Time compresses when you're having fun. Or when you're in pain, or for that matter when you're doing anything at all. The pictures snow in, last I said something I was still in Belgrade ; meanwhile we've gone through the Serbian city of Nis, the Bulgarian city of Sofia and the Turkish city of Edirne. They melt in the mists, like Calvino's cities ; words you've never heard before, items you never knew existed fall back without any kind of plop into the informous nothingness that always stored them ; and likely ever will. Oh, but will it ?
No, it will not. And what were they ? I have money in my pockets, all sorts and manner. It goes with the cities, respectively. It magically only works in some, by rules that irritate the spirit, an irritation which informs the desire for uniformity. The irritation that spawned essences in the first place, that unpleasant tickle on the inside of Joe's skull. The fat, insecure girl behind the desk was all smiles, "how are you doing ?" "Not so great, but maybe we fix that." came the unlikely response. She's filled the half acre lobby with her body odour, an acrid armpit sadness ; the four star hotel has gilt trims on the showers. There's a garage and everything else. She looks like she could make someone the perfect live-in wife, and would, too, given a chance. Half a chance. She'd love nothing more ; she's warm, and she's desperate. If she ate well, if she exercised, if she weren't completely hopeless the generous veneer of female youth would make her attractive, while it lasts. Long enough to make the sale for long enough that it defies memory, at any rate. Practically forever ; in fact... it's what forever actually it is.
Yet we're in Bulgaria. The gilt sink doesn't drain, the gilt shower doesn't drain either. Their respective controls move hopelessly, producing no effect, while the gilt smiles on, unmoved, a cold glint of dysfunction. I call front desk, she offers to move me. I grunt. "How about you send someone up here ?"
So she does. An unlikely maid, lanky and by all external cues inadequate, but promptly sent. Bulgaria doesn't smell of roses, not anymore ; it smells of Bogota, of 1970s pollution, it carries the sharp, metallic scent of a fork off the main chain, old, incurable, abandoned by all but some. An immense town built out of prefab concrete around no center, an oasis of Latin America. There's no hope for Bulgaria ; and though she learned quite passible English, there's no hope for her. Yet she calls me, very convinced desperation in her voice, "there's a problem, would I come downstairs ?". I go, by now it's obvious I'll have to have all the stuff lugged to a different room -- what sort of four star hotels are these where the guest has to discover the plumbing's dead ?
I find her terrified, the euro bills I gave her earlier staring her down joyously. "The machine", she indicates, "says no good". Indeed it does, she shows me. Could I not credit card ? Leva ? I shrug and fish a few old 50s off the thumb-thick wad. Those are ok, the machine confirms. What sort of hotel is this, where they keep in service fake bill detection machines so very old, so woefully inadequate they choke on the newest bills ? And what sort of monetary union is this, where they print new bills each fucking year, season, every time it's someone's birthday, such that nobody has even a hope in hell of being able to distinguish genuine coinage from rambunctious, creative forgery ? Look at the damned things, almost each year the numbers move, typeface changes, the security elements are reshuffled... The European Union as implemented in Python to be run in java, an unlikely retracing of the late Roman empire's sorrows.
And now... now I am seated. I'm seated by a small table, assorted nothings peppered on it. Preparing it, contriving it... The loving Bosphorus Sun strikes us all sideways, its golden rays land in that most warming manner : horizontal. I've never known a Sun as feminine as this, it's perhaps the one true characteristic of Istanbul : the one place where the Sun's really a woman, and she loves you. There's nothing on the beds, the maids have worked them. Nothing except a plushie each : blue elephant on the left, white goose that used to be gray goose that used to be white goose on the further left... the maids always come upon a correct sorting of plushies to beds, and then stick to it. The girls don't, they mix and
munch match a lot more, but the maids are always very regular - from town to town different regularities, but in each town unsparkling womanhood's decisive : thus and this way, it goes.
If snow be white then their breasts be dun...
