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Concerning Turkish Aesthetics

Thirty years in Asia, fluent Japanese and Chinese speaker, a devotee of Asian dance drama (Kathakali, Khon, Javanese and Balinese theater, Noh), I am--the left side of me--an Asian gentleman.

I like to think that that makes me a global cultural connoisseur and see many overarching similarities across the globe. For example, European art and literature use many of the same tricks: French cinema is more about showing than explaining, things said with the eyes rather than the tongue, long silences, understatement: those who know, know; symbolism--Faulkner tells you a story, but the story is not really a local story--who cares this is Mississippi--it is a symbol of something universal: the sensitive reader will look for that universality; interrupted and unfinished tales: E.M. Forester's A Passage to India does not tell you what happened in the cave.: why not? First, because often we are faced with such things in our lives: we experience something but cannot tell what had happened; and second: because we must live with such puzzles all the same.

Turkish literature and film feature this in spades. Seasons and flowers as symbols. Long silences. Eyes. Symbolism (in a film I saw last night, The Snow and the Bear there was the menace of the bear, the men lighting fires and beating tin cans to scare off the invisible threat).

And, of course, in Orhan Pamuk's My Name is Red, in chapter ten, the tree speaking:

I don't want to be a tree. I want to be its meaning.

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