Kontra Nar

We have specific Social Responsibility projects that we have developed and developed in Istanbul Bilgi University’s Pomegranate Club and Contra classes. Of these, the Child Labor Project. The aim of this project is to draw attention to child labor in the world and Turkey. In the Child Labor Project, our primary goal is to draw attention to the exploitation of the labor of heavy workers in many sectors and to develop a sense of what we can do in this regard. This project contains the definitions of the scope of children and young workers, we have prepared a pamphlet stating the conditions of child labor in Turkey. In this booklet we talked about how this situation was complicated by the intervention of multinational corporations, and we mentioned how we share in this exploitation. We started our project after preparing these booklets that informed us about what we can do about child labor exploitation. Then we got a painting activity on cloth bags for second-year students from Evrim school. We have created a short film by pulling this event. We then placed handbags for information purposes. We put the bags on different corners of the school. We shared all this stuff in our social media account. So we tried to draw attention to the problem of child labor even if it was a little bit.

The Green School Project is our second Social Responsibility project. Within this project we focused more on book project. With the call of Ayşe Temizel Middle School teachers in Soma and the Association of 301 Miners’ Social Assistance and Solidarity, we tried to provide support to Istanbul through the book campaign launched to enrich the school library being renewed and to open up the children’s horizons. We prepared a poster together for this book project to be held in Soma. Later, at our school, we contacted Bilgi University Customer Relations Management and Innovation Specialist Sarp Tosun to be able to inform everyone about this issue. In this context an information mail was sent to the entire school from our side and the posters on the walls of the school and important points were hanged simultaneously. Another subject that we worked on in the Green School was shelter animals. We have prepared a video content to support the work of the Barınakta Hayat Var Club, which is carrying out various projects in Bilgi University, on the shelters in Kurtköy and its vicinity. When we did this, we visited Kurtköy and its surrounding animal shelters with the club, and carried out the activities that the club carried out there. In the meantime, we realized how hard the animals were living in these barns, and we carefully took our shots to draw attention to this issue. In the content of the video, it was discussed that the club provided shelter to the shelters and helped with the cleaning. Lastly, in order to enrich the video content we have made in the shelter and to convey the right information to the audience, we contacted Ege Ayyıldız, the President of Barınakta Hayat Var Club, and made an interview with him.

At the same time we organized a ceremony to support the Rohingya refugees as the Nar Club. We gathered a certain amount of money as a result fundraiser. The money we collected was delivered to Ayten Zara from the Department of Psychology of Bilgi University, who went to Mynmar to support those refugees.

We continue to develop the Social Responsibility projects mentioned above and work on innovations. In this context, we shall examine all the issues that we see lacking in social life as much as possible within the scope of the projects.

We must once again express our gratitude for the solidarity and support of Nevzat Arı, Burak Yetkin, Emincan Şengül, Burak Mutcalıoğlu, Kadir Yurtdagülen, Özge Alyu Dilsiz and Erol Aslan as both the Contra course and the Nar Student Club

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Week 1 – What is CONTRA, and Why CONTRA: 1989 – 2009

The advertisements have been playing a significant role in shaping particularly children but also individuals and the society as a whole, developing the cultural and social collective memory, and the creation and documentation of history through the manipulation of almost the same patterns and statements:

Buy whatever you desire and consume, and beat others; nothing else but only the individual desires and pleasures matter.

We have been exploiting and contaminating the natural resources rapidly. The egalitarian competition to take over these natural resources also experiences a serious corruption. Data show that peace not only within a society but also among different societies could not be attained; furthermore, the rate of violence accelerates. There is no doubt that big companies and advertisements are responsible for the consumption culture that gigantically develops and invades the sphere where law and justice is totally neglected, and immensely corrupts both the environment and the former cultural norms that value cooperation, collaboration, and sharing. This perception of consumption makes individuals identical and destroys the cultural and ecological environment.

Contra is the name that we give to our studies after 2007 consisting of less-than-one-minute advertisements produced with social and ecological aims, which also include the posters, logos, web pages and radio spots. We believe there is a distinct difference we do emphasise between social responsibility projects and contra products. Because contra is produced free of any organisations and groups, it can be more independent and critical. It is realised through a more economical production process; almost all the money and effort spent is invested in the intended message rather than the advertisements of the company that funds the production. We particularly do not want our work to be compared with social ads and social responsibility projects because the aims, aesthetic structures, production processes and financial constructions are completely different from each other.

