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Apathetic Agnostic
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Anything that’s strange is no good for the average American.
Ray Bradbury, The Martian Chronicles
We are the offspring of death and death delivers us from the tantalizing, fraudulent attractions of life; it is death that beckons us from the depths of life. If at times we come to a halt, we do so to hear the call of death… Throughout our lives, the finger of death points at us.
The Blind Owl [Sadegh Hedayat]
There are certain sores in life that, like a canker, gnaw at the soul in solitude and diminish it.
Yaralar vardır hayatta, ruhu cüzam gibi yavaş yavaş ve yalnızlıkta yiyen, kemiren yaralar.

..The Blind Owl / Kör Baykuş..


There are certain sores in life that, like a canker, gnaw at the soul in solitude and diminish it.

Yaralar vardır hayatta, ruhu cüzam gibi yavaş yavaş ve yalnızlıkta yiyen, kemiren yaralar.

..The Blind Owl / Kör Baykuş..

Back in mid-2012 when I was still at Penguin, I was assigned the cover for the first English translation of the famous Turkish novel The Time Regulation Institute. At the time, the manuscript was still in the middle of being translated, so for about 1/2 of the text each sentence was repeated 2 or 3 times consecutively, each time with slightly different wording. This made for some tedious and confusing reading, but in the end I was able to piece together most of the plot.
This novel is about the formation of an absurdly bureaucratic organization (The Time Regulation Institute) whose sole purpose is to synchronize all of the timepieces in Istanbul. The subtext deals with the tension between East and West, Modernity and Tradition, and the story is narrated by a very serious character who relays all of this absurdity and silliness with a straight face.
The original plan was to publish this book in hardcover as a special edition. I started off with bold, colorful, mid-century inspired designs, emphasizing the combination of Turkish tradition, timekeeping, and absurdism:

As soon as I had finished my Round 1 designs, the entire project was put on hold due to translation issues. About a year passed, and when the cover came back onto the table, I had decided to try some paper collage in order to give the cover a quieter and more serious type of intrigue, while still being playful:

These designs went over pretty well, but the cover was put on hold once again until mid-2013. At this point, the publisher had decided to scrap the hardcover idea, and instead wanted to release this in paperback as a Penguin Classic. A special dust jacket would be produced to go over the paperback cover, which would have die-cut holes to show through the art from below. 
This meant another re-design, in order to allow the jacket art to interact with the cover art, while still keeping each element interesting on its own. 

In the end, we changed the color to maroon for the final design:
Mark Twain in Istanbul, 1867
III. Ahmed Fountain

Mark Twain in Istanbul, 1867

III. Ahmed Fountain

The 2014 Winter Olympics Games will be held in Sochi in February 7-23, 2014. Do you know the story of Sochi?

Sochi is located between the Black Sea and the Caucasian Mountains. Thanks to the Caucasian Mountains which protect Sochi from the cold northern air, it enjoys the northernmost subtropical climate on Earth. Mild subtropical climate, the clean sea, the fresh sea air, the lush southern vegetation, the unique landscape, and healing mineral and water springs make Sochi one of the world’s best seaside and health resorts.

Thanks to its mild climate and rich flora, the Sochi region has been inhabited since the early ages (the Circassians call it “Sashe”). The history of the city itself dates back to the 5th century BC. The forefathers of the Circassians developed a civilization easily identified by their unique type of tombs, called “dolmen”. The Kapibge Dolmen in the valley of the Ashe River in Sochi is such a prehistoric architecture. It includes 3 dolmens, two of which are more or less ruined. One of them, however, has been preserved to this day almost in its original form.

Before the Winter Olympics, Sochi was famous as a health resort. Mineral springs helped the city to emerge as a spa and climatic resort since the days of antiquity. The best known are chloride-sodium waters of the Matsesta.

"Matsesta" in the Ubykh language means “fiery water” (Ubykh is an extinct Northwest Caucasian language once spoken by the Ubykh people who originally lived around the Sochi region before they were forced to leave their country in 1864.)

According to an ancient legend, when a daughter was born to Kerenduk, who lived high up in the mountains, the moon was reflected in the river, making the water seem as if it was on fire. Kerenduk named his daughter with the proud name of Matsesta – fiery water. The beautiful Matsesta brought a spring of healing water hidden deep within a cave up to the surface, making it accessible for the people, although she was not able to make it out of the cave alive. In honour of this brave deed, the spring, its water and the entire area was named after the beautiful and brave woman – Matsesta.

In addition to its healing waters, Sochi is also known for its amazing waterfalls. And undoubtedly, Psydakh is the most beautiful waterfall in Sochi. Psydakh means “beautiful water” in the Circassian language, and is located in the Lygotkhskoye Forest range of the Sochi National Park. It consists of three waterfalls, the lowest has a height of 2.5 meters, and the highest 30 meters.

In Sochi, there are many historical artifacts built by the Circassians and natural sites named in the Circassian language. However, curiously enough, you cannot see a single reference to the Circassians in any material about the Sochi Olympic Games.