My vast empire of Internet funnybux readily converted to "universal" fiat paper, universal in no way besides its dysfunction, it in turn converted to local fiat paper, stable, unrepentant, to be traded out for lamp chops that you ingest and thereby convert into... it's really a great shit machine, the world. A grandiose shit, snot & spunk reciprocation engine. City money, hope money, thought money... it's only money. It organizes activity, it just can't say which way, that's all. It'll do something with it, you know that much for sure, going in. And you know what it'll eventually be, too.
But we depress : the cities, I was saying, like their monies, fill in a structure that doesn't properly speaking exist ; they dangle, very leaves, off the perceptible branches of an absent tree. I suppose they call this "democracy", but they understand nothing and think it some kind of virtue.
Ogni città riceve la sua forma dal utero a cui si oppone.
Perhaps you need some staff ? You reach into the storage of staff where staff's stowed away waiting for a better day, and you pull your need out. Oh great hand, come down from abo-o-ove, and pick as your weenie the one that I lo-o-ove...
Above & below : triple salad double plus unsoup day. We're in Nis, and we're hungry because... well right now I don't remember why. But we were Hungary, okay ? By which ofcourse I mean Srbja.
Above & below : verrauchen boten in all the rooms. Like a rauchen verboten but vice-versa, right ?
Oh, and there's a helpful fire escape plan. You know, just in case.
Above & below : a bunch of complicated Serbian concerns, including Broz Tito's drug connections, alleged assassination carbombs in tiny inconsequential villages and indignation at something to do with immigration and small sums of money.
Truth be told, Serbia disappointed this time. The decay, dismissed during a quick stay in Spring as, you know, imagining things, meanwhile well confirmed itself. It ain't what it used to be ; not nearly what it used to be. It's a lot closer to the sadness of pantsuitlands these days, with vague, mere remnants still clinging on to the outer, smaller towns like dump-adjacent plastic bags in dump-adjacent tree branches. In the city though, between the "clubs" with no parking lotsi, the completely closed riverboat scene, the "all the bars are in this quarter mile squared" except "all the bars" means "like five sad vaguely-irish pubs, really closer to ratholes than anything else"... The excellent yoghurt that filled me with exciting on the way over to Serbia a decade ago's gone. It was everywhere, now it's nowhere. The PEKARA's survive, but in name only : they all sell the exact same fornetti-brand sludge. Belgrade used to have five to ten thousand different public bakeries, you could pick and choose slight differences in hand styles among actual women's hands. No more, it's all refuse now, industrialized refuse. I hate to admit it, but Serbia moved much, much closer to Argentina in the past decade than I'd ever have imagined possible. I actually see no reason to ever go back, which strikes me as inconceivable.
But they did stop beating the women, manifestly. They're aware it's a problem, too -- the clues abound, one fine example being the portly gent who couldn't help himself but had to inquire with me as to the purpose of the leather stick across my table, in the town's oldest, best known and most respected cafe. "It's for women." He guffawed hearthily, at the fat blob next to him, "For women. Of course." he vocalized, transparently with the intension of "see ? there's no way this was ambiguous at any point." "If they misbehave, they get the stick." I confirmed for him. He shook my hand on his way out like I was the long time trainer of his first love soccer team.
They know. Supposedly Serbia has no intention of joining the EU ; but in all practical sense they alredy did. They sure as fuck imported all the problems already, da fuck difference does it make anymore.
A sad state of affairs.
Try and remember : beat the women. Today. Now. If you don't know what for, don't worry about it : they do.
Above & below : skull tower in the centre of Nis. This is a medieval construction, resulting from a bunch of beheadings the Turks did at some point in desperation, as a hail mary attempt to find some common ground with these nuts. It didn't take -- that time. Nis itself is somewhat pleasant, and yes it reminded me of the old Belgrade I knew and loved, in the process making the decay even more inescapably visible.
Above & below : ruins in Nis. The standing constructions are almost certainly Veneto period or older, though the local "archeologists" & assorted such "specialists" don't seem to have figured it out. There's also some post-byzantine imitative works that may be as old as perhaps 1000ish, a perhaps interesting exercise in cargo-cult civitas.
