Tag Archives: Istanbul

Introduction: Narrator – on the way


Instead of a home

The moon and the starry sky

As steadfast mate

 – free to haiku by: Inoue Shirō

As long as I exist, there have been storytellers in my life. At home, at school, in the synagogue, in the Church, in books, in the classics of antiquity, in the Tanakh – the Bible of Judaism – and in the Talmud, I have heard of the experiences of the great storytellers. Next to my mother, the most influential storytellers in my life are: Jesus of Nazareth as the Christ in the New Testament of the Christian Bible, Siddhartha Gautama as Buddha, Muhammad as the Prophet and Messenger of God in the Islamic faith, Vyasa as writer of the Mahābhārata – the story of India –, Homer the poet and singer of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and Rumi or better Jalāl al-Dīn the poet of amongst others Masnavi.

Before I met Narrator in Istanbul, an extraordinary mathematician was the most wondrous storyteller in my life. With only a suitcase, he travelled from friend to friend for a few days home. Regularly he stayed a few nights with me in Amsterdam. He recounted about the difference between finiteness and infinity, about prime numbers, sets and zero. As a welcome gift he always gave me some of his mathematics books that he exchanged against a few technical books from my bookshelf. At our parting he asked sincerely if I didn’t mind that he had to leave now.

Narrator, I saw for the first time in the Süleyman mosque in Istanbul where he welcomed me with: “Here, air and earth are one”.  I replied: “This, that we are now”, whereby he swirled with rustling clothes.

Suleyman moskee1[1]

Suleyman moskee3[1]

That morning I had arrived in Istanbul on invitation by Carla Drift to start our Odyssey to “Who are you – a survey into our existence”. For the first time Carla Drift and I had met at a philosophy lecture given by Prof. Dr. W. Luijpen at the Technical University in Delft. Hereafter our lives regularly crossed; we helped each other where necessary and we always enjoyed each other’s company.

A few years ago, Carla began her nomadic existence in Europe with a Caravan-Tractor combination. On a clear icy cold night Carla saw a dark cold man in a sleeping bag by the side of the road. After she had saved him from an eternal dream, they travelled to Istanbul where had scheduled to start our Odyssey.

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Narrator – εἰς τὴν Πόλιν on the way to “this”


My third incarnation as Bhikṣu or – in the words of everyday life – as wanderer who followed the annual trek of the birds, ended in Istanbul. In this former capital of the Eastern Roman Empire [1] I became part of the “polis” [2] – not only part of the City State with a public secular politics, but at home in the universal community of environment and people

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA[3]

My Acropolis was not a temple where in the past the Greeks gave a house [4] to their Gods with all the splendour and exceptional beauty. Although I was at home everywhere, I found no lasting home in a church, mosque or temple.

Akropolis[5]

Between the many churches and mosques of Istanbul I experienced my body and “polis” – in the form of the universal living environment – as the temple of God [6].

Blauwe moskee[7]

In the poem “This we have now” by Rumi I read a reflection of my world in Istanbul:

This

That we are now

Created the body, cell by cell,

Like bees building a honeycomb.

The human body and the univers

Grow from This [8]

During my first three incarnations – first as Kṛṣṇa in Kenya, then as idol in Amsterdam and several Northern cities, and thereafter as Bhikṣu who followed the annual trek of the birds between South and North Europe – I had only seen reflections of “This” within my own living environment.

In my fourth incarnation I wanted to leave the protection of the cave [9] – in which I found shelter until now – with only reflections of the all-encompassing “This” as Plato described in his Politeia [10].

Grot[11]

Slowly at the beginning of my new incarnation I became perfectly included in the universe. In the libraries of Istanbul I read translations of the works of Rumi. Along with his poems I swirlingly began a new existence.

With the new spring – at the invitation of Carla Drift – Man Leben arrived in Istanbul. Carla, Man and I decided to start “Who are you – a survey into our existence”. Before we entered everyday life on this quest, we wrote each other’s biographies.


