Hüzün in Istanbul


“Hüzün happens when we invest too much in worldly pleasures and material gain. If you hadn’t involved yourself so deeply in this transitory world, you wouldn’t care so much about worldly losses. Hüzün is a spiritual anguish we feel because we can not be close enough to Allah, because we can not do enough for Allah in this world. Hüzün is also when someone has no interest in worldly possessions, but suffers from grief, emptiness and inadequacy because he can never be close enough to Allah. He suffers because he has not suffered enough. Hüzün is in high esteem.

Nothing came to fill the spiritual void. Everyone talks openly about math, success at school, soccer and having fun, but not basic questions of existence – love, compassion, religion, the meaning of life, jealousy, hatred (in trembling confusion and painful solitude). The distance between us (the author and very rich and stupid) was not quite as great as I thought: giving painting to museum or following their passions and living timid mediocre lives. My father wanted to warn me of life of unhappiness I was heading to. A recipe to keep small disaster from me: quick adventure (imagine other Orhan), escape into my second world, paint, fall into a disaster of my own, pick a fight with my brother or count ships.

The main thing I learned at school was not enough to accept the facts of life but you had to be dazzled by their beauty too.

Why I liked painting:

1. Pleasure to draw because it allowed to create miracles everyone appreciated. Get love and praise from others.

2. Escape into another better world.

3. Smell and tools and doing.

4. Create a better world, where you are happy (and perhaps others).

If I prepared to be as bad as I could be I’d be able to paint whenever I liked. Comfort I took in defeat, the damage, the bruises, but then I thought that one day I would do something great.

I forgot the world and played about with my melancholy, its darkness would begin to fade away (when he wrote). Father said that the best thing that a person could do was to live by his own lights – money could never be the object, but if happiness depended on it, it could be a means to that end.

It seemed to me that while we would never find answers to these fundamental questions, it was good for us to ask them anyway, that the happiness and meaning resided in places we would never find and perhaps did not wish to find, but the pursuit (answers, pleasure, emotional depth) mattered no less than the attainment, the asking as important like memories plucked from dreams.”

My favorite parts from “Istanbul” by Orhan Pamuk.

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