to be my first signed copy by a Nobel laureate.

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The White Castle (a re-reading)

June 2021

Fifteen years ago The White Castle meant nothing more to me than a tale set in the 17th century about an Italian intellectual who sets sail from Venice to Naples only to be captured by Turks and brought to Constantinople where his master would turn out to be his doppelgรคnger. I knew it was a novel about identity, but it did not leave a lasting impression back then.

I had even forgotten that this was set during a pandemic wherein people lived in fear of the plague! โ€œJanissaries guarded the entrances to the market-places, the avenues, the boat landings, halting passers-by, interrogating them: โ€˜Who are you? Where are you going? Where are you coming from?โ€™โ€

The same questions that each doppelgรคnger would often ask the other and himself โ€” the same questions that confront the reader.

Through my re-reading, I discovered nuances that were lost to my younger mind; and passages that I previously failed to mark with a pencil leapt up from the pages with intensity.

Over the course of time, the two charactersโ€™ lives would become inextricably entwined, they would embark on engineering projects, study astronomy, work on other branches of science, write books and and share a life together. As soon as Pamuk tricks us into thinking that one is inferior to the other, and into making us think we have a good grasp of who is truly master or slave, their roles would be reversed until it becomes difficult to tell them apart. And yet, their likeness is something that they do not acknowledge openly.

By and by, the question of who is superior? fades into oblivion and metamorphoses into who is who?

On one occasion, the Sultan asks them, โ€œHave you two never looked at yourselves in the mirror together?โ€

And there it was, the very point that I missed hiding in plain sight โ€” East and West personified!

And who else more qualified to write about their tumultuous but inevitable relationship? But of course! A man from that city perched on both East and West!

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A Strangeness in My Mind

February 2021

The first page of this book quotes a passage from William Wordsworthโ€™s The Prelude:
โ€œI had melancholy thoughtsโ€ฆ
A strangeness in my mind,
A feeling that I was not for that hour,
Nor for that place.โ€

For someone who has felt like an anachronism all her life, I felt like I owned these lines. It was as if I was meant to read the book just for this, and having come across it right at the start, the rest of the book was an additional literary present.

Ever since I read My Name is Red, I have been looking for the Orhan Pamuk I encountered there in each of his books. (I even looked for the actual Pamuk in Istanbul, persuading the whole family to visit his Museum of Innocence on the European side of the city in the hope of bumping into him.) I never seemed to find that Pamuk again.

But there is something in common with this book and My Name is Red. It is the way he allows different characters to gain control over the narration, thereby lending the reader a fuller grasp.

There are things Pamuk writes that make me uncomfortable, but these simultaneously compel me to admire a straightforwardness about life that only the most courageous writers can execute.

It is only through this book that I have seen for myself what all his works have in common โ€” aside from providing details that escape the average consciousness, perhaps a result of having gone to architecture school โ€” every book is a love story, no matter the plot or the characters: A love story between a writer and a place; between a writer and Istanbul, or Kars; between a writer and Turkey; a love story about the effects of the bittersweet passing of time on a place; about someone who recognizes a nation profoundly inside out, from its complicated politics to its inner conflicts and issues, its customs and traditions, from its spectacular buildings to its impoverished slums, from its most magnificent cities to its humble villages, from its splendid past to what it is now; a love story with a viewpoint only a lasting lover can deliver who, after having seen its glories and deepest flaws and undesirable secrets, remains and continues to love.

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