[1] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Istanbul

[2] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polis

[3] Source image: http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corne_d%27Or

[4] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polis

[5] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polis

[6] See also: The first letter to the Corinthians 12 – 20

[7] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Istanbul

[8] Part of the English version of the poem “This we have now” by Rumi. See also: Barks, Coleman, The Essential Rumi. New York: Castle Books, 1997, p. 262

[9] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allegory_of_the_Cave

[10] In English the Politeia is often translated with “State” or “Republic”. See also: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Staat_(Plato)

[11] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allegory_of_the_Cave

Narrator – Snow face


Every night a dream carries me away. This icy clear night at the beginning of December a dream led me to another world. At new moon I lied under the starry sky perfectly still in my sleeping bag to avoid heat loss. Every now and then I felt a tingling in my hands and feet and then they were cold again. My breath – a temporal home for the villagers massacred by my fellow militia members and me during the night fire in the forest – watched over me.

It got colder; my body relaxed itself [1] and my eyes blinked no more. The darkness and the firmament sucked me in. I hovered with the galaxies in the universe. No earth, no worries, no sound, completely absorbed in the infinity.

Sterrennacht[2]

From the edge of the universe I heard footsteps approaching. In the corner of my eyes a shadow appeared. The shadow became larger and I heard another breath next to my breath. After an eternity the dark face of my mother bent over me. Her curly hair had turned grey. My mother had come to take me home. In her peaceful face I saw that I was never gone away; within her heaven and earth came together.

In this peaceful state I heard a voice. My mother and my eyesight faded. Someone tried to wake me up. Very slowly my breath returned to everyday world: the firmament and the earth were separated again with the opening of my sleeping bag. I was stone-cold and just barely conscious.

Sterrenstelsels[3]

The voice took me and after an eternal struggle with my stilled body we entered a lit hot room. The voice undressed me and covered itself and me close to each other under a duvet. Slowly I could see again. I saw a woman’s face with curly grey hair. She really shivered from the cold. After a very long time I warmed a little; only halfway through the next day my fingers and feet started to tingle again. I found myself in bed in a caravan.

By evening I could eat and drink a little. She asked me indignantly why I watched outside in this severe frost under the starry sky in a thin sleeping bag. My answer followed a few days later. To my question how she had found me, she replied that during a short evening stroll she saw occasionally vapour from the ground beside the path; this vapour was caused by my exhalation. My breath had guarded me.

One day later we moved together to a winter camping to let me recover. The owner of the camp-site was not happy with my appearance, but my guardian angel took care that we got a place for some nights. The first days she mothered me. She cut my hair, She shaved my beard and she washed my clothes: I was presentable to the world again.

Wintercamping[4]

In the confines of the caravan on the winter camping we told each other the main lines of our life stories. Her name was Carla Drift and she moved through Europe with a tractor–caravan combination. Since autumn her life was empty as the trees in the winter. At the end of the previous summer a man had attacked her honour and life. In self-defence she killed the assailant. Herewith she lost her innocence: a part of her had died.

I told her about my life as a child soldier in a previous incarnation; at the end of one night we had set the forest surrounding a village on fire. Our militia shot on everything and everyone who came out of the forest. I always carried the ghosts of these villagers with me; their breath was my breath and they had guarded me in the bright icy night. In memory of my mother I was on my way “εἰς τὴν Πόλιν”.

We decided to travel to Istanbul together. We alternated driving the tractor; now and then I was again a charioteer in a white winter landscape. The journey of more than 2000 kilometres lasted three months with several resting. The end of winter and the beginning of spring we stayed in Istanbul. During the visits to the many houses of God in this city – including the Hagia Sophia, we admired these buildings with domes as symbol of the bond between earth and firmament.

Hagia Sophia[5]


[1] See also for hypothermia: Stark, Peter, The last breath, the limits of adventure. New York: Ballantine Books, 2001 p. 11 – 24

[2] Each light speck is a galaxy – some of these are as old as 13.2 billion years – the Universe is estimated to contain 200 billion galaxies. Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universe

[3] Source image: http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/imagegallery/iotd.html# – Hubble Watches Star Clusters on a Collision Course

[4] Source image:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camping

[5] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Istanboel

Narrator – on the way 2


After the death of Raven I spent every year’s winter in South Spain. In the spring I migrated with the birds to the North wandering the summer season in Northern Europe. The wind, the weather and the people I met on my way, gave direction to the temporary shelter in the northern cities.

