I’ve been reading Pamuk for quite a while.  Feels as if my life and his (mine, in Panama, his, in Istanbul) were defined by this urge of westernization…and by this, I mean this longing of being away, of being in another place rather than in our own small world…At the same time, though, the feeling of pertaining to the city we grew up in is always latent. 

In those days, misery meant feeling out of place, in one’s home, one’s family and one’s city.  It was this greater community – where strangers address you as an elder brother, where everyone said “we” as if the entire city were watching the same football match – from which I’d cut myself off.  Fearful that this condition would become a way of life, I’d resolve to be like other people.  In my late adolescence, I succeeded in becoming the sort of sociable young man who was never at a loss for a joke, who was everyone’s friend, easy-going and insipid.  I joked incessantly, told anecdotes, made everyone in the class laugh by imitating the teacher; my pranks became family legends.  When I took the game too far, I was an able diplomat, dignifying nefarious deeds with fine euphemisms.  But afterwards, when I’d shut myself up in my room, the only way I knew to escape from the world’s duplicity and my own hypocrisy was to masturbate.

Istanbul, Memories and the City, chapter 34, To be Unhappy is to Hate Oneself and One’s City.  By Orhan Pamuk

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