Arkadash Ozger; an unknown architect of literature utopia
By Dalga Khatinoglu
Three years after being hit on the head during a police raid on Istanbul University, 25-year-old Arkadash Zekai Ozger's body was found on the streets. A year after his death -caused by cerebral hemorrhage - in 1973, a collection of his poems that have been published in different newspapers and magazines, was gathered by his friends and published under a book named "It Is Love".
Who talks less, but tires more
I like to drink wine with Halva
I've never whispered any prayers
But I love God and mom,
My mom loves Him too
Love of God and cats runs in our family
We all love God and cats traditionally
Life is a tragedy of a homosexual
In my eyes, all homosexuals are similar to Adonis
Because every drunkenness,
Is a bit similar to Freud's non-alcoholic deliriums...
Arkadash Zekai Ozger
In modern times, Adonis's name is often applied to handsome youths. Adonis -the god of beauty- has also had multiple roles in mythology, like homosexuals who often have to take some roles beyond their real nature in the moral principles-dominated life.
Adonis (god of life and death), who was the result of his mother's incest with his seduced grandfather, grew to become a young hunter who robbed the heart of Venus (Aphrodite ), the goddess of love; and this time instead of creating love, the Venus fell in love with Adonis.
Adonis, the most beautiful boy born out of incest, was so ashamed of his mother that took refuge in the mountains of loneliness; but the goddess of love fell in love with Adonis and finally a jealous Mars killed him.
However, this was not the end of his tragedy. After death, this time, it was the wife of underworld's god, Hades, who fell in love with Adonis; and at the end, the fate that gods had in store for him was being alive for half a year, and being dead for the other half, so that both the underground and earthly goddesses could satisfy their love.
This is the tragedy of someone who had no hand in choosing neither his nature, nor his destiny. Arkadash Zekai Ozger also happened to become the victim of his different thoughts reflected in his poets and own (probably) homosexual tendencies, and witnessed bouts of glee like the deliriums of a Sigmund Freud who never tasted neither the pure wine of beauty nor love.
One of the most serious and never-ending problems of the world of art lies in this point as well: interpretation of the sensational world of sacred drunkenness by someone who has neither tasted the beautiful mind-maker wine nor experienced the world of passion; a Freud who looks at artworks with the same approach he used to practice for analyzing mental illnesses. There are many philosophers, sociologists, historians, media figures, and other jobber salesman-like people involved in this business, and these fixers are the most important sources of presenting an artist to the audience in the real world.
Of course, I am not talking about popular-industrial works miscalled and presented as arts.
The main driving motive for the great authors and poets of the world is internal incentive or establishing a connection with a certain audience, like what Shakespeare tells to theater actors through Hamlet (at the start of Act III, Scene ii: the censure of the which one must in your allowance o'erweigh a whole theatre of other). But in the field of art the feedback of outlooks that lean towards the trade-like propaganda of philosophers, sociologists, reporters, and such people not only results in literary schools astray, but also induces some young artists to make their works representatives of the modern ideas of controversial scholars -with much ado (fuss) about nothing- in an attempt to appeal to more audience.
A poet that leaves several blank pages among his book and calls it a poem with the message that "My best poem is the one I haven't written" or "The poet expresses his thoughts mostly through what he has not written, rather than what he has written".
Attempts at establishing "New Novel" by Nathalie Sarraute, Michel Butor and others that were not successful, or a poet that says he composes "Geometric Poetry" and whose compositions are full of numbers and mathematical functions and symbols.
Of course, apparently-acceptable movements have also been born into the world of art, such as the absurd theatre in which people like Albert Camus and Samuel Beckett and their followers produced noteworthy works, or protestant music such as rock, or street art movements.
The purpose of these trends was apparently showing the effect of the modern world on the mechanization of people's life and soul, but instead of showing the chaotic realities of the outside world, they are part of the chaos themselves. These works are portraits of the harsh and chaotic realities of the society displayed for the audience, but I believe art pursues a higher goal aside from displaying a portrait, but preparing mirror.
In the middle of the interpretations and propagation of literature by unliterary figures, what caused the decadence of literature more than the accompaniment of the world of art with the market-like presentation of literary works is the catastrophe of the anonymity of those who, intentionally or unintentionally, have escaped the knives and forks of this table.
I believe that one of these truly genius poets is Arkadash Zekai Ozger whose literary works have not been met with much attention even in Turkey; poems that are not much in quantity, but contain an innovative and special movement.
One of the reasons for the anonymity of this eminent talent and the drowning of his voice in the commotion and uproar of his contemporary era is probably the low number of his poems, his homosexual tendencies in a society that is still severely traditional, or the wave of propaganda and the trade-like demands of politicians and civil activists in the literary setting of 1970s Turkey which created an environment in which only works in support of leftist, patriotic, or religious ideas were read and promoted.
His poems were representative of none of the mentioned trends, although he used to have leftist inclinations at the height of the leftists' suppression.
But aside from these transient and seasonal waves that fed a bunch of slogans instead of poems to the society, it is still a wonder that forty years after Arkadash Zekai Ozger's death, he's still wrapped up in complete obscurity.
Still, there is a Turkish publication called "Mayis Yayinlari" whish has assigned an award named after Arkadash Zekai Ozger since 1996, giving it every year on his death anniversary to the chosen literary work of Turkish literature. But it is not really befitting of such a great poet.
Of course the story of this Turkish poet is one among many, and the current situation is just one problem among many others.
Meanwhile, the media's profit-seeking outlook aimed at satisfying the needs of common audiences who constitute the majority of the society and focusing on popular works for different purposes, such as filling the free time of housewives and entertaining them, promoting fashion trends, and influencing trade markets, has pushed art into a very fragile and sensitive stage.
This issue can be found not only in art, but also in educational methods; systematic attempts for educating and turning the new generation into professional workers and guardians that can meet and save the needs and existence of current economic or ideological systems, not educating and preparing a mind that seeks and defines a new system.
When a creative talent enters the society, he can only find his place among others if he benefits the existing system to a considerable extent; a system which reveals its true nature with a simple glance at its statistics. The value of shadow banking in 2011 reached $67 trillion ($2 trillion more that the global GDP at that year); or according to the report by "Tax Justice Network", the volume of money transfer by the rich people of the world to tax-free regions has reached $13 to $21 trillion. These figures along with many other statistics, in addition to the existence of thousands of nuclear bombs have cast an eerie shadow over earth.
Therefore, trusting the existing system to show a sensible attitude towards art is not really logical.
In spite of all these realities that have been persistent throughout history, sometimes to a lesser degree and sometimes to a higher degree, and in spite of using art as a tool and the anonymity of the real architects of the world of art during their lives, a strong need is felt to redefine the role of art and artist (not its use as a tool) in a society that is severely influenced by trade-like propaganda and various international awards under the "Prestigious art awards" title.
But another complication can be found in Eastern societies. Art is used by opposition as an instrument against the ruling authorities, or as a tool of suppression and deception against the opponents of the ruling class; and if the Artist withdraws from this area, he's doomed to a fate of isolation and loneliness, the situation which turned the art to weapon in reality.
* Arkadash's several poems imply his homosexual tendencies, for instance, "Love Zeki Muren" (Turkish homosexual singer) , "O, tender son. The soul loves soul, there is nothing beyond this", "A beardless son", etc.