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Happy together (Sept. 8, 2001)


Jeremy's journal

The peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.

John Stuart Mill

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Orhan Pamuk

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Connecting two themes

I wasn't buying as a book collector would, but as a frantic person who was desperate to understand why Turkey was so poor and so troubled.
Pamuk's essay in today's Guardian reminds me a lot of his essays in Part II of Other Colors, "Books and Reading." He talks about reading and imitating the first and second waves of 20th-century Turkish poets, and how that poetry (and the repression of those poets) affected his thinking and his voice.

The second half of the essay however moves into different territory, questions about Turkey's status as a nation and in relation to the West -- this is material that he has written a lot about, much of it collected in the subsequent section of Other Colors, "Politics, Europe, and Other Problems of Being Oneself." The transition -- the sentence I have quoted above -- is a bit of genius, a summary in 26 words of a huge portion of Pamuk's writing and thinking -- there are whole volumes of worthwhile memoir that can be extrapolated from this sentence.

A lovely essay -- go read it! But Ms. Freely: "exalt" does not mean the same thing as "exult". (Apologies if this error is down to the editors rather than the translator.)

I have added an entry for this essay to the Pamuk bibliography I'm maintaining. If you see any other articles that would fit in well there, let me know.

posted morning of Saturday, October 18th, 2008
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