Contras are the films and campaigns that aim at collaboration and sharing. They try to reduce consumption, contamination and corruption; furthermore, they mainly concentrate on the neglected rather than the most beautiful, the best and the most visible. We are a team consisting of artists, educationalists, people in advertising business and students. We design posters and web pages, make films using this form of propaganda.  We have made films about social and environmental issues such as smoking, accidental exposure to corrosives, child health care, street children, earthquake, violence on women, violence in sports, hooliganism, traffic rules, sea pollution, the importance of drinking water resources, city and noise pollution, erosion, destruction of forests, schizophrenia, myopathy, Mediterranean seals, a world without land mines, peace in the world, children’s right to play games, protection of the Caretta Caretta nesting areas, protecting children against sexual abuse, and refugees and their rights. These films have been used and still being used by television channels not only in Turkey but also worldwide, by NGO’s, AGO’s(?), schools, ministries, municipalities, and they are shown in festivals.

We genuinely care about ecological and human problems; we are excited about and also influenced by these processes not because they are “the fundamental duties of any good person” or “social responsibility” but because they are processes of creation. This is the real meaning of producing contra.

Especially today, the social terrains in this country are manipulated by big companies, the advertising companies that serve these corporations and the NGO’s that are established or made to be established by those companies. The sole purpose of the advertising companies that make business with those huge companies is to increase consumption as capitalism manipulates and urges a consumer who has a new car to buy a newer one and get rid of the ‘old’ one. The dilemma lies beneath the reality that these companies that are experts in pumping consumption pretend to take part in campaigns that aim at giving ecological and human-oriented messages.

There is no doubt that these huge companies and the NGO’s that they found cannot adopt a critical approach towards these social issues; moreover, when we consider the fact that TV channels are also controlled by these three forces, the possibility that any issue could be concealed rather than raised sounds quite rational.

Today universities, and maybe the state, (because the current structure of universities make them flawed) have to seriously consider making films free of partisanship to address to the social and environmental issues from a rational perspective with a concern of benefitting the public rather than allow their proponents to use the funds available. This is the only way that the possibility to create independent films which demonstrate the real issues aesthetically could emerge. Doing all these and saving the resources is important not only for Turkey but also for the entire world.

In recent years, I witness that both in the world of advertising and in universities people who have never had any connection with environmental and social problems demonstrate their intention to make social advertisements. All of a sudden the environment, seas and social issues have started bearing importance for larger groups. At first glance, this seems rather positive; however, the difference between today and the past is not that the number of issues has increased but it is the fact that a great deal of national and multinational funds have been directed into this sphere. We only hope that this new promising intention of such people is not related to the considerable amount of European Union funds reserved for this field. If the reason behind this intention is these funds but nothing else especially in universities, it will be no different from that of the advertising companies and some NGO’s, and maybe our last hope would be wasted.

Today, both in Turkey and in the whole world, the NGO’s, European funds, national and multinational corporations, the advertising companies and the newly opened (the oldest was opened only five years ago) “social responsibility departments” that rapidly expand in those companies have been merged. I am one of the individuals who started working on such films in the 1990’s when this field was far less popular than it is today. Before such large amounts of funds were directed into this sphere, it was easier to establish the ethics; also, the criticisms were being approved then. Nevertheless, this narrow area has also been contaminated like the soil and the water that we breathe in.

Consequently, in a short period of time, we will end our productions in this area, and we will put a great deal of our effort in merely increasing the free worldwide distribution and circulation of the products that we have already created.

*You may watch some of the films mentioned on www.vimeo.com . The copyrights are assigned to the public.

In English;

mediterranean is over: http://www.vimeo.com/1017665
ecosystem films: http://www.vimeo.com/1274605
earthquake film: http://www.vimeo.com/1274398
accidental ıngestion of corrosive subs.: http://www.vimeo.com/1274364
films against violence: http://www.vimeo.com/1274257
ecosystem films: http://www.vimeo.com/1272643
films against drug addiction: http://www.vimeo.com/1272356
how wonderfull is reading: http://www.vimeo.com/1272282
films against cigarette addiction: http://www.vimeo.com/1272120
documentary is ımportant: http://www.vimeo.com/1272076
scizophrenia films: http://www.vimeo.com/1271852
1 film for homeless children: http://www.vimeo.com/1271648
anti war films: http://www.vimeo.com/1271401
neuro muscular disorder films: http://www.vimeo.com/1270653

In Turkish;

 

http://ozguven.bilgi.edu.tr/tr/spots.html
sigara ve madde bağımlılığı: http://www.vimeo.com/1310843
caretta caretta: http://www.vimeo.com/1310741
kadın ve şiddet: http://www.vimeo.com/1310339
şizofreni hastalığı: http://www.vimeo.com/1310188
savaşa hayır: http://www.vimeo.com/1309982

 

 

WEEK 2 – NGO’s: Non-governmental Organisations

NGO’s are independent bodies that reject the traditional authority and that are founded by the citizens in order that they could offer solutions to problems in the spheres where the state does not/cannot function or inefficiently function. They are legal active organizations like clubs, societies, associations, or foundations, and they are concerned with different issues. The historians, who examine the history of NGO’s with respect to Rousseau and Gramsci like Murat Belge, are opposed by the religious ones who believe that NGO’s are rooted back in the time of Bediüzzaman, and that they derived from mosques and are referred to in Hucurat Sura. Certainly, the Christian approach to NOG’s is quite different from these both views. The focus here is on the contemporary structures and problems of NGO’s rather than the historical discussions.

