Ayşe was still in Ankara, but I had seen rumors on Twitter that tulips were already blooming in Emirgan Korusu. The bulbs were being dowsed with ice water, lest the flowers be overblown for the Tulip Festival in April. Anyway, I wanted to get away from the crowds of Şişli and Beyoğlu. The morning was mostly sunny. Thus on Saturday, March 12, 2016, I headed out to Emirgan, repeating the trip that we had made the previous April.
It was good that I went. The next day turned cloudy and cold. Though Ayşe returned in the evening, depression came also from Ankara with the news of the latest bombing.
Here I just record some of the colors of spring.
The colors are not simply those of nature though. In the park I saw how much work had to be done to put the tulips on display.
The tulips themselves were not considered decorative enough, but were thought to need supplementation in various ways.
Manicured green lawns being a rarity in Turkey, I found the one in Emirgan rather pleasant. I especially enjoyed the smell of the mown grass.
In the midst of tulips, to see a display of tulip-shaped glass—we may be in the East here, and in a country where tea is the national beverage; but we are not in the Far East, of which Okakura Kakuzō wrote in The Book of Tea:
In the tea-room the fear of repetition is a constant presence. The various objects for the decoration of a room should be so selected that no colour or design shall be repeated. If you have a living flower, a painting of flowers is not allowable. If you are using a round kettle, the water pitcher should be angular. A cup with a black glaze should not be associated with a tea-caddy of black laquer. In placing a vase
ofan incense burner on the tokonoma, care should be taken not to put it in the exact centre, lest it divide the space into equal halves. The pillar of the tokonoma should be of a different kind of wood from the other pillars, in order to break any suggestion of monotony in the room.
Here again the Japanese method of interior decoration differs from that of the Occident, where we see objects arrayed symmetrically on mantelpieces and elsewhere. In Western houses we are often confronted with what appears to us useless reiteration…
In the sense of Okakura, Turkey would seem to be firmly in the West.
For now though, many tulip beds had lone blooms.
A few beds were all abloom.
Sometimes I found the taste of the landscape architects to be highly questionable, as here with the suggestion of turning up earth like a carpet.
Need a gazebo to be used in the midst of blooming tulips of all colors be also decorated with colored butterflies?
To gild refined gold, to paint the lily,
To throw a perfume on the violet,
To smooth the ice, or add another hue
Unto the rainbow, or with taper-light
To seek the beauteous eye of heaven to garnish,
Is wasteful and ridiculous excess.
I suppose all of the brown earth will have been covered with sod, come the Tulip Festival.
On the southern edge of the park, behind a fence, I found pallets of bulbs to be planted.
Some were already blooming.
The railing overlooking the Tulip Museum provided a seat for the camera, so that the identity of the photographer might be recorded.
Eventually I went into the Tulip Museum. The guide did not seem to know what I vaguely remembered having learned the previous year: that the museum was in the house of a seventeenth-century Persian Emir called Güne (hence the name Emirgan).
In Emirgan Park (a small urban park that seems to be formally distinct from Emirgan Korusu), there were pansies.
The edge of the water was the obvious spot for a panoramic photograph.
Ayşe and I had visited the museum and the work, last October 30.
The Nine Columns then were part of the Zero exhibition. Now they apparently continue on with the exhibition MACK. Just Light and Colour. Since the Mack exhibition would continue till July, I decided to wait and see it with Ayşe.
After a pide at Orga, I walked back up and inland towards the İTÜ-Ayazağa subway station.
On the campus of Istanbul Technical University, I paused to contemplate an unkempt thicket. One can study nature here and discern the hand of man: for the trees are in rows. Can one likewise discern some
divine intelligence in natural phenomena? Michael Attaleiates did in the Constantinople earthquake of September 23, 1063:
People came out of their houses intoning the usual invocation to God, and even women confined to their chambers were so gripped by fear that they set aside their modesty and rushed outdoors to add their voices to the same invocations.
There were ten or twelve aftershocks, that night in Constantinople, but they were not so strong as the original quake. If they had been, says Michael, no stone in the city would have been left on top of another. He then concludes:
For this reason one theory of those who investigate earthquakes as natural phenomena was overturned, namely that the tremors are caused at random and without warning by the flow of water in the hollows of the earth and the turbulence of the winds there. For if the motion was caused, as they claim, solely by the violence of those elements as they twist around in the hollows of the earth and create flows of compressed air, then the tremors would not have any order to them and their vast and irrepressible force would not cease at the point of collapse, lest the entire world be subsequently destroyed. On this occasion the tremor was revealed as a sign sent from God, given that the turbulent motion was both large and also orderly, and its purpose was to restrain and control human urges. This sanction is the work of divine forbearance whose goal is not to utterly destroy mankind but turn it to a better path. That earthquakes are caused by air flows or the motion of the waters is not out of place considering the interconnected structure of nature, and it is even likely to be true to a certain extent. However, the shaking does not happen randomly—this is what is being refuted by us—rather, it is caused by divine will, given that God does not govern the things of this world in an unmediated way. Thus, the immediate cause of rain appears to be the gathering of clouds and the cause of thunder and lightning their crashing together, but everything, according to those who think in a pious way, depends on divine will.
How can one explain that Michael is not being properly scientific here? I am not sure. Orderliness of nature—of the trees in a grove, or of an archeological site—can be scientifically assigned to a non-natural cause.
I wrote last December that, as described by Michael, the Seljuk Turkish Sultan Alparslan ought to serve as an example for today’s would-be Sultan of Turkey.
After contemplating the copse, I continued on to the subway station.
The web source of my Okakura quotation has
In placing a vase of an incense burner on the tokonoma, care should be taken not to put it in the exact centre,
while the Dover print edition of The Book of Tea has “In placing a vase on an incense burner on the tokonoma.” Probably “a vase or an incense burner” was intended.