Karagöz, Kafka & Kaş: On radical acceptance of unexpected realities


On the way to Kaş in my dream (image by Liz Cameron)

Still languishing in the in-between of not really REALLY sick anymore and not yet out of pain and fatigue at all, I am attempting to jump-start my brain.

It is so flacid, this womp of flesh in my head, that I am hoping not to lose my brain muscle.  It is as if my cross-cultural exploration passions and professional interests, analytical skills and puppet-listening prowess are covered by a thick film of grey sleep-inducing mesh curtain.

Today, however, I did my best to fight through the grey mesh of resistance, doing brain sit-ups in the form of free-writing a bit and trying to THINK.  Not much came of it, but I will continue – and softly, faintly, I can hear (and vaguely see) the puppets on the other side of the screen.  These are, as you may recall, or if you don’t know because you are new here, the ancient Ottoman-era Karagöz puppets who have taken up residence in my head in order to co-pilot my cross-cultural marital road-trip. And after watching their gesticulations for a time, I saw them pointing – and heard them saying “click on that old post, look at that – and think about ‘radical acceptance.'” And so I did.  And here is something I wrote last October…which still holds sway today. With love, m’lady


The puppets have been quiet these past few days, the pain from m’lady’s rotator cuff injury has drowned them out. So, I’m on leave from work & can only peck this out yavaş yavaş with my right hand. Grrrrrr. That’s where radical acceptance starts to come in. I need to accept inability to be immobile for a while, and to accept inability to type – well, fast, anyway.

This injury comes from, of all things I can figure, swimming over the summer, putting books into a bookshelf and waking up with my arms above my head (have done this since I was little).

It has been a *painful* time – mostly during the nights. And for much of the nighttime, I have had pain-induced insomnia. M. wakes up with me, and tells me stories about our first funny date to get my mind off things.

Sometimes the dog comes in between us and we all snuggle up warm, and I forget the weird electric eel that has taken up residence in my left arm, for a bit, that is. And eventually, I fall asleep for a bit.

Here’s the silver lining with this shoulder problem, the Karagöz puppets are showing up in my dreams, so although I don’t have much of those in this insomniac state, I enjoy what I get even more than usual.

I think pain must be good for dreams. I have refused to take any of the hard core stuff (e.g. Oxy Contin) as I am afraid of getting addicted to it not to mention the side effects. So, I can’t blame my dreams on opiates – much to Tiryaki’s dismay. Tiryaki, as you may recall, is my internal puppet with opium-addiction. Note that I used person-first language there, after scolding my students for doing otherwise (e.g. that opium addict vs. person with opium addiction), I have to do the right thing, eh?

Coke and jasmine in Kas, Turkiye

Coke and jasmine in Kas, Turkiye, but it wasn’t a dream – it was reality, the reality of globalization (Image by Elspeth Slayter)

So, my dreams have ranged from the standard anxiety dreams of packing with inadequate containers (e.g. paper bags for china and the like) to the more unusual conjuring of a University-days friend long receded into memory turning into a whale (along with his wife and twins) and commuting between New Zealand and the Provincetown coast.

By far my favorite, however, was waking up (in dream world, mind you), in Kaş, that elite but tiny town in South Western Turkey. Having only been there for one afternoon to visit a professional friend of M.’s this past summer (2012), I caught just the highlights of the place – and still swoon with the scent of jasmine in the hot sun below red ochre hills and long for the feel of well-woven and tastefully-colored linen peştemal between my fingers.

In my dream, I am walking along the marina, trying to find M. who is chasing after fisherman coming home for the night – wanting, of all things, buckets of sand from the bottom of the Ak Deniz (Mediterranean Sea) there.

Reddish hills on the way to Kaş (image by Liz Cameron)

Reddish hills on the way to Kaş (image by Liz Cameron)

As I hop from shaky boat to quaky boat on the hunt for my sand-seeking M., the puppets are trying to call out helpful hints for boat hopping (how do puppets learn those?), but are drowned out by Kenne, the puppet Queen of Manners, who suggests that I “work on M.” to make sure that he doesn’t act so extreme, so odd, so, well, agent-provocateur-ish. No radical acceptance for her.

In a mid-dream faux waking moment, I realize that this dream is in response to my horror M.’s tendency to say (and say loudly) the most unopportune things in the worst moments, such as “you have five children? You must be Irish!” to our new building contractor. Gulp.

I re-enter the dream as the sting of a Karagöz slap bubbles my cheek into dream consciousness. In a very uncharacteristically serious moment, Karagöz himself speaks quickly and sternly to me – telling me to remember the passion of the outlier, and the wisdom that lies with outliers as well.

“You must,” Karagöz reminds me, “support M. in his passion, this is the heart of his being, the pursuit of what is important to him – just as he supports you in this way with Slowly-by-Slowly in all of its madness! He left Turkey to be himself – and comes back on his own terms….support his terms, let the man roll around in deep-sea miniature mollusk sand mush if he must!”

In Kaş, we found a dog that looked just like our own - and it made us homesick (image by Liz Cameron)

In the non-dream world Kaş, we found a dog that looked just like our own, who put his paw on M.’s foot just like our own dog and it made us homesick (image by Liz Cameron)

Feeling the sting of his puppet hand evolve into the prickly heat of an embarrassed blush, I notice that Karagöz is holding a book of Franz Kafka‘s in his hand, the wind across the sea wall is blowing the pages a bit, and before I know it, Karagöz is showing me his more learned side, quoting from memory the following:

“Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.”

And there it is, Karagöz reading Kafka in Kaş, in my mental dreamworld, preaching radical acceptance. Got to listen to this lesson. Got to KEEP ON listening to this lesson.

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8 Responses to Karagöz, Kafka & Kaş: On radical acceptance of unexpected realities

  1. carinaragno says:

    Wrap thee in cotton
    Bind thee with love
    Protection from pain
    Surrounds like a glove.
    May the brightest of blessings
    Surround thee this night.
    For thou art cared for,
    Healing thoughts sent in flight…

    Carina )O(

  2. Alan says:

    Kafkan Gold . . or was it Black? Whatever, you could be on (to) something here 🙂

  3. Jack Scott says:

    You could do much worse than waking up in Kas, the scene of our honeymoon – lovely. I find wearing smoking patches in bed give me sleepless nights and funny, vivid dreams. I could stop leaving them on, I suppose. Seriously, rest up and take care of yourself. One hand typing is an utter pain!

  4. E. says:

    No doubt! TY! M. Says I’m a resistant patient, even w just r hand writing!

  5. E. says:

    Getting more accepting in my middle age!

  6. E. says:

    This is just lovely – and I. Found it the best of what internet friendships bring, a. Lovely & heartfelt surprise! Thank you! Keep up your important blogging & tweeting, must get alternate word out!

  7. carinaragno says:

    thank you much 🙂
    brightest blessings today and always,

  8. Alan says:

    . . sometimes the road just needs to be pounded – let ‘George’ take over when needs must.

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