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Things to look forward to: ARIT Open House, next Monday

September 24, 2010
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Some things in Istanbul are easy to figure out as an expat. For example, everyone and their brother knows about Çiya. Seriously, it has one highly effective expat siren call. Other things, though, people seem to stumble into haphazardly, finding them several months in or never at all. I just found out about an every-Thursday quiz night, for one.
One institution that falls into the latter category unless you happen to be a grad student is the American Research Institute in Turkey (ARIT). ARIT is excellent: Its Istanbul branch is a block off the waterfront in Arnavutkoy and hosts lectures, events, grad students (seriously, very enjoyable research hostel for very reasonable prices. And the Ankara one is even better), and a nice and research-y library on all things Turkey/Ottoman/Byzantine/etc.
For a small fee, you can become a member of the Friends of ARIT – the cash pays for the building and a few fellowships, and in return you get on their email list and invites to all their programming. It’s a deal that has worked out very nicely for me: They have semi-regular lectures on cool and random things with interesting people from Istanbul’s academic scene and wine and snacks afterward, as well as excursions around Istanbul led by experts on any number of things (I went on the tour of the cistern and dam system up in Belgrad Forest, while a friend took the daylong Istanbul lighthouse tour) and trips further afield (lots of archaeological sites around Turkey, usually led by the site head, and occasional trips to regional countries).

But when and where can you become a member? Where can you hobnob with the Ottomanists and quaff the wine for free, without even becoming a member? The ARIT Open House, of course. This Monday, September 27, 6:30-8:30 p.m. Üvez Sokak 5 in Arnavutkoy (take the bus to the Arnavutkoy iskele, then walk back towards the Sunseeker store). Be there.

We don’t normally (yet) post many pre-event announcements, but this is something easy to miss that more people should check out (or even just know of the existence of). If you’ve got an evening free, head out to Arnavutkoy and meet a historian or two. You’ll learn more about Byzantine architecture or Ottoman mapping systems than you ever thought possible.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. March 13, 2011 5:13 am

    The Eighteenth Word
    [This Word consists of two Stations, of which the Second has

    not yet been written. There are three Points in the First Station.]

    FIRST POINT

    In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.

    Think not that those who exult in what they have thus contrived, and who love to be praised for what they have not done – think not that they will escape suffering: for grievous suffering does await them.1

    A Chastening Slap for my Evil-Commanding Soul:

    O my foolish soul, charmed at glory, enamoured of fame, addicted to praise, and without equal in egotism! If it is a just claim that the source of the fig and its thousands of fruits, is its tiny seed, and that all the grapes in their hundred bunches hanging from a dry branch of the vine are produced through the skill of the branch, and that those who benefit from them should praise and esteem the branch and the seed, then perhaps you have the right to be proud and conceited about the bounties with which you are loaded. But in fact you deserve to be constantly chided, because you are not like the seed and the branch: since you have the faculty of will, you reduce the value of those bounties through your pride. Through your conceit, you destroy them; through your ingratitude, you nullify them; through claiming them as your own, you lay hands on them unlawfully. Your duty is not to glory in your deeds, but to offer thanks. What is fit for you is not fame, but humility. Your right is not praise, it is repentance and to seek forgiveness. Your perfection lies not in self-centredness, but in recognizing God.

    Yes, you in my body resemble ‘Nature’ in the world. Both of you were created to receive good and be the thing to which evil is referred. That is to say, you are not the agent and source, but the recipient and passive. You have only an effect, and that is being the cause of evil because you did not accept as you should have done a good arising from absolute good. Also you were both created as veils, so that things that are apparently ugly, whose beauty is not obvious, would be attributed to you, and you would be means of the Most Holy Divine Essence being acknowledged free of defect. But you have taken on a form entirely contrary to the duty of your natures. Although out of your incapacity you have transformed good into evil, you as though act as partners to your Creator. That means one who worships himself and worships Nature is extremely foolish and perpetrates a great wrong.

    And do not say: “I am a place of manifestation, and one who manifests beauty becomes beautiful.” For since you have not assimilated it, you are not a place of manifestation but a place of passage.

    And do not say: “Among people I was chosen. These fruits, these fine works, are shown through me. That means I have some merit.” No! God forbid! Rather they were given to you first because you are more bankrupt, needy, and sad than everyone else!2

    SECOND POINT

    This Point elucidates one meaning of the verse:

    Who has created everything in the best way,3

    and is as follows:

    In everything, even the things which appear to be the most ugly, there is an aspect of true beauty. Yes, everything in the universe, every event, is either in itself beautiful, which is called ‘beauty itself’, or it is beautiful in regard to its results, which is called ‘beauty through others’. There are certain events which are apparently ugly and confused, but beneath that apparent veil, there are most shining instances of beauty and order.

