Two hours of Turkish Tea
August in Asia Minor is almost intolerable. Sun scorches the earth from morning to evening, giving its all; like a runner about to cross a finish line. Strangely enough, the best refreshment in this weather is hot Turkish tea. We call it “that Turkish tea”, from the nineties. We could not brew it properly in Russia and thought it a waste product destined for third world countries; the domain that Russia, the former great state, entered all of sudden over a couple of senseless and merciless years.
When dry, the tea truly looks suspicious; brown dust, almost without aroma. They somehow boil, brew and filter it. With some effort and in modest circumstances anything goes for tea. The Turkish people had a few hundred years to practice.
In Tefficia the dust is actually everywhere. Strange dust, not familiar. It’s not a black dust of Ekatherinburg, covering windowsills like mold in a matter of hours during the short summer. Not the grey dust of Moscow that burrows into your expensive shoes the first time you wear them. Not light, always spring-like dust of Yalta that’s more like pollen. Not domum vulgaris; your regular house dust that scientists claim consists fifty percent of dead skin cells.
Dust here is special. You only see dust like this in ancient towns that are like history itself. One can say that it is ashes of the great empires, if you wish to speak ornately and incorrectly (in other words, poetically). By the way, Joseph Brodsky invented a great metaphor: Dust is the tan of the centuries. The metaphor floated out of our subconscious here in Troy and it made it “trice” more valuable; we would say if we weren’t afraid of corny jokes.
In the Illiad the word “dust” is used seven times, and not once in relation to Troy. Dust exists only outside of Troy, on the roads, on the stadium. It is kicked up by the hooves of long-maned horses, but there is no dust on the streets of Priam. Homer’s Troy is a city that has not yet been covered by dust.
A whole another matter is Troy now, glorified over the centuries and ever present on the screens of today. Its dust is like patina on bronze, like craquelures on an oil painting; a stamp of quality and sign of authenticity. We just wish it wouldn’t get into eyes and fill the shoes…
Near the Eastern Gate of ancient Troy
Anatoly Belyakov: Personally, I took on writing a book about the Trojan War because of somewhat of an “economic motive”. I consider it filling a certain shortage. It seems like there is nothing to say about Troy anymore. There are thousands of books written already. But the one that is the most needed has not been done yet. THAT is the source of inspiration. I described its nature once before. You just look at the bookshelf and say “There are no books about this. I will have to write one.” Then you get paper and a pen and write to fill a void in the world of books that seemingly came from nowhere (or maybe a void in a world described as a book).
John Barth has a landmark paper that’s called “The Literature of Replenishment”. He talks about a slightly different thing though. Barth is a post-modernist and he was going to replenish gaps between genres, spheres, between science and common sense, high art and kitsch. And we, as I see it, need to fill one of the most horrendous gaps in our knowledge of ancient history. However, I suspect that most of our contemporaries find the topic of our research at least bewildering.
Oleg Matveychev: The main question that concerns our potential reader is why two idiots in the 21 century decided to write a book about Trojans and Greeks when everyone is writing about space exploration and nanotechnology and other gobbledygook like artificial intelligence? Who cares?
My answer is this; for the last ten years my main concern was ideology. My main premise is that for solving any kind of economic crisis, for any kind of growth the basis is always ideology. I assume that “the havoc is never in the closets, but in the minds” and if the minds are in order, the order will transpire to the economics and politics, because the economics and politics are nothing but ideas. And all societal relations are also ideas.
For example, “property” and “state” are ideas. You cannot touch them. But if a certain number of people have the same understanding of how these ideas relate to them – for example, the idea of “property” – then they will behave accordingly and predictably with each other. Same for a concept of “state”. There is some commonality for all ‒ symbols, flags, hymns, Kremlin, common history, same heroes, saints, sacred sites, holidays and so on. This common concept is in everybody’s head and it makes us one nation. Since we have this common idea of a state that means that there is a certain way of social relations. And if we don’t have a common idea, we won’t have a state or a nation. That’s why disintegration of a state and its people is disintegration of its symbols and ideology. And vice versa, the creation of new symbols, new social relations and a new order. The creation of a new government, is a necessary condition of its growth and prosperity; that is if the new offered order wins over the chaos or alternative order that looks like chaos.
As an example, Peruvian economist Hernando de Sote wrote a book Mystery of Capital. What’s the main point? The poorest societies in the world are those where there are no written and notarized notes, where nothing is registered and codified, where the resources and the labour are not turned into capital. Millions of people in Latin America build their huts toiling 24 hours a day without going anywhere. That’s because it’s not written anywhere that this dwelling belongs to Jose Ignacio and since there is no record, he can’t take credit secured by his house. And if he has a workshop, he can’t issue company shares and find investment that way. And his workshop will never become a international corporation. And the government, if it’s not present or weak won’t protect his interests internally or perhaps, internationally, as by American aircraft carriers. Americans have property rights, everything is written down, codified, and all courts, police and all other institutions accept it. Common trust and positive feedback is created within the system, when everyone knows what to expect, count on and to build a communal house on common rules and axioms.
Anatoly Belyakov: And it becomes a basis for growth and power and civil society, state and culture. I understand. Continue.