There is a strict hierarchy in the majority of NGO’s which reject the authority and propose a more democratic and cooperative process to solve problems. You may see that the leaders of some NGO’s are the same people for quite a long time although they continuously complain that they are tired and they lack enough resources to support their activities.

Volunteerism is a dangerous concept that interests the NGO’s. Volunteerism can generally be perceived as being irresponsible, or when there is the concept of volunteerism, there appears an understanding that the problem solution processes do not require care, discipline and knowledge. However, NGO’s require a deal with highly important and strategic issues as those of the state, military and trade unions, and they require discipline.

–        Why are you late?

–        I’m a volunteer, anyway.

–        But what you have done is useless, it’s no good.

–        Whatever, I’m a volunteer; I didn’t know how to do it.

–        That’s very expensive!

–        I don’t spend it for my own benefit! They told me to buy it and I did!

We can see that some NGO’s are closer to the state, some corporations or to the military. This situation obstructs their independent function and choice. It also results in the occurrence of hierarchy and traditional authority that destructs the ideal structure of NGO’s.

–        We don’t support this as a foundation.

–        You don’t but you see no harm when you ask for sources to finance the expenses.

–        Mr Cemal is not really competent in our areas of interest.

–        Whatever, he’ll learn in time; he’s a nice person after all.

Another difficulty in the functioning of NGO’s is that it is difficult to adopt the traditional, legal and ethical control mechanisms. These mechanisms do not work efficiently, and it is difficult to contact the responsible people. The expenses of foundations are inspected with respect to the receipts obtained only. The effectiveness, rationality, scientific grounds and economic aspects of the activities and campaigns are not generally examined.

As corporations put pressure on the NGO’s that they fund, the multinational NGO’s practice a similar power on the local or national branches and define the policies from the top, which is also another problem.

Week 3 – Social Responsibility (SR) and Social Responsibility Projects (SRP)

In 1993, when we started making short films on issues that can be regarded as topics that are embraced with the concept of social responsibility, the group was quite limited. The films or the motionless visuals (posters, billboards, leaflets, etc.) were defined as social ads, and we used the same term for a long time. At that time, this definition was not given importance, known or hardly understood. Nevertheless, today (I mean the year 2011) the ones who work for the public good used to be involved in the financial activities. Now some of them are retired and in a way they are trying to clean what they have contaminated, which is equally important.

Today, I find the popular term that starts with social and ends with responsibility dull and meaningless. I also used to promote these terms unwillingly, but now they are replaced by the term contra. The terms are hypocritical and open to misinterpretation. Moreover, I am concerned that when the third word project is attached to social responsibility, the phrase social responsibility project becomes even more meaningless.

The word social is an underdeveloped and boring one. It creates an unpleasant feeling. Responsibility is something that we all (for example me) almost hate. Except for the extraordinarily enlightening leading figures in society, we, common people, do not generally want to take any responsibilities. We usually try to avoid responsibilities (I do). The phrase social responsibility composed of these two hypocritical and dull terms becomes an awful one. Let’s refer to this phrase as SR from then on in this text to minimise this unpleasant feeling.

One of the misperception that SR creates is because of the financial connection between the development process of this concept and the corporations and the state. While the corporations and the states that are fully responsible of the ecological and ethical misery that the world suffers from, they pretend to act responsibly when they are involved in SR. In fact, they do far less than what they are supposed to do and they spend even more money to advertise what they produce than they spend on SR. Consequently, corporations turn SR, which is problematic in itself, into advertising. As it is the state, national or multinational corporations that are responsible for the current situation of the world, it is their primary duty to announce the ecological and social issues, create awareness about them and eliminate these problems.

Another misperception that the term SR creates is that it defines the area of work as if it was a piece of boring homework, but actually it is enjoyable and meaningful to be part of it. You naturally obtain a great deal of satisfaction while you are watching a campaign or film that advises using water or soil more effectively or not alienating  the ones who suffer from schizophrenia from society; you feel the joy of attaining an enjoyable and meaningful deed and discover the human in you. Calling this process SR enables you to see the clues that show to what extent these corporations that make money with commercial advertising could internalise the essence of this process. Besides, they have been involved in this area more and more restricting the independent production. It is highly significant that this production of films and promotions that aim to publicise the issues concerning ecological and human rights must be independent.

