Strait_v1n3_1971-10

and warm embraces equally exposed on the street; the threat of too much response faces me everywhere without lifelong exposure how can a western puritan be sure he will not respond over- much to pain and rapture? The inoculation of experience gives a natural resistance , but me fresh arrived the won- der of love confronts till I seethe with unexpelled desire to mingle and mix my breath with the breath of the city : Great Scott! pomegranates, breadfruit, lemons, rotting persirnmins, head lettuce : color shouts, my head reels, spins.

POLITICS & POETICS (cont'd from page 22)

A Or, to turn to what for me is a more serious subject- - verywhere one travels in the world today , the basic economic tension grows out of the insistence (within a nation) by working class people, at the low end of the class spectrum, on their right to social parity; or out of the insistence (between nations) by the so-called "developing nations" on their right to full economic parity , despite the frantic clutch of world inter- national bankers, and despite the grip of economic colonial- ism. In the United States, there are plenty of symbols for emerging economic forces, but I understand the phenomenon better in Istanbul where it stares at me with a new face. The fact of social cast~ comes home to me with a new force when I realize that (given my parentage and economic status at birth) if I had been born in Turkey , I would probably not be a college professor but a farmer in some remote village, or per- haps even a hamal, carrying back-breaking loads on a street in a city where even today, much of the toting is done on human backs . The hamal straps his shoes on top of his load and then shoulders the lot ; barefooted, he walks or runs, stoop-shouldered under the weight not of his heavy load only but of years shouldering loads from the time when he was a boy ; he has no expectation now of another trade, he is resigned past resignation, his dumb , unanguished animal eyes meet mine and give back a thin blue film of no sight. without believing in them; how can you build democracy out of such refuse? The ignorant electorate cast their votes for the worst parties; it will take years to change the hamal brute into a man •· far easier to make him a hamal of the State; so they have in China, but such a crying shame: I cry in my soul for such a slow and costly mutation. The boy's eyes. meeting mine, do not know what they ask for. Istanbul itself, with its sensuousness, its lush sensuality, reminds me of the inhibitions I have inherited by being born into a puritan culture. In Istanbul I have to be careful. The sense of liberation is too profound. I am like a man suddenly taking opium, who has never taken drugs before. I am swept off my feet . I have none of the resistance that is built up over a lifetime by people for whom Istanbul is their native city. I simply don't know how to behave. e Great Scott! who put my spirit inside this packet of flesh to exult there But this boy is another matter : fifteen years old, A he raises his curious eyes, his head is high , '9ttirust up ahead of his load; he does not believe in his heart yet that he has before him weeks, months, years, until his feet and his fresh looks are equally calloused . His father was a hamal and his grandfather; how can he hope to do better Suffrage will give him the right to vote, and he will elect men who ride to power on old slogans

On my first Fulbright mission to Turkey, Istanbu! took on, in a very personal sense, the symbolic meaning of my indoctrination in a novel (though ancient) culture . I realized that when I returned home I would not be simply an American. One day I stood in the middle of Galata Bridge and felt that I had taken a long spiritual journey , not only of miles but of centuries. In a wonderful and somewhat fearful way , I felt that I had come home. Beginning meets end here in anachronistic riot. On the Galata peasants from Gaziantep, Islamic episodes out of history older than their religion or our few Christian cycles, dissolve in this crowd; Europe and Asia mix not in dress only, those scriptural faces,

anguished and beautiful with the honed beauty of suffering which should never have existed, never should exist to carve such features. Anatolian houses, ancient wooden firetraps, wind weathered, with blank windows have such faces; people tell me they are surprisingly comfortable inside. • -And Anatolian peasants stem the whirl of"western traffic: the green pedestrian light scares the women as much as the red light, one caught my arm in fear and pulled me from midstreet

and burn? Istanbul is a spurt of color and love, raw sores

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