Vogeltrek[1]

Regularly I visited Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Stockholm and Oslo. The volatile friends from the past were swept away from everyday life by the mysterious disease that had the name AIDS. Several old friends started another life without place for a wandering Bhikṣu. Usually I lived by the street with magic, storytelling and I had started singing.

My performance of Jacques Brel’s “Ne me quitte pas” [2], moved the audience. Parts of the text about shadows – during the night shadows of murdered villagers and in daytime shadows of lost beloved ones – was applicable on my life.

Let me be

Shadow of your shadow

Shadow of your hand

Shadow of your own. [3]

schaduwen[4]

After 18 years wintering in the South and in summertime wandering in the north, I was an adult in my third incarnation; each moment, hour, day, year was different and the same. Although I carried always the shadows from my previous life with me, this simple life rhythm gave some inner peace.

In the autumn I sang lines from “Ne me quitte pas” for an audience on the Leidseplein in Amsterdam:

I, I will give you

Pearls of rain

from lands

Where it never rains.[5]

After singing the words “from lands where it never rains” I knew that my mother had died. Her commandment to move to Amsterdam and its realisation had ended. I bowed to the audience and in honour of her memory I immediately set off “εἰς τὴν Πόλιν” – to the city – to Istanbul [6]. From Istanbul I wished to move to Konia the following spring. It was time to swirl in the footsteps of Rumi [7].

Come, Come, whoever you are,

Wanderer, idolatrous narrator and worshipper of the golden glow,

Come even though you have broken your vows a thousand times,

Come, and come yet again.

Ours is not a caravan of despair. [8]

Derwish[9]

On the road to Istanbul I was accompanied by my mother, like Rumi wrote in a poem:

“My thoughts are in the heart of my mother,

the heart of her will be sick

without the thoughts of me”. [10]

The fourth incarnation in my life had begun. I deviated from my usual autumn migration to South Spain. That year, the winter started early in Middle Europe. Mid November there was already snow. On the way to Istanbul I became adrift by the cold. Early December it froze solid. I had nothing to eat. The next clear night at new moon my breath watched over me. The ghosts and shadows from my life temporary found peace. The frost took me in; earth and firmament were one.

Stone and stilled

Inside and outside

One in the cosmos

Sterrenhemel[11]


[1] Source image: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vogelzug

[2] To be listened via: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=za_6A0XnMyw

[3] Source: Own translation of the last lines from Jacques Brel’s “Ne me quitte pas”.

[4] Source image: http://bat-smg.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abruozdielis:Southwark_Park_Evening_Shadows.JPG

[5] Source: translation of the first lines from the second verse of “Ne me quitte pas” by Jacques Brel.

[6] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Istanbul

[7] Jalāl ad-Dīn – in the West known as Rumi – was born near Balkh in Afghanistan in the 13th century CE. His parents fled for the Huns. Jalāl ad-Dīn received the name Rumi in the Arab world because he lived in Konia South of Ankara in the current Turkey while writing his great works. This part of the Arabic world was identified with Rome from the Roman Empire. Hence Jalāl ad-Dīn is named after the name of his main domicile in the Arab/Persian world. Source: Lewis, Franklin D., Rumi, Past and Present, East and West. Oxford: Oneworld, 2003 p. 9

[8] Free rendering of verses by Rumi. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rumi en Rumi and His Sufi Path of Love (2007) by M Fatih Citlak and Huseyin Bingul, p. 81

[9] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dervish

[10] Free rendering of a poem by Rumi. Source: Nicholson, Reynold A., The Mathnawi of Jalálu’ddin Rúmí, Book II. Cambridge: Biddles Ltd, 2001 p. 281

[11] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Starry_Night

Carla Drift – Behaviour 3


People accept tensions and feelings of injustice (or perceived injustice) to a certain extend. They adapt themselves to these tensions or (perceived) humiliations. Examples are: those who see their life completely change after a defeat, those who must live within a society that doesn’t fit their needs, those who are dominated by a dictatorial regime that never seems to end.

Very long, people can tolerate this tension and discontent until a breakpoint is reached. Suddenly a tipping point of no return arises. Man revolts [1]

[2]

A situation that was still bearable before the tipping point, suddenly is absurd and unbearable. The social inhibitions, the normal rule of justice and the ethical principles are temporarily abolished. Suddenly everything is permitted to end these tensions and the feelings of (supposed) injustice.

