Tuesday, April 14, 2009
"Someone must have defamed Josef K,
... because he was arrested one morning, without doing anything bad."
With this chilling sentence opens the book Kafka could not finish, the same book which he wrote in his will that should be burned after his dead. His friend and publisher did not proceed according to Kafka's will and published his book the "Trial."
The term "Kafkaesque" is used to describe everyday situations that are internally consistent, yet too absurd to be true. They are, at least ideally, not to be found in real life, but in books of Kafka. Yet what is going on in Turkey for almost a year is definitely pressing against this boundary between fiction and everyday life.
Almost a year ago Turkey was rocked by the arrests of retired high ranked military officers, accused of planning a civil-backed military coup d'etat to overthrow the ruling party of Islamist roots, which is seen by some as Islamists undercover, who are trying to undermine the secular "grand-narrative" of the Turkish Republic. The military has been a political player in Turkish politics, ever since the word has been used in Asia Minor, and were seen to that point in time untouchable. The accusations were chilling: there were to be assassinations of high state figures of secular world-view to raise the anti-government feelings, and legitimize the coup. There were discoveries of ammunition, explosives and so forth...
This organization, named Ergenekon after the Turkish exodus myth for reasons unexplained to public, was supposedly headed by generals, but included businessman, media bosses, NGO leaders, ex-convicts, and a ex-islamist Rabbi. After almost a year of high profile arrests, the trial has turned into a mix of Mc Carthy Witch hunt and Kafkaesque drama, with a dash of conspiracy theory.
The last set of arrests, which included many university presidents, and the heads of secularist NGOs, who were clearly against a coup before the tense run-up to last years general elections, has confirmed the opinion of many in Turkey -which includes me- that this trial is used by the government to oppress dissent and opposition. The worst part of all this was the arrest of the city officers of the NGO Trust for Supporting Contemporary Living, which helps many young Turkish girls during their university education. The police has confiscated the folders of girls receiving financial support among with their supporters, in an anti-coup trial. This is too Kafkaesque even for Kafka.
Thanks to wiki I learned that we are not the only country where Kafka comes to real life. According to Wiki, in Mexico the saying goes "Si Franz Kafka fuera mexicano, sería costumbrista", which means "If Kafka were Mexican, he would be a daily writer".