Politics, religion, and culture where East meets West

Posts Tagged ‘seedy Trabzon hotels

Two years of 28east

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May 17th, 2013

A lot can change in two years, and—looking back on my first few posts in May and June of 2011—I would say that a lot has changed. This is not to say that the Syrian crisis has been resolved, that energy pipelines have become less crucial, or that Arabs have stopped watching Turkish soap operas, but that the blog itself has changed. Where the first year primarily made “news analysis” its goal, the second year was unapologetically less focused. Though I still posted the occasional headline as a sort of mental bookmark, it was rarely accompanied by meaningful analysis. As of this writing, I haven’t read a newspaper properly in several months.

What the missing “news analysis” was supposed to be replaced by was “on-the-ground experience.” But even this didn’t regularly make its way to the blog, especially after my trusty laptop unceremoniously kicked the bucket. I described myself as “cut loose.” I hardly know how to categorize what has happened in the meantime, but it has led me to a number of interesting places and situations: Like conversations with communists outside rickety bars, late-night fights with kitchen-knife-wielding cab drivers, and short stays in seedy Trabzon hotels. Or like this desk with this old computer and this Turkish keyboard (getting used to it) on this hill overlooking a halogen-lit Ankara.

It also led me to a hard-hitting realization.

With my attempt “to actually start using the blog’s ‘Culture’ category” still a matter of great difficulty, it should have been obvious: I was missing the most crucial aspect of the culture—the language. Greetings, transaction terminology, and a basic grasp of grammar may be enough to blend in with the crowd, but it’s apparently not enough to know what the crowd is thinking. If Turks think in Turkish, then understanding Turkey requires a real understanding of Turkish. By now it seems obvious, it having been beaten into my head unrelentingly for the past six months, but it had never seemed as crucial as it does now. Accordingly, this post will be the first in the “Language” category, which will likely have a significant—if not central—role in the future of the blog.

But despite these obvious shifts in the method, or the means, of the blog; I’d like to emphasize—as I did last year today—that the aim, the end, remains the same:

This is merely an outlet, and a motivation, for thought. The reader is welcome to engage in, and improve on, this thought.



M. James

Written by M. James

May 17, 2013 at 2:54 pm