It seems that the Circassians are carefully kept away from the illusionary world of Olympics. But the very site of the Sochi Olympics is a ruthless reminder for the fate of the Circassians.

As you know, the Olympics Games will be held in Krasnaya Polyana up in the mountains. Krasnaya Polyana means Red Glade in the Russian language. Although all the area is covered by blue sky with contrasting green forest and white snow, this beautiful glade is called the Red Glade since 1864. Do you know why?


The path of the Olympic Torch Relay explains why. As you may know, the Olympic Torch Relay is one of the most important ceremonial activities of olympic games. The Torch is ignited at the site of the ancient Olympics in Olympia, Greece, travel all around the host country, and finally arrives in the central stadium of the Games on the day of the opening ceremony.

The Olympic Torch Relay commemorates Prometheus, who stole fire from gods and gave it to humanity. Prometheus, in eternal punishment, was then chained to a rock in the Caucasus. The Olympic Torch Relay for the Sochi Olympics now follows the footprints of Prometheus, and travels from Olympia to the Caucasus.

The Olympic Torch of the Sochi Olympics will travel across 136 locations in the Russian Federation, and will visit all major centers in the Caucasus before finally ending its travel in Sochi for the opening ceremony on February 7.

The Sochi Olympics web site provides information about all these locations. Here is the official story of the Caucasus [the figures in square parentheses show when these cities were founded]:

122. Stavropol [1777]: Stavropol was a base to protect the southern border of the state. The city became the center of the spread of Russian influence in the North Caucasus.
126. Makhackala [1857]: Founded as the Russian stronghold in the Caucasus. The city developed as a port on the Caspian Sea and a fishing center.
127. Grozny [1818]: Grozny was founded as the Russian fortress in the lower reaches of the Sunzha River.
129. Nazran [1781]: The Russian stage of the city’s history began in 1810, when representatives of six Ingush tribes living in Nazran signed the act of allegiance to Russia. The same year, a defensive redoubt was erected around Nazran to protect the newly converted citizens.
130. Vladikavkaz [1784]: Vladikavkaz was founded as a fortress on the Terek River blocking the entrance to Daryal Gorge.
131. Nalchik [1724]: Nalchik was founded as a Russian fort in Kabarda, it has received the city status in 1921.
133. Cherkessk [1825]: The city was founded on the site of a Cossack village on the Kuban River. In fact, the first inhabitants of the future Cherkessk were Cossacks and their families.
134. Maykop [1857]: Maykop was established as a Russian military settlement on the Belaya River. In 1870 it became a county town.
135. Krasnodar [1793]: The history of Krasnodar begins from the time Catherine II granted Kuban lands to Black Sea Cossacks. The city was called Ekaterinodar. 
136. Sochi [1838]: Sochi, the resort capital of Russia, will be the finishing point of the Olympic Torch Relay 2014. The history of the city dates back to the 5th century BC, when the site of present Sochi extended to the Bosporan kingdom. Then Caucasian people lived there, and in the mid-19th century the active development of these areas by the Russian state began

It seems that the region is full of fortresses, and as the Olympic Torch moves from east-to-west, north-to-south, and ends its voyage in Sochi, they also moved in the same direction towards their final destination, Sochi, in the 19th century. The Torch Relay simply repeats the tragic history of the Circassians.

Although the official Sochi Olympics web site is silent about it, the North Caucasus was not an empty land (terra nullius) in the 19th century. It was inhabited by the Circassians who lived there for thousands of years. For example, Maykop was not established as a Russian military settlement in 1857, but was the center of the famous Maykop culture that was built in 3700 —3000 BC by the the forefathers of the contemporary Circassians. Unfortunately, the Circassians were forced to withdraw gradually towards the Caucasian mountains by advancing Russian army and military settlements in the 18th and 19th centuries.

The last battle between the Circassians and the imperial troops that took place in May 1864, in Kbaada (now known as Krasnaya Polyana), marked the end of the Circassians’ resistance and initiated the mass expulsion from their own land. This is why this beautiful glade is known in Russian as the Red Glade. And 150 years later, the Sochi Olympics will be held exactly in the same place, without any acknowledgement for the tragic fate of the local people, the Circassians. Do you know who they are?


The Circassians are a native people of the Caucasus where they have lived since time immemorial. They speak a unique language that includes almost all sounds a human can pronounce. They have developed a fascinating culture that reflects the beauty, bravery and mystery of the Caucasian mountains.

The Caucasus is described by many visitors as Eden itself, with warm, rich lowlands followed by majestic forests and alpine pastures, abundant rivers and lakes, superimposed by eternally snow capped peaks. These are the Frosty Caucasus of which Shakespeare sang, and which dwarf the Alps. Mount Elbrus, the tallest mountain in Europe, where legend has it, between its two peaks the ark rested on its way to Ararat. Kazbek, where Prometheus was chained, known in Ancient Greek legend as the land of the Golden Fleece. It is the land of fables and dreams from which Tolstoy, Lermontov and Pushkin drew there inspiration. It is from these mountains that the Circassians come, famous for there beauty, symmetry of form, horsemanship, longevity and perfect manners.