Above & below : best preserved mosq in Serbia, in a light kitten sauce.
Over the fortress wall : lens flare.
Kitten takes in monument to lipstick. Hence the expression, "looking like a cat at a lipstick statue".
Can you imagine a time this place was cool ?
Going through Europe has a lot in common with going through a dead parent's closet.
Suppose you never met your mother -- she died in a car crash slash shootout dash overdose comma cancer whatever it was, when you were say three years old. You don't remember her. You don't remember anything about her... except, perhaps, this aching hole. A space, negative space but nevertheless space... or at any rate, what used to be a space. What used to be a space at some well past point in time.
There was some room there, long, long ago ; but it was long, long hence covered. Stuffed, filled in. It was choked out by layers upon layers of the fertile muck of sadness and the bitter grime of anger, attaching from all sides and insides. Upon them grew, impenetrable, the jungle of regret. Above it, the dull, gray sun of melancholy sometimes shines. Not that often, really.
People have told you about her, and so at the best of times there's a core of commonality and a large warehouse of odds and ends, junk and junklets you can't really piece together -- none of which have anything to do with you, not really.
It hurts, and it's not going away : she was never your mother in any practical sense. Obviously. They somehow always avoid pointing that out, though, which makes everything else they say rather dubious. It sounds suspect, I mean... if they're that fucking clued out, what else can be reasonably expected of them ? Maybe they all say she was short and in reality she had been nine feet tall her whole life, it just somehow escaped their unreliable, self-absorbed, interest-driven notice. Yet that much is clear : some woman at some point existed. And then... she didn't.
Time passes, and you grow old. It goes, it flies away. What is it, anyway ? With or without the hole aching inside, the days and hours and weeks and minutes snow everybody in just the same. The one thing all last year's women have in common, differ they all they might : each one's a year older now. Each one ; and so you understand more of the absent woman now, by and by, through the unlikely mediation of the world itself. Life is pain, and sweat, and paying bills, and making love to a man you don't love anymore. Life is dreams, that don't come true, and nobody prints your name in the paper until the day you die. Life. This much you have in common with the missing woman : she at some point lived ; like you at this point live. She at some later point died, and maybe it's not that far off ; but looking back life's always life, and like yours, hers : pain, and sweat, and paying bills, and nobody remembering thing one about you, not past whatever they thought at the time broke their arm or picked their pocket.
It's good enough, and if it isn't, well... it'll just have to be good enough anyway. But then you find it. Maybe your father kept it, maybe her father kept it. Maybe it just kept itself. Who knows, but there it is, a chest or trunk, an armoire or a purse, whatever it is. In it, there's things. There's maybe clothes or hairpins, or shoes or nosegays or who knows what -- there it is, things, items for the outside, the close outside. Just like your things. What are all your things to you ? Well, here's hers. They sat, somewhere, like things do. They sat, and waited. Though they can't tell you what they were waiting for, yet here they are. What were they for ?
So I ask you again. I ask you this one more time, and I will never ask you again after this : can you imagine a time this place was cool ?
Supposedly Europe's eternal ; the trouble's that it's never the same one.
This will give a fair summary of Sofia : to get through a little under a mile, these muppets need upwards of half an hour. Their lives are spent not merely at pre-modern speeds, but outright pre-human, as a reflection of the simple fact that their existences are not merely pre-modern, but in fact pre-rational (and it's not even at all clear there's any sort of proto-rational in that pre-rational of Bulgaria). They have more in common with simple brownian motion and cilliate micro-organisms flagellating themselves into a tizzy throughout liquid media than they have with any sort of directed existence. The disadvantage of living among idiots is the stupidity tax : when you have to organise economic activity with idiots you end up spending more than if you had sane people you could employ. This is everywhere, and it just multiplies itself upon itself forever -- a highwayful of people who drive well gets home a good half hour before a highwayful of people who drive "clever" ; a potful of crabs requires no lid to make delicious dinner ; mice have been caught in mice traps for longer than mice scholars can trace most ancient mice-ian history.
