Letters From Now

By Ece Temelkuran

A new relation to reality


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Ece Temelkuran
Ece Temelkuran
Dear Friend,
I am writing from Rebel Café - again. I am doing my goodbye tour to all the cafes I worked in the last five years. Remy, Mr. Fogg, Botanicar… I am not sure all those waiters who got used to my horrible accent when saying ‘‘Produžena, molim” (A long espresso, please) and my obsessive writing for hours knew that I was writing books all that time. I always planned to give them the books saying, “I wrote this one in this café,” but never did. Being the anonymous crazy woman has fit my ‘I am nobody’ act, as Emily Dickinson wrote once, was too convenient for my fragile self. Being the person you are all the time is tiring, for me at least. Choosing the whole reality of being yourself without a break is somehow dull as well. I must have thought this when I was five. Here’s a funny story.
Being the person you are all the time is tiring, for me at least.
My mother takes me to kindergarten. It is my first day. But then she is late for work, so she leaves me there to tell my name. When I was growing up, people were not as protective about their children as now. Anyway, in the afternoon, she comes to pick me up and asks for “Ece Temelkuran.” The kindergarten teacher says, “We don’t have a kid here with that name.” Excuse me? “Ah,” she says, “We have a Temelkuran here, but her name is Aydeniz.” 
Being thoroughly dissatisfied with my too-small name because it didn’t fit my big plans of becoming an epic dancer -don’t ask- I changed my name when the opportunity was there to grab. Aydeniz is not a name in Turkish; by the way, it is two words together, Moon-Sea, which even today sounds to me as the best name ever. So, choosing my whole reality has not been my strong suit since from the beginning, one might think. But then, here’s the truth about reality. It compasses all the imagined facts as well, not excluding the fantasies of Moon-Sea. Imagination comes from reality, embedded in reality, and there is no place outside reality. What do you think about this? 
“Here’s the truth about reality. It compasses all the imagined facts as well.”
When did we begin attributing all the negative adjectives to reality? The painful reality, the messy reality, the harsh truth, etc. All these adjectives contain a cynical command to grow up. There is always a suggestion that one needs disillusionment—the act of facing reality, as if, automatically should induce devastation and helplessness. I think this perception of the word is very much related to our Zeitgeist, and choosing to adopt this perception is a moral and political choice we make without even noticing. What do you think? Do you think the word reality sounded so dirty in the 1960s when the world’s reality still seemed changeable? 
I was giving an online talk to university students the other day, and we talked about this. Their messy reality, I told them, is objectively far worse than the previous generations. You know, climate crisis, rising authoritarianism, democratic space melting as fast as the glaciers, the outrageous inequality, etc. But more importantly, the big reality seems like something that we can only protect ourselves from- a new relation to the reality that we unwillingly opted for somewhere in the late 70s when the system declared itself as the best possible one for humankind. What do you think? And do you think we can transform our relationship to the word reality?
Don’t miss out on the other issues by Ece Temelkuran
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Ece Temelkuran
Ece Temelkuran @LettersFromEce

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