The Circassians protected their country and freedom against the relentless onslaught of various aggressors in their history. Having never been conquered, they have managed to preserve their ancient culture until the time of the Tsarist Russian invasion which began in the 18th century. They have resisted desperately and fiercely, for over a century, from 1763 to 1864, against the gigantic Tsarist Empire without any organized army and without any significant external support.

The Circassians were forced to withdraw gradually towards the Caucasian mountains by advancing Russian army and military settlements, as summarized in the Olympic Torch Relay, and squeezed between the mountains and the Black Sea in the early 1860s. The last battle was fought and lost in 1864 in Kbaada. The Russian military held a parade in the Red Glade on May 21, 1864, and their commander declared as the end of the “conquest of the Western Caucasus and the Caucasian War.”

This freedom loving nation was deported en masse into foreign lands following the conquest of their homeland. About 1.5 million people (90 percent of the population) were deported, and a third of them perished during the exodus from disease and starvation. Those who survived were dispersed into various countries.

This is one of the most tragic act of genocide and deportation in the history of humanity.

The Circassians call this tragedy “genocide and exile”, and remember it on every 21st of May. Most historians and political scientists around the world call it “genocide”. The Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) and its member, the World Circassian Association, called upon “the Russian Federation and the international community to acknowledge the genocide of the Circassian nation that took place in the 19th century and to grant the Circassian people status of an exile nation.” The parliaments of the Kabardino Balkaria Republic (1992) and Adygea Republic (1996) called for its recognition by the Russian Federation as a genocide. Even the first president of the Russian Federation, Boris Yeltsin, declared in his message to the peoples of the Caucasus on May 21, 1994, that he shares the sufferings of “those who have fallen on the battlefield, lost his life on the atrocities of war, and those who are being forced to leave the Fatherland, died in exile, having experienced the bitterness of the loss of homeland”, and acknowledged that the Circassians’ resistance was about “not only to survive on their own land, but also for the preservation of their indigenous culture.”

Whatever the term one may use to describe the tragedy of the Circassians, it is a fact recognized by almost everybody that the Circassians were expelled from their own country in a short time period under horrendous conditions and the Circassia was cleared of its indigenous peoples. The following maps show the extent of ethnic cleansing in the Caucasus.


Caucasus, 19th Century Caucasus, 20th Century


The goal of Olympism is to place sport at the service of the harmonious development of humankind, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity.

But the 2014 Winter Olympic Games will be held at the very site of this tragedy in Krasnaya Polyana, the Red Glade. The Olympic Games, that aim at promoting peace and international cooperation through sport, will be held on the site where the Circassians were massacred. The Olympic Torch will be proudly lit as if the Circassians never lived here, they did not died here, they were not deported from here.

The Olympic spirit is not compatible with the spirit of a genocide.

The Olympic spirit is all about peace and fraternity. The Olympic Games in Sochi could be an opportunity to undo historical injustice and to honor the Circassians. But the Russian Federation ignores the indigeneous people of the region, the Circassians, and denies their existence and historical tragedy. The Russian Federation tries to hide why Kbaada is called the Red Glade.

This is totally unacceptable.

The Circassians scattered all around the world are now in danger of total assimilation as a result of ethnic cleansing by the Tsarist Russia. They call upon the Russian Federation and the international community to acknowledge the genocide of the Circassian nation and demand an apology from the Russian Federation.

The Circassians ask for restorative justice to prevent new genocides and tragedies in the future.

The Circassians demand respect for all those who lost their lives during genocide and exile, and commemorate their losses in peace.

All those who ignore the Circassians’ just demands and deny the historical tragedy will share the blame of the gravest and greatest of the crimes against humanity.

The Circassians want an honorable future for all humanity, without forgetting the past. Are you ready to help?

A German cartoon from 1914 showing the lay of the political land as seen from the German perspective at the outbreak of World War One. As the text below the picture states, Germany and the Austro-Hungary Empire defend “blows from all sides”, particularly from the east in the form of a huge snarling Russian face. To the right of the image a banner declares that 10% of the proceeds of the map’s sale will go toward the Red Cross. The map is accompanied by a contemporary version of a French woodcut depicting a very different looking Europe of 1870. 

The images are from the Berlin State Library and are featured as part of the wonderful new project from Europeana, “Europeana, 1914-18” which is marking 100 years since the outbreak of WW1 with a remarkable pan-European pooling of material, from both individuals and institutions, relating to the “Great War”.

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Loss of love and failure leave behind them a permanent injury to self regard in the form of a narcissistic scar, which in my opinion…contributes more than anything to the ‘sense of inferiority’ which is so common in neurotics.

- Sigmund Freud, Beyond The Pleasure Principle

(via bbyl9x)


ten photographs portraying quotes said to sexual assault survivors by their friends/family 

more info about project unbreakable here

original tumblr here

(via thegodjunior)