In this country the proponent of a value has to die before it can be appreciated. Die first and then be recognized! Regardless of the worldview being hailed, their proponents are only valued after their death. Whether it is the field of thought or art, science or ideas, those that sacrifice themselves to their field of study are first disregarded or even punished by the majority. Their reputations are only restored when they die.
This is how the process of appreciation works when the act of appreciating and rewarding is monopolized mainly by official channels and even legitimacy has to pass through these official channels. This is also why this society has maintained its distance from those that have been valued and acclaimed by the state.
The state, which lags behind society, tries to send a message of rapprochement with society by belatedly rewarding those that are long dead.
This process of the state can even extend to measures taken to counteract the most dangerous enemies of the regime and take away the potential of their messages taking root in society!
This is why all those that we value are buried under the ground. Those who are alive will find it difficult to see their turn arrive…
Of course the reason the dead gain esteem on the level of state cannot just be limited to the explanation that it is because they do not possess the ability to protest any longer. Here the nostalgic relationship that we have established with history comes to the fore and results in our unique method of trying to make the present seem nostalgic. We prefer to praise our past rather than the present. It is certain that this is closely linked to the societal trauma we have been experiencing for years.
The real problem, however, should be sought in the state and cultural authority’s skill to commodify values. The most modern method of negating a value or thought is to make it a cultural icon, or to be more precise, to make it a consumer commodity of the culture industry.
The proclamation of the late master as the sultan of poets years ago was an attempt toward rapprochement by the system. This is because it was the mostly right-leaning conservative wing that spearheaded this and literally put him in the grave before he was dead.
This perception was so strong that I wonder if those that presented the Necip Fazıl award the other evening, were aware that a significant section of those circles that spearheaded this did not take responsibility for this state initiative that took place under the conditions prevalent in those days.
This was a distanced stance to oppose in a manner the transforming of Necip Fazıl into a rightist by circles that perceive him to have been that way. Although, even if not officially, his worldview, political perspectives and the position he adopted within the system lead to him being counted as part of the state and system.
While watching the state-sponsored “Necip Fazıl awards” on TV the other evening, the stages of political history, the relationship established by those that call themselves Muslim with the state, and the values of the cultural authority, flashed before my eyes like a roll of film. Even down to the tone adopted by the presenter, which was reminiscent of the commanding voice of the Master constantly warning the youth, “No need for unnecessary furor” during those unforgettable evenings of the National Youth.
Finally the state provided patronage and made a part of the award ceremony named after the person himself, a person it had imprisoned for a while, had experienced a topsy-turvy relationship with, and who was a relentless opponent. In a way, this should be seen as appreciation.
However, when considering the event as part of content and history, a lot of things should be questioned regarding the sinister relationship between being part of the state and being a dissident.
For example was there no one left other than ministers and official representatives to speak about Necip Fazıl at an awards ceremony for thought, art and poetry? I wonder what Necip Fazıl himself would have had to say about being suffocated in such an official ceremony.
Questions of this type might multiply. Without comprehending Necip Fazıl’s thoughts and struggle, it is not possible to completely understand today’s Turkey and furthermore it is not possible to fully understand Islamic activities during the Republican period and even the political history of the Republican period.
It would be useful to rethink a process where the state restores a reputation and tries to make someone popular for political reasons, and resorts to making use of verses without paying for them.
This situation has less to do with the identity of Necip Fazıl and his relationship with the state, and more to do with the nature of the relationship with the state of those that claim to value him.
The most concrete example that corroborates what I am saying is the ironic situation that the most dissident ideologue found himself placed in. It is rendering hollow a discourse when a segment that fails to question the political discourse that owes its success to its relationship with the capitalism of global finance and corporations, applauds an anti-capitalist speech.
Taking ownership of values and rendering values hollow and iconizing them are different things.