I prefer the term contra to SR for the last two years. This period is shorter than the one during which SR has become popular and the advertising and public relations companies have transformed into SR experts. After 2000, there has been a drastic increase in SR. All of a sudden, at the turn of the new millennium, the state, corporations and certainly the advertising sector felt the need of doing something to solve the ecological and social problems.

It is possible to set the starting date of these problems back to the time before 12 September, to 1972’s, 60’s, to the date the republic was founded, to 1071 the Battle of Manzikert, or to the birth of Christ. While all these things are happening and Istanbul, the city we live in, is imposing whatever they want on Anatolia, it never does it more rationally, scientifically and in a more modern way. The social ads are also generally produced in Istanbul. Istanbul is the centre of not only social ads but also all other big organizations.

In the last quarter of the century the transformation has accelerated; global warming, exploitation of natural resources and unequal distribution of them have grown, and ecological and social contamination has gained speed.  The results of the pollution in the developed countries have also reached a considerable level. The SR process has become compulsory as a result of the pressure coming from the West and the level of pollution within our borders that has become intolerable, and a lot of NGO’s have been founded. The most significant and biggest ones, as you could guess, are founded in Istanbul. Most of them are governed by former business people who are actually primarily responsible for the pollution that we are exposed to together with the state of course. “It is us who polluted the most, and it’s us again who can clean it.” You might remember this understanding and this statement. A considerable number of these NGO’s are founded as branches of corporations; that is, they are financially and managerially connected to these corporations among which you can see the ones that are in technology, finance, IT and media business. I have serious doubts that they employ the brightest staff in these areas. It is worthy to attract people’s attention to the situation that the one who pollute the environment (the corporations) and the ones who try to clean it (the NGO’s) are in the same structure and have the same function using the same financial sources.

Consequently, the Istanbul oriented huge NGO’s founded by these former business people later than the western countries started to define the processes in ecological, cultural, artistic and social cases. When they felt the need, they opened branches in parts of Anatolia where they function frequently and extensively.

Towards the end of 70’s, when the acid rains that were promising today’s global warming became tragic, campaigns aiming at individuals started in western countries. It was emphasised that creating consciousness of the issue was very important, and conscious individuals were believed to make the school, corporations, states and families conscious about it. The most significant problem in these campaigns was actually a hidden one that they established a message that both the guilty and the responsible are the individuals and they got the masses to believe in this. The campaigns held a quarter century ago created the rich and famous Bob Geldoff and his counterparts. These people who were defined as environmentalist humanist activists who later arranged more colonialist and orientalist organizations left concerts that made no use behind. The wars, famine and erosions still exist in Africa and they get even worse.

It is not right and rational to centralise the individual as the primary responsible one to face global warming that lasts for almost a quarter century and deficiency of clean water supplies that probably resulted from global warming; this cannot be legitimised and explained. The SR campaigns organised by either NGO’s or corporations in this country continuously blame the individual, identify them as the source of the problem and warn them. The campaigns that duplicate similar ones made in the west are very cruel, and there is a reason for this. The advertising companies that the state and the national or multinational corporations do business with for a century cannot make campaigns that blame their employers they are financed by and announce the real felon. Then blame the public: don’t leave your TV in stand-by mode but switch it off, take less showers and brush your teeth with less water, and everything will be fine. The system does this for a lot of reasons, but there is one reason which is real; capitalism fuelled by excessive consumption. (As a Turk, how many less showers could we take?) Especially the USA and Japan haven’t signed a lot of international environmental protocols. Considerable amount of data provide sound evidence that the ecosystem will be totally destroyed if people consume as much as any Swedish, Japanese or American individual.

Consequently, while the primary job of advertising companies and agencies financed and managed by capitalism is to make films that pump consumerism, they make global warming campaigns together with other campaigns which are far from being rational, consistent, persuasive and logical. I think we have to examine the reasons behind this. Although we know that nothing will change, this issue cannot be concealed; this cannot remain as a social taboo. When we do not discuss it, nothing will change.

There is a danger that the individual precautions we take and especially the short-term solutions we find to solve the ecological problems derived from global warming worsen the situation, which is similar to the situation that the millions of air-conditioning systems aimed at cooling the world makes the world even hotter.

When we thank God that the air-conditioning system is making us cooler, as the agents who switch on the air-conditioner, we are part of the process and equally responsible for the consequences as millions of others in the world are. In the meantime, we are quite confused because we watch ads that claim our air-conditioning system is the most environmentally-friendly one. We cannot really understand whether this ad is a social ad or not; we cannot completely understand fully anyway. In this chaos, we do not have knowledge, curiosity and time to understand this process.

