By Ömer Faruk Yildiz of Kars, Turkey (MA, economics University of Istanbul)

In daily life, we are given chooses, at least sometimes. These various choices (real or imagined) have powers that can shape our lives: We may accept one option and reject the other, to say ‘Yes!’ or ‘No!’, etc.  But what about the other way around? Unlike the preciseness of these options, which is divided by sharp lines from each option, the complexity of real life creates more blurred transitions and pushes us beyond all these given options.

Ömer stands in front of the Ani ruins. Ani is an antique site that is located on Turkey and Armenia border. Once upon a time, the Silk Road was passing through in this town. It is also in the UNESCO World Heritage sites list.

Ömer stands in front of the Ani ruins. Ani is an antique site that is located on Turkey and Armenia border. Once upon a time, the Silk Road was passing through in this town. It is also in the UNESCO World Heritage sites list.

Most people often just focus on these restricted options, but some people are gifted with a different outlook entirely. What I speak about is the “revolutionary” vision.  Women and men in history whose minds are more creative and whose spirits are revolutionary break free from this vicious cycle of daily life and show other people the possibility of another option from banality. Thoughts like these were about to turn my mind into chaos. In addition to all these existential problems combined with the political and economic problems in my country and around the world; all these together were dragging me into a black hole. However, all these problems overwhelmingly affect poorer students and thus although they possess the intellectual capacity to complete their studies in university, they cannot because of their lack of economic resources. Consequently, they have to stop their university programmes.

Although all pessimistic signs of daily life, I always have believed that real life has the potential of enlightenment and I have to do something to find it. But what, exactly?

After thoroughly researching and entertaining different options, my first attempt to find some answers had been started. My first choice was to be a master student at university. I believed that something could be changed in that way. The process had started in a pleasant way for me. But I couldn’t see the same reaction from the other participants and fellows at faculty. They were less inclined to believe in enlightenment and more pragmatic about what research does as opposed to what enlightenment does! As time went by, I understood that the traditional university did not serve my purpose; indeed it was the opposite. After I completed my master of arts education, I severed my relationship with the university. Nevertheless, my excitement and instincts were still forcing me to do something. I thought, perhaps, I could organize and  meet similar scholars and intellectuals who experienced the same kind of alienation I did in the university.  

To connect with other people by the Internet has been providing some potential chances to find new worlds. For better communication with the world, most of my time has passed by reading as many classic texts and important books I could find. Thanks to the Internet for this, which makes it possible to share ideas and research questions with others around the world. Also, I knew I had to make a connection between the new world and the old one because I live in a city [Istanbul] that hosted three major empires in history that linked Europe to Asia and Asia to Europe. Istanbul, is uniquically situated and defined by its geography that also relates to both real materialist possibilities as well as deeply psychological ones.  For my part, I translated some papers, articles and videos mostly from English into Turkish about economic inequality, social problems that, despite many thousands of years of human development still remain with humanity today. In addition to my economic research, I also research philosophy of Islam and its relationship to the West, as well as economic history (especially economic history of the relationship between Turkey-Ottoman Empire and Western economies). I also love literature.

After a while, I was on a knife-edge because life conditions and pressures of people around me I was almost ready to give up entirely my search and research.  When I was about to end my attempts to find another way and accept the options that daily life tries to impose on me, as fortune would have it I met with Profesor Davis on a bus in Istanbul in March of 2019. He said hello to me. For me it was nice to practice my English, but I am also a shy person. But he has kept asking me questions, we soon realized we have a lot of interests together. Our bus route was long enough from the airport to the center of Istanbul that we could discuss things in more detail. We realized that we’re reading similar things and then, Davis told me about The Global Center for Advanced Studies and it’s college, GCAS. At first, I couldn’t believe it. On the one side of us we were riding on the bus past the Trump tower, and on the other side, we were discussing a way intellectuals and writers had formed a way to live in the shadows of neoliberalism. It was surreal for me to live into this very dialectic of inequality on this bus. After we parted ways in Taksim district, we planned to meet again over dinner to discuss things further. We did on March 18, 2019. After many hours of good food and wonderful discussions, Davis appointed me as a Junior Research Fellow. I was delighted beyond belief. And now, I travel with the other re-searchers in GCAS from all over the world. I am not alone, I have overcome alienation and isolation.  In a way, my dream has come true thanks to GCAS.

I am now in the process of applying for the PhD programme in Social & Political Thought.

Creston Davis