At the Skirts of the Mountains

Civilization: The Age of Masked Gods and Disguised Kings – Volume I

The fundamental postulate of this section is that communality as a constructed reality is a human creation. Despite our criticism, there are things that we have and can learn from this fragmented state of the sciences. The reason behind my frequent emphasis on the distinct perception level of social reality is to clarify its difference with other sciences. Without understanding this difference, we will not escape but fall into the scientism of the positivists that have resulted in the genocides of capitalist modernity. Genocide was the great crime that Adorno based his term “wrong life” on. Positivism holds that despite these genocides communal life can be sustained. What I am attempting here is to expose the sources that made this “imprudence” possible and to look for possible methods of transcending these sources, so that we can gain an understanding and identify the appropriate steps to take. We cannot ignore the fact that the continuing existence of modernity leads to institutionalized centers of genocide. The example right before us, the reality of Iraq, shows all of us—not only those who burn in it but also those who observe it from outside—that all the regimes in the Middle East are partners in this crime, whether it be overt or covert. On the other hand, there is also the quest for free life. Free life or genocide—this cannot be an acceptable alternative. We cannot be partners in this crime by living the way we do. How did it happen that this region and history that led to such a meaningful life ended up as it did? With, on the one hand, the wars between the ethnicities that have led to the initial meaning of life, and on the other hand, the wars for leadership of the last great god of modernity? It seems clear that we cannot move on if this issue is not thoroughly addressed.

I feel obliged to express the taste of life in the Fertile Crescent in a more literary way. Let me begin with a quotation by Robert J. Braidwood, who initiated the excavations at Çayönü (Diyarbakir). He said, “Life could not have been more meaningful than at the skirts of the arching range of the Zagros-Taurus Mountains.” I really wonder what it was that made this person, grown up in the distant cultures of today, say such a thing. As an archaeologist and a historian who knows this civilization best, why has he seen the most meaningful life of all to be that of this cultural region? Despite this observation, today’s inhabitants wish to flee from this land to Europe as if to run away from plague, even though it means working for the lowest wages. They look at migration as if it is their destiny, as if there is no sacred or aesthetic value left in this region, as if there is nothing that can once again be attained.

I admit, at some stage I too fell for the disease of modernity and wanted to flee from everything, including from my mother and father. I often admit to myself that this was my biggest delusion in life. However, I had not totally detached myself from what Braidwood observed. As a child of those skirts, I always thought the peaks of the mountains to be the sacred throne of the gods and goddesses, and its skirts to be the cornerstones of heaven that they created in plenitude and I always wanted to wander around. As a young boy, because of this, I was described as “mad for mountains.” When I learnt much later that such a life was reserved for the god Dionysus and the free and artistic groups of girls (the Bacchantes) who travelled before and behind him, I really envied him. It is said that the philosopher Nietzsche preferred this god to Zeus and that he would even sign many of his works as the “disciple of Dionysus.” When I was still at my village, I always wanted to play games with the girls of my village. Although this did not conform to the religious rules, I have always thought that this was the most natural thing. I never approved of the dominant culture’s way of shutting women behind doors. I still want to engage with them in unlimited free discussions, in games, in all the sacredness of life. I still say an unconditional “no” to the slavery and bonds that smell of possession and that is based on power relations.

I remember how I have always saluted the free women of these mountains with the morning breeze of goddesses and how we tried to understand one another. I also remember the unique anger I have always felt against men—family, clan and state—for the deaths of truckloads of south-eastern women who died in car crashes on their way to other regions for seasonal work. How is it possible that they fell this low from being the descendants of the goddess? My mind and soul have never accepted their fall. I have always thought that a woman should either have the sacredness of a goddess or not be at all. I agree with the statement that “the degree of emancipation of woman is the natural measure of general emancipation.”47

To me, my mother always was reminiscent of the mother goddess. But then modernity’s construction of a superficial mother veiled the sacredness within her to my eyes. Although I experienced extraordinary pain in my life, I have never seriously cried about anything. But now, in the aftermath of shattering the constructs of modernity, I remember my mother and all the mothers of the region with tears and sadness. Now, I again value the meaning of the water I used to drink from the copper buckets that my mother carried home with such difficulty. They are my most vivid and my saddest memories.

I plead that everyone will reconsider their relationship with their mother and father after having shattered modernity in their own minds. And then for everyone to reflect upon all of their relationships in the village from the same perspective. The biggest success of modernity is its achievement in shattering the fifteen thousand year old constructed culture and reducing it to nothing. Of course one cannot expect a noble and free perspective, resistance and passion for life from individuals and communities that have been shattered and reduced to nothing.

The flora and fauna on the skirts of the Arch’s mountains have always been objects of passion for me. I used to consider them sacred. The one thing I can still not forgive myself for is snapping off the heads of the birds I hunted without any pity. There is no better example of the profound danger embedded within the object-subject dichotomy modernity enforced on us. My concern for the ecology is strongly related to this passion and the crime of my childhood. My only remedy was to pull down the masks of the “strong exploiter and ruling man” who is a mere hunter and whose only talent is power relations and warring. Unless we understand the language of the fauna and flora, we will neither understand ourselves nor become ecological socialists.

I have the most intense feelings when I remember how the valleys that began at the skirts of the mountains were prepared for production from the onset of spring to the onset of autumn by my farmer father. I cannot forgive myself for the inability to mourn his death—an inability brought on by the relationships imposed by modernity. I have big regrets: Why could not I fully understand these travelers of god and befriend them?

At one time, I thought that the moment for village relationships had come and gone. Today, I have no doubt that the ideal life for humanity can only be sustained in the villages that are in harmony with the ecology—not in the city structures of modernity. The only way that cities can become fit for human dwelling is to transform them into ecological villages.

To my mind, the people living in the range of the Nur and Zagros mountains are the sacred passengers of the gods and goddesses who reside at the thrones located at the peaks of the mountains.48 I reject the insult, from the perspective of modernity, of being “backward” because progressiveness and backwardness are just ideological judgments. I not only think that modernity is backward, but I also believe that a profound analysis of capitalist modernity’s mentality (which I view as an enemy of humanity) will lead us back to the fundamentals of humanity. When we rid ourselves of modernity’s hellish shackles, namely profiteering, industrialism and the nation-state, we will be able to live a meaningful life again. The city—that has opened its doors to the life of profit, the capture of the human being in an iron cage and the industrial monsters that are the murderers of life—is an even more meaningless copy of the old “Babylon with seventy two languages.” I have no doubt that the liberation of humanity lies in the collapse of the cancerous structure of this kind of urbanism. And I do believe that I was able to make the grand return to freedom.

I have told this short story to evoke memories of the life-culture that is our roots. We need to fully and effectively understand the lifestyle that is the product of this constructed social reality before we can escape playing the role of modernity’s fool. If we do not rid ourselves of this cancerous life of modernity that has taken all of us hostage—including the shepherd in the mountains—we cannot live a free life. We shall, sooner or later, understand that “the wrong life cannot be lived rightly.”

47 Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels quoted Charles Fourier like this in their work, The Holy Family (1844).

48 The Nur Mountains lie at the south-western end of the Taurus range.

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