The solution to the problems of the world is evident: stop air-conditioning. However, can the NGOs, which were founded by multinational or national companies, and the films made by them or the advertising companies that design the posters for these ads say this? No, they cannot. They cannot tell people not to buy air-conditioning systems. Neither did Bush. They cannot tell people not to consume excessively. They cannot tell them not to throw their old cars away, but repair and use them. They cannot tell them not to speak on the phone more than necessary; they can tell them to speak more and more, use more detergents, change their new cars with brand new ones. They cannot make any clear, simple and understandable sentences to reduce consumption because all their resources and wealth derive from the companies that are nourished from the crowds that they turn into piranhas. Not only the advertising companies but also the NGOs that are established like sub-foundations of these companies find it difficult to tell the truth because of their structures nourished from these companies and their close relations with them.

It is warming up, water supplies and the main resources that nourish life on earth are diminishing. At micro level, individuals are primarily shown as responsible of this situation (which is not actually true; big companies and states are the ones who are responsible of this), and at macro level, the third world countries are blamed, which is not true either. There is no doubt that the USA and Japan have been committing more ecological crimes than Ghana and Jamaica.

Individuals, independent scientists and NGOs must take initiative to take action against global warming, which is one of the most fatal problems that humanity has faced, and all other problems like violence, rain forests, refugees, human rights, etc. because the advertising companies pumping consumerism and big NGOs in the centre that are dependent upon the USA and Europe and appear as sub-foundations of big companies cannot solve these problems. There is no chance that they can tell the national companies, the USA or Germany that support them to stop lying, that they pollute and consume the most and should make self-criticism. This would be the denial of the construction of advertising discourse and the self-destruction of their opportunities to exist.

Today, they talk about crisis, banks declare their bankruptcies, and we watch them understanding nothing. Actually we knew about this consequence; the ecological structure of the world cannot stand against this anymore. The financial structure cannot abide either. Everything has become evident, unhidden. It is ecologically, economically and also ethically impossible to stand that much consumption of a small minority (and believe me they are also unhappy) and the poverty that billions suffer from.

“You have to do shopping of 617 litres to fill a Beko fridge so that we could be happy,”: an advertisement slogan.

In summary:

  1. Unless SRP’s (social responsibility projects) are managed by independent directors, problems will occur.
  2. If SRP’s are produced by NGO’s in relation to companies, problems will occur.
  3. If SRP’s are produced by advertising companies whose job is mainly to increase consumption, problems will occur.

3.1.It is a problematic process to give both “consume” and “don’t consume” messages.

  1. The SPR’s produced dependently cannot reflect the real problems.

4.1.They point at the individuals as the responsible ones for the problems, which is even more dangerous.

4.2.When they mispronounce the problem, they cannot offer the correct solutions.

  1. A great deal of the effort and finance devoted to SRP’s which are produced among companies, advertising companies and NGO’s in collaboration are actually spent for the sake of the companies’ promotion not for the problems.

5.1.Both the effort and the finance are wasted.

5.2.Commercial ads are confused with social ads.

Week 4 – Living Together: Receptiveness, Transparency

It is evident that television, which determines our ethical and physical world, depicts the world as a scary place. This process of creating fear is an important part of the effort to make common deaths a willing, huge and homogeneous mass. In near future, the Internet may replace television. It is difficult to comment on what the Internet might bring due to its anarchic and hardly regulated structure which includes both hope and concern. Today, looking at what it brings, we both fear and rejoice.

It was aimed that media, which has been globalized and was thought to be an instrument that would create acceptance, could reach the whole world and make operations with similar methods. In order that media could make operations with global methods, the masses exposed to media should have similar properties. This is why, media and ads try hard to or do standardize us, make us all the same.

The extraordinary creators among us, the common people, produce films, posters, newspaper ads in order to convince us to do shopping in big malls designed by big corporations, buy policies from big insurance companies, put our money in big banks so that we could escape from the dreadfulness of the world which is also created and imposed to us by media. Advertisers give us advice, guide and rescue us, so ads are sacred. They standardize, rescue and bless us. They are kind of God; they preserve, forgive, berate, and show us the way, the correct way.

The third world countries have been in the centre of the process to depict the world as a dreadful place for a long time. In news programs, fictions or movies, and documentaries, when it is poverty, violence, environmental mass destruction to show, we watched, read or listened to things about African, Gulf or South American countries.

This process changed to some extent after September 11. It was certain that it would change. Nothing can be limited to one region only, and this is the characteristic and the secret behind life on earth. You like it or not, television, as an instrument to produce acceptance, has to use Madrid, London, New York, or New Orleans. This is not surprising at all.

Some recent incidents such as H1N1 (swine flu) and H5N1 (avian influenza) and the way they have been dealt with have proven the reality that nothing can be limited to one region anymore. Although the disease was first diagnosed in Turkey and Mexico, it rapidly spread all over the world. It was understood a long time ago that the attempts to make the ecosystem better cannot be achieved unless a global evaluation is made. The modern approaches to problems are adapted in this way. For example, no matter how hard they try to preserve Caretta Caretta nesting areas and the beaches in Dalyan or Patara, they cannot fully eliminate the danger of this species’ extinction unless they stop pollution and obstacles on their route to these areas, which is thousands of kilometres.

