A few things were not mentioned in the previous posts. After our visit to Ozdere, Dilek and Zeynep helped me to catch a bus to Selcuk. They patiently waited until the bus arrived, explained the driver about where I wanted to reach. The drive to Selcuk and further to Sirince was as scenic as one can wish for, and more. Here, I want to recall my impression of meeting the organizers and the participants of the summer school.
Young organizers and their teacher: The summer school on Object-Oriented Ontology was organized in Sirince by a group of students and young graduates from a wide range of disciplines: philosophy, civil engineers, media studies, etc. This site in Sirince, has grown to be a popular destination for organizing summer camps around various subjects. One of the first such camps to be established was called the Mathematics Village. Today there are three new camps completely self-organized and built by young graduates and students who wish to develop this site into an energetic locale of learning beyond the university setting. The organizers of the OOO summer school call themselves as Nomadic Thought Group in English, and even they have acquired some land develop their own semi-institutional camp in the vicinity of the Mathematics Villa. A poet or a writer has also carved into the mountains his own sanctuary, which looks like an ancient ruin. Apparently he was also persecuted for carving the mountain. All in all, this site has all kinds of energies shaping it over the last twenty years. It is akin to seeing a civilization come to life. And the presence of the magnificent mountains, purple sunsets, pine trees, oak trees, Cypress trees, olive trees, figs, grape wines, and so on, gives the setting an abundance that matches the ambition of these free organizers. One notable thing about the organizers is that the average age was around 25. And they have been doing these summer schools for the last six years, which means, some of the organizers were as young as 16 year old when they joined the organization, and more importantly, they felt the need to freely organize and learn as freely as possible. Another impressive aspect was to notice 17 or 18 year old philosophy students formulating really rich questions and arguments, which simply demonstrated their commitment and the breadth of readings that they came from -very inspiring. For this particular summer school, the group was accompanied by professor of philosophy named Hakan Attay. I have benefitted tremendously from Hakan’s mannerisms and ideas in the short moments of interaction that we had in the camp. It was Hakan who was responsible to invite Graham Harman to participate in the summer school. Hakan is currently working on the translation of The Rise of Realism together with his Deleuzian colleague also named Hakan.
On the first day of the summer school we were advised to consider this as a serious academic or intellectual time and not a vacation. Which we all concurred. However, the organizers themselves, who became very good friends by the end of the summer school, were the ones who organized most of the parties in the evenings. To be honest, those were the moments when ideas flowed more freely than wine or beer. More importantly it upheld the spirit of the possibility of organizing and gathering together and perhaps even dissolving together in each other’s thoughts and emotions.
Mid-career Students: One of the interesting things about the summer school was, that if the average age of the organizers was around 25 years, then that of participants would be nothing less than 35 or 37. Some of my colleagues were 55 years old, some were 25 or 27, some others like me in their mid 30s, and some others in the mid 40s. Regardless of our age, everyone was focused and enthusiastic to exchange what they have been doing with OOO in their own disciplines. Even if they are not, then they were here to learn about OOO. After the lecture sessions, and particularly after dinner, those few nights of free exchange of thoughts and counter thoughts were very more than nourishing and also reassuring.
I will try to recall the works and projects of a few colleagues that I am able to remember. My roommate Ceyhan (pronounce Jehaan) is the Chair of cognitive science department in Ankara. His project was to develop an ontology of cognition or cognitive psychology. His study on various aspects of his subject led him to the realization that he was mostly pondering about the key topics of any metaphysics: space, time, will, etc. Another wonderfully enthusiastic colleague was Bedis. Bedis is an urban sociologist, who was untimely expelled from her university. Apparently in the last few years, this has been a pattern across Turkey, to expel professors who might appear to be engaging with projects that do not align with the state’s framework. Regardless of this situation, Bedis is continuing her practice of being an independent urban sociologist. She is currently working on an ambitious project of writing the hundred year history of independent Turkey with help of hundred objects. Bedis is also collaborating with several other sociologists and historians to put together this ambitious project. In a similar line, another wonderfully excited colleagues were Elif and Daniele -both of them designers by profession. Elif’s PhD work was focused on the analysing all the different kinds of cigarette packages that were produced in the last hundred years across Turkey. The amount of, range, sizes, shapes, colours, imageries, ways of opening, etc. that one tobacco company was able to produce over the years is simply astonishing. Elif also showed the videos she had shot of a cigarette package collector, who had stored all the packs with utmost care and in pristine conditions. I might perhaps never forget that part of the video where the thickly bearded collector gently began tapping on top of a cigarette pack until two or three of the stubs smoothly started lifting up almost effortlessly. It was nothing less than poetic. Elif also had visited India a few times and she shared her experience of visiting India and what she liked and disliked about the cities that she had been to. Another colleague from the summer school was working on his PhD dissertation drawing on OOO and the works of Shelly the poet. Mustafa and me ended up spending quite some time together discussing several things and it was really inspiring.
Perhaps as a closing note for this section it might be important to point out that Turkey came across as a culture which celebrates translations. Elif introduced me to an architect couple who had translated Dark Ecology by Timothy Morton in Turkish. They were working on translating Realist Magic at the moment. Hakan, as I mentioned earlier, was translating The Rise of Realism. Art and Objects was also recently translated in Turkish. All TV series are relentlessly translated in Turkish as well.
In the next post I will briefly write about meeting Graham Harman in person and also all the buzz of discussion around him in the summer school.