Home > Uncategorized > Stories Move Like Whirling Dervishes

Stories Move Like Whirling Dervishes

 Just ran across this beautiful TED talk by Elif Shafak: “The Politics of Fiction.”  Here are responses to a few of her ideas.

I like what she says at the beginning about the tendency to isolate ourselves in homogeneous communities.  That seems to happen as much today as ever, despite the availability of technology and travel. 

Her description of international schools helps me understand why the students I know who’ve attended them don’t seem any more–and often seem less–open to cultural differences than those with purely domestic educations.

“Multicultural Fiction,” a label she decries, sounds a lot like “World Literature.”  Actually, her comments remind me a lot of the argument against doing a course that tries to represent bits from lots and lots of cultures, and for doing a course that addresses a few cultures more deeply.  But I fear we don’t always succeed at getting below the surface.  I need to think more about this one.

“The Turkish-Aremenian conflict.”  Hmmmm.  There’s a careful construction if ever I heard one.  If that’s the strongest term she used, how did she get prosecuted for “insulting Turkishness”?  I’d like to read The Bastard of Istanbul, the novel that raised this issue.  I wonder if Durham Academy could do a senior elective on fiction that addresses contemporary conflicts in some way.  We used to have “Dangerous Books,” which was less contemporary but kind of based on this idea.

The comments on this talk are piling up fast, many of them from Turkish viewers.  Some criticize Safat as a self-promoting orientalist.  I guess anybody who’s really saying something has detractors.  I think this author speaks effectively about her views and grounds them in a fascinating life experience.   I’d like to learn more.

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