We Are Alone: Selections from Peyami Safa (IV)

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In Turkey, novels were published in the newspaper pages, so was Yalnızız. The text: “Our new novel: Yalnızız is today on our second page. Other than the context of the novel, there is a prolog is starting you to make understand the great excitement and meanings of the work in a vivid and deep night adventure type. Certainly, follow it! “

Peyami Safa was a columnist in the transition between the Ottoman Turkey and Republican Turkey or between World Wars and the Cold War. You can call it what time was useful for you. However, we must remember that his novels were a cornerstone to understand him and his century better. As a novelist, he emphasized Turkey’s issues in psychological, sociological and philosophical ways. This is because he had a deep knowledge with regard to these branches of social sciences. He had already read Freud, Hegel, Nietzsche, Durkheim, and Montessori when he was filling his column and even interpreted sociological urban theories in 1950s Istanbul. He was an admirer and translator of Pitirim Sorokin who was an anti-communist Russian sociologist and established the Department of Sociology at  Harvard University for the first time.

Yalnızız was written in 1949 and emphasized the problems of Turkey as well as the World in many pages. The main theme was a typical love-story like many others but the male character (Samim) was an intellectual person and interpreted his time with a literary and philosophic wording. He made sure that we must remember our inner side against Capitalist or Communist ideology and thus underlined the spirituality of human being. Otherwise, we will eliminate ourselves due to our inventions, human-made ideologies.

The piece, I attempted to translate is from the last chapter of Yalnızız.

Samim wanted to write a Utopia under the name of “Simeranya” under the influence of More and Bacon. In Simeranya, Samim solves the fundamental problems of humanity from education to the economy. Simeranya was quite valuable for Turkish philosophical history because it was a very early example of utopian literature in Turkey. In the chapter, I chose, Samim found how to begin Simeranya in an unexpected manner by complaining about the human type of the 20th century to his readers who were also the people of the same age.

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Yalnızız’s publication under the Ministry of National Education in Turkey in the 1960s

***

O human!

I dedicate this book to you. A big wind runs over your head. The century, which begins with false dawn, is darkening, and as your only hope, the most powerful source is not the uranium, but the flame that will rise from the explosion of your terrible destruction by breaking away from the matter trapped in your soul.

O unlucky!

You’ve never been so foreign, so fascinated and so hostile to yourself in any time. You don’t have only your soul among everything you look for, examine, carve, get down to deep, dig in your lab.

Your terrific heedlessness (gaflet), which began with the thought of the spirit as a puff of brain cells, put a curtain of blindness into your eyes, which looked for the greatest lesson in the blood and tear cascades of the two enormous world wars you’ve seen in thirty years.

Leave this “matter”, strangle your genius of measure, be sated with your physics and maths curiosity, expel that quantity idea, branch into yourself, run after yourself, find it, find yourself, find your soul, find, love, know, remember see. See in yourself your Allah. Go back to yourself, look at yourself, behave yourself. Look for the spirit miracles that will help you eliminate your inner contradictions and save you from grappling with yourself, as well as technical miracles, each born of a stupid love of comfort, each preparing a more terrible world war.

Believe in the spiritual and the sacred. Ashamed of thinking so small about them! Throw the naturalist methods that keep you from even thinking that every sensible depth has been revealed, and throw it as lice (bit) robes. Do not stay in the closed world of the five senses of perception that narrows the limits of the mind’s understanding that you rightly condemn in the medieval pastor!

Cross the arş (the highest floor in the sky in Turkish, Persian and Arabic),                            Skip earth, cross the Sidra (the last point in the sky for human).
See what you have in the Mavara (the metaphysical [unseen and far] world).

He was walking around the room. Suddenly a need broke the chain of excitement.

***

  • This is taken from Safa’s “Yalnızız” published by Ötüken Publications. 
  • The book’s link for sale (in Turkish): Yalnızız (Kitapyurdu)

 

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