Chapters 33 and 34 of Istanbul

In the previous chapters that we had read, Pamuk focuses on the melancholy of the city, as a whole. In chapters 33 and 34, he seems to open up and allow the reader to see the personal melancholy that radiates from himself. Pamuk seems to go back and forth on his opinion of himself and his true nature. He once mentions that he thinks that everyone looking at him hated him and that they had every right to do so. It seems to me like Pamuk is allowing the city to take him under and the melancholy of the city is being reflected through his own confusion and anxiety of sorts. The city seems to be split into various parts of East and West and like it can’t make its mind up between growing into something new or maintaining the essence of its own true nature.

Overall, this book was utterly beautiful and gave the reader insight as to the mysterious air about Istanbul.

Istanbul: Chapters 10, 11, 15 and the Taksim Protests in Istanbul

To begin, I’ll start with the few chapters assigned in Istanbul. We see a similar theme of melancholy throughout the chapters (it’s literally the name of Chapter 10) and it seems to me that Pamuk is finding a way to explain why he feels this melancholy associated with Istanbul and its “lost golden age”. He mentions how the feeling is incorporated not only in the music and poetry of Istanbul but in the way of life. The next chapter, however, seems to focus more specifically on the beauty that the melancholy inspired in the author while recalling his favorite poets and how the almost tangible emotion pushed them to find their own voice. The next chapter takes the view of a youth (later to be one of Istanbul’s greatest writers) that started in Istanbul and later wrote of the “impulse” transition into Westernization. While doing this, Rasim was able to balance the melancholy and high spirits that he struggled with. Something that wasn’t really seen before.

The article had some parallels with the chapters in the context of some yearning for their golden age back. However, while the book seems to constantly be looking back at the past, the article seems to suggest that the protest was fighting for the future.

Extra Virgin

Reading about the cultural history of olive oil was really interesting. I know that I normally don’t think about products having any mythic or cultural past and I think it’s a nice perspective to look at. As someone who throughly enjoys the biological side of things, I was really interested in the technoscientific discourses that argue the health aspect to olive oil. I had no idea that there was an actual study on the postwar standard of living and that the massive amount of intake olive oil correlated with the low heart disease rates of the Greeks due to the “good” fat, which can be found in avocados as well! The whole intrinsic qualities guaranteeing the “rightness” of these scientific claims was something that I didn’t really agree with but since it was presented after the study, I can live with it! I guess I have too. Another interesting point was the tension between artisans and the companies that mass produce olive oil. I definitely think this is something that you could find in almost any region but focusing specifically on this product allows the reader to look at Mediterranean as unit in itself since olive oil is a connecting factor. Overall, it was a really nice article for being solely on olive oil!