Tag Archives: Sevan Nişanyan

On the Odyssey, Book I

  • In reading his rendition of the Iliad, having enjoyed hearing Chapman speak out loud and bold;

  • having enjoyed writing here about each book, particularly the last ten books in ten days on an Aegean beach in September of this year (2019);

  • having taken the name of this blog from the first line of the Odyssey;

  • having obtained, from Homer Books here in Istanbul, Emily Wilson’s recent translation (New York: Norton, 2018);

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Şirince January 2018

In the Nesin Mathematics Village recently, I was joined at breakfast one morning by a journalist called Jérémie Berlioux. He knew Clément Girardot, the journalist whom I had met in the Village in the summer of 2016. This was before the coup attempt of July 15, but after the terror attack at Atatürk Airport on June 28. I wrote about this attack the next day in “Life in Wartime” on this blog. Then I headed off to Şirince to join a “research group.” My wife and colleague came along, though not to be part of the group; afterwards we headed up the coast for a beach holiday. We were at the beach when the coup attempt happened, as I wrote in my next blog article, “War Continues.” I contrasted politics with mathematics, which was an inherently nonviolent struggle. This was the kind of struggle engaged in by the research group in the Math Village.

Large clay pot against dark vines

Outside the Nişanyan Library


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On Chapman’s Homer’s Iliad, Book II

Index | Text

Even gods must sleep; but under the weight of his responsibility to Thetis, Zeus cannot. As Achilles pointed out in Book I, “dreams are often sent from Jove”; now we shall have a case in point (Chapman’s lines 4–7).

… Al waies cast; this coūsel seru’d his mind
With most allowance: to dispatch, a harmefull dreame to greet
The king of men; and gaue this charge: Go, to the Achiue fleet,
(Pernicious dreame) …

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Free Sevan Nişanyan

Note added July 17, 2018: Sevan Nişanyan is now free, in the sense of having escaped from prison—an open prison—and from Turkey. The story is told well in an article by Lauren Frayer on NPR, September 28, 2017. Alev Scott visited Sevan on the Greek island of Samos and wrote about it in the Times Literary Supplement, July 4, 2018; the article is behind a paywall, but there’s a free version. The friends and colleagues mentioned at the beginning of my own essay are not currently under detention, though trials of them and others continue. My essay remains as an expression of the value of freedom of speech.

We want freedom for our friends and colleagues who are being held in pre-trial detention for their supposed support of terrorism through advocating peace.

İlyastepe, Şirince, May 2013

İlyastepe, Şirince, May 2013

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Bosphorus Sky

This is about the morning of Thursday, December 18, 2014, a morning I spent by the Bosphorus, thinking mostly about poetry, and photographing the sky.

DSC01811

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Şirince 2014

This is about our second visit to the Nesin Mathematical Village in Şirince this year. The first visit was to attend the Summer School Around Valuation Theory, May 22–26. Now we have come back to teach, as usual, in the Turkish Mathematical Society Undergraduate and Graduate Summer School. This time we are teaching not just one week, but two: July 14–27. My own course, as several times in the past, is on nonstandard analysis. Each course meets every day but Thursday, two hours a day.

The Math Village only increases in beauty every year, as I mean to suggest by posting a few photographs below.

I shall also state an opinion. The summer school here in the Village used to receive some funding from TÜBİTAK (the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey); but apparently this funding is no longer forthcoming. Nonetheless, the Nesin Mathematical Village is the kind of venture that governments at their best will support. Certain Libertarians, desiring minimal government, still want government to maintain property rights, so that citizens can make money. Other people look to government to create jobs more directly. But money by itself is worthless, and some jobs are more worth doing than others. I do not say that the Nesin Mathematical Village should be supported for the technological gains that mathematics can make possible. I say that participating in the activities of the Village is itself a gain. What are you going to do when your basic animal needs are satisfied? You could do a lot worse than spend time on mathematics.

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The swift

This is about the bird and its appearance in the Quran.

We (my wife and I) live at the edge of the upper reaches of a stream valley on the European side of the Bosphorus. The stream drains a plain where Sultan Abdülmecid (1839–61) once invited immigrants to settle. That area is now called Mecidiyeköy (village of Mecid), and until the 1950s, it was mostly open fields. Continue reading