Sofia is, in all fairness, a spurious conglomeration of storage facilities. They store bipeds in brutalist structures leftover from the 70s and everything else in metallic structures of more recent vintage. There's nothing else there, and absolutely no reason for the charade to continue -- if Sofia were flattened into inexistence tomorrow exactly nothing would be lost at all. On the contrary -- the field saddened under the pointless burden now would probably let out a sigh of relief.
As you now realise, "dur" is how you say stop in Turkish, hence the title of this article.
Mosq in the mist.
This rose smelled wunderbar ; certainly one of the better I ever tried. Complex, cascading, unforced, full of a sorrowful kind of personality like an alphorn's crying in the settling evening mists.
These grave markers have excellent hats! Why's this not occured to anyone before, or hence ? Grave markers should have hats -- not that such technology worked any better for they interred here than anywhere else ; but for aesthetic considerations. There's a lot less to technology than meets the eye anyway ; whereas...
A garden, full of all the fruit that ever were, or ever could be, and a few that've never been, yet, or anymore, all ripe and ready for the plucking, all firm yet tender, all icons representative, abstract perfection of their own kind, and in themselves sufficient, stretching as far as the eye cares to see, in all directions, forever.
A garden, full of fruit, ripe, firm and tender, perfection of their own kind, as far as the eye sees, forever.
A garden, full, perfection, forever.
This bridge is actually named for a Romanian guy. It even says, on a little plaque not depicted, "the so-and-so Romanian guy". As I was pointing this out, two local kids on a local vespa broke out in joyous salutations ; the woman said they had been excitedly following me from a distance for a while at that point. What I was starting to say as they passed was that for some reason the Turks were always very impressed with the Romanians, and always liked them very well. The latter could never fucking stand them, ever, at all (with notable exceptions, take say Stephen's political testamentii) for some reason.
Naked bronze dancer in Edirne.
The shop is tiny ; in a three meter corridor they've snuck a table to seat four, and across the narrow way a table to seat two. We're eating every lamb thing they have on the menu crumpled shoulder to shoulder ; the bread, while baked to resemble the industrialized sadness in the West, is nevertheless made by bayan hands. Why do they strive to copy the West ? They do it in all the ways they shouldn't, while they miss out all the ways they should.
There's a guy at the door, working it, literally as an instrument ; he'll let you in, or ask you to wait, in any case open it for you. Or I guess not. The ideea of an unmanned doorway strikes me as not merely neglect here, to their eyes, in their heuristic scheme, but outright decay. Yet why not have more space ? "Because if you do, you'll have to drive". They don't drive so much, they walk a lot. But why not have open doors ? "Because if you do, all sorta gypos will blow in and bother the custom". Then why copy the Western bread ?! "Because..."
They have shops here, you understand me, which consist of someone having ordered random items from the walmart catalogue, dumped them in the street to be boinked and dusted and kicked around for six months. You're invited to buy a, say, electric engine. From, directly, the tiny shelf in the small corner shop. He's got... some models. No papers. Not really so much in the way of symbology, part numbers, anything. You just pick the engine you want, what, like you pick a wife : you look at it and decide. "Is this the right engine for me, for my needs ?"
No part of this activity is economic in any sense, why the fuck would I pay any kind of a premium for the collected disadvantages and inconveniences of a) having to physically go to a shop wherein b) some random jumble is confused for an inventory such that c) I can't order by part number and d) any item available has been handled more times than fleamarket fare ? None of this is worth money. It's not a matter of "not worth money to you, MP", it's a matter of "not worth money" at all, not in the cognitive structure of which these items appartain, to which these items belong. The industrial process they're a part of consists of drawing up some plans, starting from some goals, calculating the actual needs, and then spitting out a precise part number. Then you overnigh electric engine XYZ-777, that's exactly possessed of the attributes your design requires and none others, and it's delivered to your workshop Wednesday. Adding more power's a cost, not a benefit ; adding more anything's not an improvement, but a deadweightening, having to go there and pick it up is sufficient overage to perhaps kill the entire project. Turkish industry (at least at this directly perceptible, social level) works with an efficiency penalty well over 100% constructed out of all these little leaks here and there. It can never possibly be competitive, leaving aside how it's fun to watch -- much like, I suppose, how the white man's affairs these days appear from a Chinese point of view ; and, as the whole charade proceeds from fundamental misunderstanding of what things even are, I expect no improvement to be had on the short, middle, long or any other kind of term.