    Beneath the veil of stormy rains and muddy soil in the season of spring are hidden the smiles of innumerable beautiful flowers and well-ordered plants. And behind the veils of the harsh destruction and mournful separations of autumn is the discharge from the duties of their lives of the amiable small animals, the friends of the coy flowers, so as to preserve them from the blows and torments of the events of winter, which are manifestations of Divine Might and Glory, and under the veil of which the way is prepared for the new and beautiful spring.

    Beneath the veil of events like storms, earthquakes, and plague, is the unfolding of numerous hidden immaterial flowers. The seeds of many potentialities which have not developed sprout and grow beautiful on account of events which are apparently ugly. As though general upheavals and universal change are all immaterial rain. But because man is both enamoured of the apparent and is self-centered, he considers only the externals and pronounces them ugly. Since he is self-centred, he reasons according to the result which looks to himself and judges it to be ugly. Whereas, if, of their aims one looks to man, thousands look to their Maker’s Names.

    For example, man reckons to be harmful and meaningless thorned plants and trees, which are among the great miracles of the Creator’s power. Whereas they are the well-equipped heroes of the grasses and trees. And for example, hawks harrying sparrows is apparently incompatible with mercy. But through this harrying, the sparrow’s abilities unfold. And for example, he considers the snow to be very cold and uninviting, but under that cold and unpleasing veil there are aims so warm and results so sweet that they defy description. Also, since man is self-centred and worships the apparent and therefore judges everything according to the face that looks to him, he supposes to contrary to good manners many things that are perfectly polite and correct. For example, in man’s view, the discussion of his sexual organ is shameful. But this veil of shame is in the face which looks to man. Whereas the faces that look to creation, art, and its aims and purposes are veils which if considered with the eye of wisdom, are perfectly correct. Shame does not touch them at all.

    Thus, certain expressions of the All-Wise Qur’an, the source of politeness and right conduct, are in accordance with these faces and veils. Just as beneath the apparent faces of creatures and events which seem to us to be ugly, there is extremely beautiful and wise art and beautiful faces looking to their creation, which look to their Maker, so too there are numerous beautiful veils which conceal their wisdom, and moreover there are great numbers of apparent instances of disorder and confusion which are most well-ordered sacred writing.

    THIRD POINT

    If you do love God, follow me; God will love you.4

    Since in the universe there is observedly beauty of art, and this is certain, it necessitates with a certainty as definite as actually witnessing it the Prophethood of Muhammed (PBUH). For the beauty of art and finely ornamented forms of these beautiful creatures shows that in their Fashioner is a significant will to make beautiful and powerful desire to adorn. And this will and desire shows that there is in the Maker an elevated love and sacred inclination towards the perfections of the art He displays in His creatures. And this love and inclination require to be most turned towards and concentrated on man, the most enlightened and perfect individual among beings. And man is the conscious fruit of the tree of creation. And the fruit is the most comprehensive and furthest part, the part with the most general view and universal consciousness. And the one with the most comprehensive view and universal consciousness may be a most elevated and brilliant individual, who will meet with and be addressed by that Beauteous Maker; who will expend his universal consciousness and comprehensive view entirely on the worship of his Maker, the appreciation of His art, and thanks for His bounties.

    Now, two signboards, two spheres appear. One is a most magnificent, well-ordered sphere of Dominicality and most finely fashioned, bejewelled signboard of art. The other is a most enlightened and illumined sphere of worship and most broad and comprehensive signboard of thought and reflection, admiration, thanks, and belief. This second sphere acts with all its strength in the name of the first sphere.

    Thus, it will be clearly understood how closely connected with the Maker is the leader of the second sphere, which serves all the Maker’s art-cherishing aims, and how beloved and acceptable he is in His eyes.

    Is it at all reasonable to accept that the munificent Fashioner of these fine creatures, Who so loves His art and Who even takes into consideration all the tastes of the mouth, would remain indifferent towards His most beautiful creature, who, in a clamour of admiration and appreciation which makes the Throne and earth reverberate and in a litany of thanks and exaltation which brings to ecstasy the land and the sea, is worshipfully turned towards Him? Would He not speak with him and want to make him His Prophet and wish his commendable conduct to pass to others? It is possible that He would not speak with him and not make him His Prophet… By no means!

    Verily, the religion before God is Islam.6

    Muhammed is the Prophet of God.5

    * * *

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