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If we destroy it, where else can we go to? - 7th issue - Fall 2001

My Dad's Philosophy on Fatherhood

And a recent weekend
Arif Mardin - Profile by Julie Mardin
A profile of Arif MARDIN

Digital Arts and Article by Julie MARDIN

My Dad has often left my brother and me a little dumbstruck by his philosophy of fatherhood.  You did not ask to be born, he said.  It is the parent's duty to do all that he can for his children. 

"Come here, you bums," he used to call to us as kids. "I need to recharge my batteries."  He'd hug me on the one side, my brother on the other, half-choking us in his affection.

"One hand in honey, the other hand in oil," we recited mechanically. "Yuk!"  Translating common Turkish sayings often left them comically devoid of their charm, and was a favorite pastime.

My Mom recently told me that she had learnt a lot from Dad, and his enjoyment of a good laugh, even at his own expense, or rather, especially at his own expense.  She devises all sorts of nicknames for him: "The Alien," (he's hot, when others are cold, etc.), or when his cassettes, scrapbooks, tiny collages and countless photo albums threaten to overtake, "The Blob," or the all-time family favorite, "The Disruptor." 

"He'll be back," we say ominously in our best Arnold voices.

"Are you laughing at your father?" he occasionally retorts, in mock sternness.

My mother tells stories meant to chill us about the strict, authoritarian figure that she, and most people she knew, had growing up, and how lucky we were to have such a clown.  Her word, not ours.

I guess since he has achieved so much, he is someone who must feel, you know, pretty okay about himself, so, basically, we are allowed to make as many jokes as we want.  Not to worry.  The flip side of all this self-deprecating humor is a perfectly intact sense of confidence.

"Joe, listen to this.  This is fabulous," he will say to my brother before playing back some recent chord changes he's been working on, or some outrageous new techno tracks he's devised, which might prompt my mother's frequent question,

"Do we always have to talk about music?"

As adults, if we happen to get together for dinner, he is very prone to declaring a toast, and thanking us kids, of all things, for being there. 

Arif Mardin through Julie Mardin Arif Mardin (Dad's Sphere) by Julie Mardin

It has been a while since we have taken such a long family drive together.  It feels a little surreal, or downright archetypal, the family unit traveling through space and time: highways, strip malls, factories, eventually some glimpses of the water, marinas, and promises of country.  Everything is intact, as people know it to be, but we are post 9/11, and the gray and all the compromises to living in industry seem to have taken on an even bleaker shade.

World Trade Center-II by Julie Mardin World Trade Center by Julie Mardin

It is odd.  I've stcreate such scenesruggled to in my attempts at fiction, using my family as a loose springboard to tell a story about a terrorist attack changing the destinies and dynamics within a clan forever.

And in artwork, I also explore how female energy being in retrograde allows for such negative solutions to flourish, producing reductive, destructive means to achieve questionable ends, from every side.

We all have our disagreements about the current crisis we are all in.  I feel like we are in an obsolete world.  We have to draw as much as we can on our powers of creativity to dismantle and rebuild.  I get dismayed by all the realpolitik others around me seem to adopt, just as a counter to what they must perceive as the dangerous, or overdone, idealism of a child.  I have often had a hard time explaining myself, and after these events, my chronic shyness flares up, full force, and the most pressing thing on my mind, other than figuring out logistical ways that I can help, is to find my own voice.  How I wish I could, and the sense of the smallness of such a request weighs me down even heavier.  I assume the sense of one's own inadequacy wells up inside most of us these days...

Doll, World Trade Center by Julie Mardin Circle Super Lady by Julie Mardin

We are on our way to the wedding of the daughter of some very close family friends.  Once we get there, we have a couple of days of running around, of leisure, and a temporary amnesia from the recent tragedies. 

At the wedding I am seated next to a young man who has been funny and upbeat ever since we met at the rehearsal dinner the night before.  Somehow, that day of the wedding, we graze the reality hidden beneath our small talk.  He mentions that he has lost eight good friends.  I marvel over his incredible strength, his ability to be so friendly and festive, and am sad at my own rather inept condolences, my inability to come up with some meaningful words to help us both feel better.  Strangely, I feel myself becoming colder and more aloof, as all I want to do is say the right thing.  I lie awake with these thoughts at night.

Rug on the world by Julie Mardin Kite un by Julie Mardin

On our return, back in the car, we discuss the beauty of the events we had just witnessed, the amount of love we had seen, the perfection of the two sisters, the youngest one now just married, the oldest one there with her one-year-old, and my brother jokingly refers to us both as failures.  Neither of us married.  Neither of us with any kids.  Both of us intent on being artists, and completely and hopelessly impractical.

Our lightheartedness dissipates as over the radio we hear the news of the first strikes in Afghanistan.  Nobody says a word.  The reports go on, announcing, rather bizarrely, the simultaneous dropping of bombs and food.  People fleeing the cities.  "Zavallilar," my mother murmurs, "The poor people."

We stop at a McDonalds so my Dad can get some coffee.  There are huge crowds waiting to place their order, completely unaware or oblivious to the news.  The symbolism almost seems too heavy handed.

Back in the car, we listen to the vague, routine-sounding reports.  Those two days of amnesia are hitting me with a heavy hangover.  It is actually happening, what some had dreaded, others denied.  Then my father does something very unexpected.  He turns down the radio, and begins, as he often does, "I'd like to say something."  The speechmaker, he takes a few moments to compose his thoughts.  "Earlier Joe had said how you two are such failures, how we must be so disappointed you're not married, or further along, or whatever.  You have both grown up into good, strong, decent people, with nothing but the best of intentions, and that's all that's really important, and we have never been anything but proud of you."

"Here here," my mother says.

There he goes again, startling us with the purity of his sentiment, at such a crucial point in time, when we have to find our voices, nourishing us with something so simple, yet so powerful... 

Arif Mardin through Julie Mardin Arif Mardin through Julie Mardin 2

I know both my parents are fighters, my mother I had seen in action, and my father, despite the label, "The Great Non-Communicator," with which my mother had once lovingly dubbed him, he could be the one, as in my fiction, who could talk an extreme person back from the edge.  Though he might disagree, and think I'm a dreamer, he is the inspiration for that hero in my work.

– . –

More...
Jive Talkin' with Arif MARDIN by Mehmet DEDE
Biography of Arif MARDIN

This issue is dedicated to such distinguished artists and author as (alphabetical order):
We will be celebrating the second anniversary with the Winter-2002 issue.
Deadline: January 7, 2002
This e-magazine is under the umbrella of The Light Millennium, Inc.,
which was granted a NOT-FOR-PROFIT organization
status based in New York since July 17, 2001.

CONTENTS

TÜRKÇE

© The Light Millennium e-magazine was created and designed by Bircan ÜNVER. 7th issue. Fall 2001, New York. http://www.lightmillennium.org
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January, Spirit Logo
LMTV: Burhan Dogancay - Bridge of Dreams
Fugen Gulertekin Interview - Logo
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Erol Akyavas dedication
QPTV Dedication Issue
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