Wherever you turn your eyes the world can shine like transfiguration. You don’t have to bring a thing to it except a little willingness to see. Only, who could have the courage to see it? … Theologians talk about a prevenient grace that precedes grace itself and allows us to accept it. I think there must also be a prevenient courage that allows us to be brave—that is, to acknowledge that there is more beauty than our eyes can bear, that precious things have been put into our hands and to do nothing to honor them is to do great harm.
Slate: A big problem for psychiatrists when it comes to understanding addiction is that there are many of us who have no experience with it on a personal level. So sometimes there’s a built-in disconnect between the treater and the patient.
Maron: Well, yeah, because you guys are just taught to medicate and suggest things. [Pauses.] Have you even read The Big Book?
Maron: Why not?!
Slate: I know, I should… I treat people who swear by it and I haven’t even looked at it.
Maron: Yeah, see, that’s the thing with all you guys. Most therapists have never read that fucking book. But you send people to A.A. meetings, don’t you?
Slate: I do.
Maron: But you have no understanding of what the program is! I can’t understand why it’s not assigned to you guys.
Slate: That’s a really good point. Looking at my shelf right now I see The Neuroscientific Basis and Practical Applications of Psychopharmacology, but books that people in recovery actually use were never assigned to me. I could read them on my own but they’re not part of the curriculum.
Maron: I think a lot of you guys see it as some sort of goofy spiritual system. But there’s a certain brilliance to it. The program uses very simple language, so it works for people who are geniuses or for people who are morons. And it works everywhere—there are programs going on in rooms all over the world and the feeling in all of them is the same. The emotional hunger, the need, the selfishness—it’s all the fucking same! Everybody in those rooms has been to hell and back twice. They’ve fucked up so much that now they’re these demons in exile.
Design is a vessel. There’s the whole Buddhist thing about the essence of a bowl being its emptiness—that’s why it’s useful. Its emptiness allows it to hold something. I guess that means that design must talk about something else. If you make design about design, you’re just stacking bowls, and that’s not what bowls are for.
You can replace “design” with language, literature, criticism, etc. If you make these vessels about themselves, you’re just stacking for stacking’s sake / talking for talking’s sake.
In prison Angel thought that it wouldn’t be too hard to find a job once he got out. He believed he had come a long way. At eighteen he hadn’t been able to read or write. He wet his bed and suffered from uncontrollable outbursts of anger. At forty-seven he had studied at the college level. He told me he had read several thousand books. He earned numerous certificates while incarcerated — a Vocational Appliance Repair Certificate, a Certificate of Proficiency of Computer Operator, a Certificate in Library Training, an IPA (Inmate Program Assistant) II Training Certificate, and several welding certifications — but in the outside world these credentials counted for little.
"Irrelevant," Angel said. "They might as well be toilet paper."
How a convicted murderer prepares for a job interview (via Kottke)
I think about telling my dad, who worked for 46 years on the railroad, ‘Somebody offered me $100,000 to put my song in a movie, and I said no because it’s a stupid movie.’ He would want to kill me. The idea of selling out is only understandable to people of privilege.
Death, heaven, bread, breath and the sea
to scare me
But I too will be fed by
the other food
that I know nothing
of, the breath
the sea of
when the almond does not
blossom and the grasshopper drags itself along
But if You can make a star from nothing You can raise me up
(Source: Washington Post)
The activists, whose numbers include architects and city planners, replied that they only wanted to open a conversation about the design of the park. They wanted to see the plans and understand them. They wanted to know whether the ground level really had to be raised by several metres of rubble, and whether the park could be redesigned to incorporate some part of the gardens. What if part of the land was reserved for a playground, while another part integrated the bostan, perhaps using elevated walkways or transparent partitions? Couldn’t the bostans be used not to obstruct the park but to enhance it—to make it a thing of beauty and meaning? Didn’t they belong not to the Fatih municipality but to the whole city, and even the world?
Alessandra Ricci, an archaeologist at Koç University, has argued that the bostans should be protected under the UNESCO provisions for Intangible Cultural Heritage. “Intangible heritage” is a relatively recent category, and poses a tantalizing paradox: What if it’s possible, by relinquishing our grip on physical objects, to arrive at a truer sense of historical place? A head of lettuce in Yedikule in 2013 isn’t physically the same head of lettuce that grew there in 1013, but it’s still a functional lettuce. In a way, the Yedikule bostans give us a sense of history that we can’t get from, say, the Yedikule dungeons, which are physically the same dungeons that stood there in the fifteenth century but which no longer function the same way. UNESCO does currently recognize the Istanbul land walls as a historical site; yet it’s a marvellous and still underacknowledged gift to be able to look at those walls and also see, smell, and taste the actual living descendants of Byzantine lettuce.
After all, when we only visit fortresses, palaces, dungeons, and temples, we miss a big part of the story. As Ricci put it in an e-mail, “We are now being ‘forced’ to associate the land walls of Istanbul with conquests, wars, assaults, triumphs—e.g., the 1453 Panorama Museum—but in reality most of the life of the walls was about something else, and the bostan is a testimony of this.” Erdoğan, who frequently invokes Turkey’s Ottoman past, opened the 1453 Panorama Museum, which is devoted to the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople. He has successfully fashioned himself as an Ottoman-style ruler: tough, ambitious, grandiose, the kind of guy who plants a hundred and fifty-two thousand flowers overnight just to make a point.
And yet, history is a multifaceted thing. It’s possible to envision an altogether different Ottoman politics: one valuing adaptability, compromise, and a highly developed aesthetic sense. It’s worth noting in this context that when the Ottomans conquered Constantinople, they didn’t destroy the Hagia Sofia but converted it into a mosque. Mimar Sinan, the greatest Ottoman architect, designed the minarets and added pillars to reinforce the dome against earthquakes. Then, drawing both on the knowledge he had gained from the Hagia Sofia and on his own particular talent, Mimar Sinan went on to build some of the most beautiful mosques the world had ever seen.
Istanbul’s Troubled Gardens: Yedikule’s Lettuce - Elif Batuman