Especially in Brazil and in some other South American countries, the rich have taken precautions to protect themselves, their families, properties and wealth from the poor. Building barbed wire fences, private security forces, lighting around the buildings and in the end giving security guards the permission to use gun fires did not solve the problem, and finally they built electric fence wires. Eventually, this will not be solution, either.

As a result, there are no solutions to the problems during the construction, management and guidance of ecological, political and ideological processes other than a global approach. It is useless to isolate one area or region from others and attempt to find a solution in this limited area. The attempt to limit or put an area under quarantine contradicts the situation of being alive. No matter how high security systems you use are, you cannot protect your house in Sao Paolo or Lima from burglars. As long as they throw garbage to the sea in Lesvos, the sea in Behramkale will never remain clean although they do not in Assos. You cannot totally isolate a region, organism, place or ecological area from others. Let’s assume that you do; you turn a place into a closed and unreceptive area. When you do this, whatever you isolate, a house, a part of a sea, an underwater resource, an organ, a person, a forest or a cultivated land will eventually die. When you isolate a part of the sea from the Mediterranean, life there will end in a very short time. Isolating or closing that part will not result in protecting that part from pollution in the Mediterranean. On the contrary, it will completely kill that area rapidly. For the sake of cultures, security of houses and children, protection of ecosystem, fauna, flora, the right action to take is to create permeable processes and environments as much as possible and to take precautions to ease breathing, resting, receptiveness and mingling. If you try to create a process other than this, you kill whatever you try to handle or protect. In fact, you cannot create an unreceptive, closed environment; the power of nature will destroy the unreceptive, closed system that you try to construct. This case in issues related to the ecosystem is also the same in cultures and languages. It is the same in education and preservation of fauna and flora.

With no contribution to science, arts and philosophy in order to make the world a better place to live, if Turkey keeps on resisting the developments, the Turkish language will die out and be invaded by foreign words. In Argentina, burglars will continue to break into houses although they are protected with electric fence wires. Despite our cruel and dreadful measures that we take to eliminate swine flu (we set poultry on fire), swine flu will never end and similar diseases will occur. Drugs will be sold and used in high schools although there are security guards with guns. Wheat and barley will be affected by diseases. Nothing can be handled, considered and protected through isolating it from others. It is evident that problems cannot be solved in this way.

Recent scientific findings indicate that the earth is exposed to the unavoidable, close and serious effects of global warming, significant climate changes will occur not in a century or millions of years but in a decade or twenty years. From an ecological perspective, this demonstrates that the earth should be dealt with as a whole, and the solution restricted to single areas are pointless.

The bombings in New York and Madrid are also added to these environmental facts; if people in one part of the world are doomed to live under oppression, hopelessly suffer from poverty and injustice and others benefit from this exploitation, violence in this specific area will never remain there only. The virtual and physical borders added to the EU, the precautions that you take in and around your buildings, the satellites scanning the Earth from space cannot create unreceptive environments that you long for. You must even fear more when figures show that you have created such an environment because then it means you have and have been killed. Being totally protected, especially using defensive methods to protect yourself, means death. Life requires circulation, movement and receptiveness, and quality and plurality in all terms happen in this way. Life is receptive and open. You cannot stop life and sustain it in a limited area; if you do so, what is kept is death. Death remains where you put it, and it rots.

Today “purchasing homework” is a common problem in universities. Especially in universities where education practitioners have communication problems, we are hopeful that there is a variety of approaches to deal with the problems. Unfortunately, the general approach to the problem is usually punishment and making the existing punishments stricter. It is evident from the long introduction that I prefer making is that I am against this approach.    First of all, in order to prevent students from plagiarism, the precautions taken such as policing, penalising, making things more complicated and making students do their homework seriously are not the same but similar to what we do for our buildings like building barbed wire fences. Therefore, approaches concentrating solely on punishment seem to be pointless. Let’s assume that we have managed to solve the problem with all these deterrent methods, and students do not purchase homework but do it themselves. It will not mean anything when they are made to do it because of fear. Initially, they may have different methods like cheating or downloading information from the net as discussed generally. We need to find new, bright and appalling solutions for each method, but they will not end the problem. The most important thing is that we have to understand the problems in the education system, see the effects of them on students and find solutions. What is important here is that we have to quit the dersane[1] approach, which is “do not waste your time for a question/problem that you cannot solve”, question the “who wants to be a millionaire” logic that equates information with knowledge and misperceives knowledge and examine the university systems with a rational and global approach. We have to handle the process with the students rather than taking actions against them. We have to handle the process in a wider spectrum not in a limited area. We have to handle the process in order to understand each other not to scare and punish them.

