Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Sense of Existence and Imagination

Nearness to God cannot be calculated. To be near to God is not to go up or down, but to escape from the prison of existence. The treasure of God lies in non-existence. You are deluded by existence. How could you understand what non-existence is?


from RUMI - A Spiritual Treasury, compiled by Juliet MABEY
One World Pub. 2003
(P.S. RUMI = Mevlana Celaleddin-i Rumi)

"…psychological determinism. We can affirm fearlessly that if consciousness is a succession of determined physical facts it is entirely impossible for it ever to produce anything but the real. For consciousness to be able to imagine, it must be able to escape from the world by its very nature; it must be able by its own efforts to withdraw from the world. In a word it must be free. Thus the thesis of unreality has yielded us the possibility of negation as its condition. Now, the latter is possible only by the “negation” of the world as a whole, and this negation has revealed itself to us as the reverse of the very freedom of consciousness".

Jean-Paul Sartre: Basic Writings

from The Psychology of Imagination - Imagination and Consciousness

Edited By Stephen Priest
Routledge, 2005

Thursday, January 15, 2009


Many times that I have stood in front of a toy seller’s shop, had this small boy in me wished to transcend the glass shield and reach out to one of the toys on the display. Although light can pass through the glass we can not. This feeling that you feel against the seperating property of a shield of glass, the feeling of powerlessness because of the inability to reach something you yearn for hurts me deeply. On the other hand, “one should not reach out to the things he is not able to catch” says our parents.

As the years pass by, notices one that our lives are divided with glass shields, a compartment next to another… Sometimes there exists nothing, not even a glass shield between. Somebody new born to this system of life does not notice these ‘glass’ compartments in the beginning, only till he tries to reach something he does not deserve…

To speak is a privelege of this type. When you look around everybody talks. It’s just as simple as happening by itself without any effort… But, when it is up to you to speak to a foreigner, to a teacher, to a supervisor or to one of your students or a farmer, just try and see what happens… One notices that it is not as simple as it looks to speak to others, just like does a small kid who tries to reach something higher than his own height…

Imagine a child aged around two years old! He can understand what’s going on around him. He keeps track of every close thing . He is even aware that he is a seperate being which owns its own life. But he cannot speak… An unseen shield of glass stops his voice to be heard when tries to speak… He is aware that he has a voice. He does not know what he cannot do. He tries to reach out to and touch things that only his words could touch. He fails. He does not succeed because there is an unseen transparent thing between. Indeed he tries to find what that is. At the end, he does find it. A few words come out of his mouth. Something like “mom, dad”… The foundations of the structure which have been laid underneath will help him stand up for the rest of his life. This is the name of the thing that stands between him and others: SELF.

Each person who succeeds to speak lives similar difficulties a couple of more times in their life. The most striking example of these situations is learning the first foreign language. Specially if one goes to a country of which language he does not know well and learns it slowly day by day like a small kid, this situation becomes quiet similar to the process in his very childhood. Psychological problems that may appear in people living abroad may have substantial relation with this phenomenon. If scrutinized, schizophrenia and other similar problems have some roots in this difficult period of life around 2 years old.

Many have English as a second language in Turkey. Unfortunately, as one of my visiting European colleagues has mentioned ‘Everybody speaks Turkish in Turkey, but all does so badly.’ Hence we are a society who can speak the second language not so good. OK, what happens if one tries to learn the 3rd and even 4th languages as many do in Europe? Unfortunately, the number of people who knows this, who has tried and succeeded are very few in Turkey compared to key European countries. When pushed to learn the 3rd language your second language begins to waver, you begin to forget some words etc… When pushing the 4th language the grammar difficulties in every language including your mother tongue may appear… You forget words, or mix languages using French words in English etc. Even worse is,you think you are speaking your native tongue when speaking an other language, your students although benefiting from this, politely make fun of it. The worst, because of not knowing which language to listen while passing people are speaking on the street you may think some Germans are speaking quiet good Turkish. The rest of your life, you hear French, German, English words in the noise that you hear…

Foreign language education is a strategically important subject in our country. Around our country lies Greek, Bulgarian, Serbian and other ex-Yuogoslavian, Romenic, Hungarian, Russian, Ukranian, Moldovian, Checnic, and other ex-Russian, Armenian, Persian, Arabic speaking countries. From the European perspective we have to count English, French, German, Italian and Spanish to name a few… Turkey can succeed against this great challenge by only good organization, planning and specialization, not by acts of good luck.

The complexity of the Turkish geography surrounded with oceans has created the obligation of a closed culture in a single umbrella language and culture. The physical largeness and the neessity to keep everything in order has caused the development of practices that may not be in parallel with Europe for many centuries…

Turkey tries to improve her relations with the European Union primarily for economical obligations. But similar to the child learning to speak for the first time Turkey has communication difficulties with Europe. The struggle to express her own concerns and convince her counterparts to give her deserved rights, is driving Turkey to redefine and find herself anew in the 21st century world. When mixed with the effort to reown her own culture coming from the past, the effort to transcend the invisible glass between Europe and Turkey, pushes the Turkish society to the limits of her cultural and sipiritual strengths. An adventure initiated by economical obligations is having much wider and unforeseen effects on our society driving her to the limits of healthy development.