But the display approach works well enough for consumer items, so Argentinization's I guess just around the corner. All it takes is for the current generation of Sisyphuses to die out, for these men all about willing to go la petitiii for expansion vessels and electrovalves in order to then convert inch to metric gauge three or four times per assemblage and in the end make something that works almost as well as an industrial product (as well as it's maintained by a small village's worth of on-call personnel) and was absolutely not worth making in the first place. They're old already, they'll be dead soon, and at that point there's entirely nothing left of Turkey worth the mention. I'd have never understood it, too, had I not seen the end result of this main societal series with my own eyes ; but now that I have, the whole phenomenology makes ample sense to me.
There's massive Ataturk worship going on everywhere, up 2-300% from when I was here lastiv, fifteen years ago -- transparently for the reason of the needs of the present dude's personality cult. He's not there, anywhere, explicitly ; but implicitly the shadow's everywhere, "that ataturk, what a great man, [and erdogan too]". Yet he's just as old as they ; and soon he'll be just as old as Mubarak and Gaddafi. What then ?
The exact same thing, of course -- the redditards taking selfies in front of a large wediditreddit plaque thus feeding their own hallucinations of involvement and relevancy to the world (which, in all fairness, were pretty hungry). Muste la arat irrespective, Turkey's got a severe problem : industry moved from under their feet, leaving it with Clinton's workforce : a large chunk of very disciplined folk in disciplines no longer functional, not really all that eager to retool because, in point of fact, the only way to wring such discipline out of such large sections of mostly unselected humanity is to make it part of their identity. Turkey's leaf got stranded, and regrinds aren't easy.
Pretty much every shop has a cat, and phone shops are shops, aren't they ? Telefonu ticaret, wut, the turkcell concept store. It has a cat in it.
Two lira comes to about forty cents. The fact that they don't need cages, however, now that's priceless. And no, they don't need cages, mull on that for a moment. Great benefits to diversity, right ?
I will leave the story of how poor Sinan lost his last two teeth for some other time.
As you've perhaps guessed, we're in Istanbul by now (no, before it wasn't Istanbul, it was Edirne, which is different). The dogs are there, guarding their master's shop. With the morning he will come, and undo the locks, and deal with the early custom. Then sit, and drink a cup of tea, and feed them, and pat them on the head. They'll sit together for a spell, and think their thoughts, intermingledly : the dogs guarding the shop will think their dog thoughts while the man manning the shop will think his man thoughts. There are great benefits to diversity ; you just have nothing to do with anything because you're stupid, idle and impudent to top it off, therefore your words meaningless, your limbs of less service than a paraplegic's and your eyes worse for you than blind eyes for the blind.
Naked flesh dancer, in Istanbul. They used to have lots of these ; but nowadays... not so much.
- Seriously now, what the fuck is even the point of having a club at all, in the first place, if the young sluts can't judge the older gents affluence ? As the spurious USistani some girl a girl aspirated aspirated somehow (I honestly don't remember, this skinny chick with nothing to offer was just talking at my table at some point is all I got) pointed out, "oh, I guess that's all on Tindr". Whatever the fuck, in an alt world where the internet actually does anything I'm sure they're working that ass off on Tindr, sure, sure. In the actual world we live in, they just grow fat, "freed" from the obligation to strut some stuff to match the beemer. Empowerment for the whale within all women, what a great idea! Did you see the latest made-for-netflix soaptrocity ?! [↩]
- "socotindu din toții mai puternicu pre turcu și mai înțeleptu" [↩]
- Ancient custom, sending people over to some girl's house to talk to her parents for you [↩]
- We briefly visited hence, but never with a view to such lofty considerations. [↩]