Today purchasing homework is a global problem, and it is just a small part of the fundamental problem in education. This problem starts in nursery schools maybe and continues up to university. Unless it is handled from this perspective, it may not be solved. The education practitioners, the ones who do everything well, should calmly discuss whether this is a process of disciplining children. There are no alternative ways to solve the problem other than understanding and sharing it.

I have saved the best part to share to the end while writing this part. A disease that occurs in birds or a kind of fatal seaweed that emerges and spreads in the Mediterranean Sea or any abnormal situation can be recognized fast and the bodies interested in these cases try to create solutions for them. The majority of what I have written has already been pronounced more deeply and perfectly by Theodor Adorno and Umberto Eco in the 70’s. With some more research, similar thoughts can be found in Ancient Greece or the Hittite Empire. What distinguishes the problem in the 21st century from the previous ones is that the system that humans prefer demolishes the ecosystem and the living things and organisms, and new viruses, germs, diseases that affect computers, cows or poultry are being identified and  tried to be cured. Evidently, there are numerous problems such as pollution in oceans, destruction of rain forests, melting of icebergs and flu. The problems are obvious and so are both the reasons and the solutions. However, the diseases that the system creates in our brains are mostly secret. Maybe the majority of humanity is sick like birds or chicken, but the disease is hidden in our brains and souls. The education practitioners who continuously criticize and think that they have the right to dominate the rest might be sick or try to complete the process with the knowledge already expired. In order to cure ourselves and each other, we need to develop more comprehensible approaches that require us to embrace, listen to and understand each other. For example, we can discuss about the exam system, homework, and an education system that leaves all these out. Why not? Maybe it is also necessary to discuss about university, ourselves and what we do.

We have set poultry on fire, but we cannot set young people on fire, or they cannot be confined to restricted areas.


[1] Dersane is a Turkish term used for private establishments preparing students for various exams.

Week 5 – The Destruction that Advertising Causes in Language: When Poems are Lost

We have been using some concepts and words less. We recall them less, and if we call their function and place in daily life “an honourable recession”, they go away rapidly, which should make us fear of losing our objectivity.

This is a linguistic problem from one aspect and consequently a problem related with life. What poets cannot realize is that our language is contracting and getting sick. This is why, poetry is impossible now.

This is an incurable disease. Because it is an illness that infects language, it naturally infects life and also customs, traditions, salutations or shopping culture, daily language and consequently literature.

Advertisements are not the real cause of this disease, but they are the cause of its emergence and  the carrier because advertisements are produced by consumption culture, which is the centre where the disease pullulates.

In none of the advertisements, we are advised to act in solidarity and share. It is advised that we cooperate with their bank, the company selling water or cars, or that they cooperate with us. The question whether cooperation and sharing isolated from only advertisements or also from life and language does not provide us with a valuable answer. The essential point here is that these values have vanished in all of them.

Advertisements are not abstract short films, graphic designs or texts. They are the manifestos that explain how the owners of the world want to shape the present and the future. Advertisements are significant works through which we are informed, announced, introduced to, make love and accept how the economic, political and cultural systems of the future will be like. This is why; they are read, pronounced and shown more frequently than the declarations of military coup governments. They have the most talented teams of the world to have these ads made. The ones who get ads made are also the ones who construct airports, have factories, rule countries, manage sports clubs, and determine the interest rates and currencies. The ones who determine our lives and ads are the same people. If they do not want us to cooperate and share, we cannot do it, and these deeds vanish in life.

What distinguishes man from other animals is that he could stand still on his feet and discovered fire. To me, speaking and playing games are even more distinguishing features of man. If fire had not been discovered, today there could remain less people who can play games, make jokes, and write poems. However, if he had been satisfied with the discovery of fire only, that man would be far different from the one that exists today; he would be the one that ads imagine for and try to construct in the next century.

Utterances are sacred. Speech does not fly away. Neither does script.

Speaking is sacred (except for the ones who speak in paparazzi shows, weather forecasts, matches and advertisements.)

Maybe this is the reason why all teachings, religions, far eastern and western philosophies advise speaking less, or using language economically.

By the help of ads, speaking has become a commodity sold and bought. After the invention of cell phones, the message given by the ads is totally contradictory to the everlasting teachings of the world: speak more and more, and more…

We remember the meanings of the words “cooperation” and “sharing”, but we have forgotten what they really constitute to in real life. In the past, we used to give our belongings that we did not need any more to the ones who could not afford to buy them. We have forgotten this, too after the emergence of the campaigns that tell consumers they could bring in the old ones and change them with new ones with more reasonable prices. Words have been spoiled. When we hear the word “freedom” we remember a cell phone and a ‘free’ girl; in the past we used to recall different things. Words have been spoiled and polluted, but televisions repetitively say being polluted is good: “getting dirty is good.”

