شنبه، فروردین ۱۰، ۱۳۹۲

His very face sits

استادم گفت که در مورد یک جا بنویسم. یک شهر، روستا، خیابان یا دشت، کوه. نمی‌دانم در مورد سیسیل بنویسم یا پامیر. بعد بهم ده تا نمونه‌ی خوب داد که بخوانم. من عاشق این دو تا شدم. فکر که کردم فهمیدم چرا از میان این همه نمونه‌ی خوب من عاشق این دو تا شدم. چون کلی گویی دارند. عاشق کلی گویی در مورد شهرها و آدم‌هام. این یعنی نویسنده توانسته the big picture را ببیند.  بی‌نظیرند.

 V.S. Pritchett on Istanbul, Turkey



Istanbul has meant so much to the imagination that the reality shocks most travelers. We cannot get the sultans out of our minds. We half expect to find them still cross-legged and jeweled on their divans. We remember tales of the harem. The truth is that Istanbul has no glory except its situation. It is a city of steep, cobbled, noisy hills. . . .


Mostly the shops sell cloth, clothes, stockings, shoes, the Greek traders rushing out, with cloth unrolled, at any potential customer, the Turks passively waiting. Porters shout: everyone shouts; you are butted by horses, knocked sideways by loads of bedding, and through all this, you see one of the miraculous sights of Turkey---a demure youth carrying a brass tray suspended on three chains, and in the exact center of the tray a small glass of red tea. He never spills it; he maneuvers it through chaos to his boss, who is sitting on the doorstep of his shop.


One realized that there are two breeds in Turkey: those who carry and those who sit. No one sits quite so relaxedly, expertly, beatifically as a Turk; he sits with every inch of his body; his very face sits. He sits as if he inherited the art from generations of sultans in the palace above Seraglio Point. Nothing he like better than to invite you to sit with him in his shop or in his office with half a dozen other sitters: a few polite inquiries about your age, your marriage, the sex of your children, the number of your relations, and where and how you live, and then, like the other sitters, you clear your throat with a hawk that surpasses anything heard in Lisbon, New York or Sheffield, and join the general silence.

Jonathan Raban on Minnesota

Flying to Minneapolis from the West, you see it as a theological problem.


The great flat farms of Minnesota are laid out in a ruled grid, as empty of surprises as a sheet of graph paper. Every graveled path, every ditch has been projected along the latitude and longitude lines of the township-and-range-survey system. The farms are square, the fields are square, the houses are square; if you could pluck their roofs off from over people’s heads, you’d see families sitting at square tables in the dead center of square rooms. Nature has been stripped, shaven, drilled, punished and repressed in this right-angled, right-thinking Lutheran country. It makes you ache for the sight of a rebellious curve or the irregular, dappled colour of a field where a careless farmer has allowed corn and soybeans to cohabit.


But there are no careless farmers on this flight path. The landscape is open to your inspection---as to God’s---as an enormous advertisement for the awful rectitude of the people. There are no funny goings-on down here, its says: we are plain upright folk, fit candidates for heaven.


Then the river enters the picture---a broad, serpentine shadow that sprawls uncomfortably across the checkerboard. Deviously winding, riddled with black sloughs and green cigar-shaped islands, the Mississippi looks as if it had been put here to teach the god-fearing Midwest a lesson about stubborn and unregenerate nature. Like John Calvin’s bad tempter, it presents itself as the wild beast in the heart of the heartland.


When people who live on the river attribute a gender to the Mississippi, they do so without whimsy, and nearly always they give it their own sex. “You better respect the river, of he’ll do you in,” growls the lockmaster. “She’s mean---she’s had a lot of people from around here,” says the waitress at the lunch counter. When Eliot wrote that the river is within us (as the seas is all about us), he was nailing something true in an everyday way about the Mississippi. People do see its muddy turmoil as a bodying-forth of their own turbulent inner selves. When they boast to strangers about their river’s wantonness, its appetite for trouble and destruction, its floods and drownings, there’s a note in their voices that says, I have it in me to do that . . . I know how it feels.