A primary form of extreme rebellion is seen when a man suddenly acts extremely violent whereby all forms of social behaviour, legal norms and common ethics are put aside. Usually family, friends, acquaintances and society have not foreseen this violent action in any way. After the violent act, they try to explain the extreme behaviour – the explanation is usually more meant to restore mutual trust than to clarify this particular flare-up of violence. This primary form of rebellion is found in all times and in all societies. In Indonesia and Malaysia, these unexpected acts of violence – whereby the rebel attacks all and everyone in his way – is indicated by “amok”. In the Western world all amok-rebels, if they survive their deeds, end in a psychiatric asylum where often no apparent mental disorder is found for this murderous behaviour [3]. We see this manner of primary rebellion in persons who start shooting with a firearm at a crowd or within a school without any reason.

Another primary form of extreme revolt is seen in a small group of people who suddenly do not accept their (perceived) injustice. They rebel against their situation. Examples are: lynchings and murders against individuals or small groups that exceed any form of case-law, norms and ethics. In Dutch history an example of this rebellion is the murder of the brothers de Witt by a mob in The Hague [4].

A weakened form of rebellion are rioting by supporters. These riots of supporters are of all times. An example of riots of supporters that eventually culminate in a serious rebellion, is the Nika revolt [5] in Constantinople in 532 A.C. where 30,000 people lost their lives. Small riots during chariot racing occurred often in that time; after these riots convictions of arrested participants followed. In January 532 A.C. two escaped convicts of these riots sought refuge in the sanctuary of a church under protection of a crowd. The position of Emperor Justinian was weakened by political problems. He wanted to assert his authority and the convicts were arrested again. During the next chariot races serious riots broke out in the hippodrome. The Emperor decided to flee, but Empress Theodora said: “It is not important if a woman must say to men to behave brave. One must do what one can in the event of danger. Flight is foolish. Everyone must die once and I have decided to die as Empress” (and not as a refugee). Two generals – with their battle hardened Germanic troops – decided to crush the rebellion. Hereto they lured a part of the rebellions out of the hippodrome with money coins. The remaining 30,000 rebellions were massacred in hippodrome by the troops .

[6]

In the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, I always visit the place for the Empress in the women’s gallery. From her place I see the sanctuary and from the ground floor, I look to the women’s gallery: “Empress for once and for always”.

[7]

A complete society can accept tensions and feelings of (perceived) injustice to a certain degree. Until the tipping point, the situation is seen as perfectly normal. Everyone has a suitable place until the rapid change occurs in society. The outward cause for the tipping point often seems a tiny issue for an outsider.

At the end of the 18th century the Ancient Regime in France was outdated financially, administratively and intellectually. According to a large part of the population it no longer suited the changes in that society. A decline in wages was foreseen and riots broke out. By clumsy interventions of the Government the riots got out of hand and the trust in Government declined further. The storming of the Bastille by armed revolutionaries was the start of a period when social inhibitions disappeared and the sense of justice and ethical awareness declined. The guillotine did overtime and after a very short time the revolutionaries were worse than the Ancient Regime ever was. The French State began its existence with the slogan “Egalité, Fraternité et Liberté”, but it took a long time before it was realised.

[8]

First Napoleon with the French Grande Armee had to retreat from Moscow [9] and afterwards defeated at Leipzig and Waterloo. This revolution caused next to a stream of blood also that militarism became endemic in our society and rationality was shaped inter alia in the meter and the kilogram.

The following post is about my personal life.


[1] See also: Camus, Albert, De Mens in Opstand. Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij, 1974

[2] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rebel_(book) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Camus

[3] See also: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amok en http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Running_amok

[4] See also: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johan_de_Witt

[5] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nika_riots and Cotterell, Arthur, Chariot – From chariot to tank, the astounding rise and fall of the world’s first war machine.” New York: The Overlook Press, 2004, p, 280 – 288

[6] Remnants of the hypodrome in Istanbul. Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nika_riots

[7] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hagia_Sophia

[8] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marianne_(embleem)

[9] See also: Zamoyski, Adam, 1812 – Napoleons fatale veldtocht naar Moskou. Amsterdam: Uitgeverij Balans, 2005