We have also forgotten to speak; someone should tell us to speak. The ones who tell us what we should wear, eat, which car we should drive to which place for holiday should also tell us what we should speak about so that we could speak as much as we could. In fact, we should speak more and more, and even so much more that we could run out of credits. The words are empty and meaningless, and spoiled anyway.

After the ‘free’ girl, no poet will ever use the word ‘free’ once again.

The ads that turn women into a creature living with a phallic symbol in their mouths diminished the sacredness of utterances. Literary area has also become a constantly marketed commodity.

The big lie that says everybody is unique and important has made modern man so identical. According to research, youth between the ages of 11 and 19 has never been so alike in history; they eat the same hamburgers, wear the same jeans, and drink the same coke.

Anyway, the ads could have decided to use women as a pornographic figure or collect all old fridges. “Freedom” could have been equated with a telecommunication company and a girl wandering around places she has never been before, “ideal” could have been identified with a credit card, and poetry could have become impossible. Nevertheless, could life go on without poems?

Is it possible to do something human and related to human on earth without İlhan Berk? Please imagine, think about the definition of life. Think about the life where the ones, who carry knives and blades, seek justice with bombs and guns, rule our daily life that has already turned lynches into common daily events. Think about the sound and picture bombardment that constantly disturb us. This is our daily life, the picture of the postmodern life. This is the remains of life when İlhan Berk and poetry are subtracted from the total. This is all we have. In this process, the possibility that there could be the role of “pack shots” discussed in the air-conditioned halls of tall buildings should be considered. We have to find the one who killed poetry, cooperation and sharing. When you kill poetry, you have to redefine all areas of life; home and street, city and homeland.

Streets used to be the places where we embraced each other, chatted and played games; now they have transformed into the objects of fear, says Mücella Yapıcı; an area that we avoid looking at and an area from which we escape and run to our places without glancing at each other. This is not because we are adults now; our children have grown up without really being children in the real sense. The houses to which we run from streets, Dobermans, security lights will not protect us as they did not protect London, Madrid, New York. Dogs did not protect us when we were children playing in the streets until midnight. Now the ‘free’ girl’s cell phones we put in our children’s pockets with loud orders to speak more and more will not protect them, either. It was poetry that protected us; İlhan Berk, Nazım Hikmet and John Lennon were protecting us. The sacredness of utterances, cooperation and sharing were protecting us.

We have to search and find the reasons why we have turned into a group of Atherina fish with no memory. It is not only the poultry that are spoiled, or the wetland and forests are corroded. There are similar defects in the human and ethical areas. We have to search for the reasons during this process when the tools that help us think, make decisions and be humans are taken away from us. We have to recall cooperation and sharing because man cannot exist without poetry.

WEEK 6 – Solutions Proposed: Local Small

I believe it will be rational to have an attempt to solve the problem concerning social ads or the production of contra within a structure that centralizes NGO’s and universities (or science), which is inevitable despite the corruption in the public sphere. This activity produced in a free area could be supported by corporations, market, and the government, but they could never be at the centre of this production.

If the solution is sought in the production realized by the advertising companies today, we will have demolished a value (area, source) that belongs to the public and is needed by everyone, and this might be quite difficult to compensate it in future. The situation I mention here is something more than an ethical evaluation but rather a technical and indisputable decision such as the prevention of contaminating drinking water.

The solution proposed here is not a research and production option that considers NGO’s and science as the centre. This is just a starting point to reach the solutions to serious problems, yet there exist no other starting points.

The production of any social ad or contra cannot be started without using a scientific method and centralizing institutions where individuals come together for the good of the society and work for the others.

There is no doubt that the extent to which universities are in relation to science and how much freedom/autonomy NGO’s and other institutions related to science possess is rather problematic. Moreover, the ones that compose media, law and health systems, and the parliament that we criticize of being contaminated are also the ones that compose universities and NGO’s. They are not established by the Japanese, Hungarian or Nigerian, but it is us, the people of this land, who found them. Accordingly, from certain aspects, universities and NGO’s situation is more tragic than that of the world of trade.

Despite everything, we have no other choice. It is quite difficult to solve the problems with the plans made by big corporations and by the state with a top-down structure on the periphery in the centre. The essence of building healthy relationships with the local and the solutions to the local problems lie in also in the local and the small NGO’s founded in the periphery and the direct relationships that scientists build with them.

The operation today does not resemble the one that I propose in the previous paragraph. The social and ecological social responsibility projects that are planned by big NGO’s with the support of big corporations in big cities are implemented in the local contexts. Although this is definitely not a healthy way of doing it as a century-long experience shows it, the operation is simply so.