Disclaimer : Solely my interpretation
This edition of the essay has a central character – Irfan.
Irfan is Mr. Popular for all the wrong reasons – contradictions, non-compliance to school’s regimen and indifferent to science and curriculum etc. He seems to have spent longer years at school and had physically & mentally grown more than the average 9th grader.
His Dabangg (1) attitude was exuberating when he challenged the price list at cafeteria or class assignments or simply system on which our society was built on.
Looks like the narrator enjoyed the negative attention Irfan gathered for his antics and eventually got attracted to call themselves as “buddies” as if they shared the same voice of self-righteousness and rebel without a cause attitude. They were destined to be Page-3 and worthy unabashed.
The growing friendship catches attention of teachers who sends warning signals to narrator’s mother and finally his father’s repertoire.
Narrator, as any boy of that age, listens to his mother’s sermon without mending his ways. This brings him closer to Irfan’s habits – smoking, drinking and most importantly writing a diary note every day in a piece of paper which was scared sanctum. The friendship also brings in comfort to ask some of the intriguing questions on Irfan to him. Who are his parents, where does his live, why isn’t his parents called for any reprimanding sessions at school…oh so many. Isn’t it similar to the one’s mind that bubble when you idolize someone? Hmmm.
When stolen silences and unwelcoming body language was the reply to the inquisitiveness, the narrator begins to concentrate on learning the contradictions, lying as a philosophy to breathe and opening to new knowledge.
Now the bohemian friendship is abruptly cut-off due to an unfortunate incident which happens during the football match at school. The revelry goes out of control when an ugly spat turns violent with fist fighting and culminating with someone in the crowd stabbing Irfan with a knife. Irfan falls on the ground in deep pain and is timely treated at the hospital.
When he returns back to school, he is quickly dismissed and expelled from school.
How many of you were remembering Johnny Bravo or Big Moose (Archie’s comic character) while reading about Irfan? Or someone from your school era who was notorious?
Is Engin trying to narrate a stereotype of a jock – all brawns and no brains here??
The first question worming my mind is the name of the central character – Irfan. It’s not Mehmet or Hakan or Sinem. Irfan means knowledge or wisdom in Arabic/Turkish. Viola, the essay is decoded. How??!!
Have you ever tried to understand the entity relationship of knowledge, belief and truth?
Epistemological(2) definition of knowledge is knowing by acquaintance, asking Wh (why, what, where, when) questions, hearing the Th (That, this) and challenging the existence with How. Acquisition of knowledge is possible through two fundamental means: by experience (empirical) and reasoning (logical). Over period of time, knowledge often gets tagged with a connotation of truth. Accordingly, if something has to be considered as knowledge then it has to be true.
Belief is a system of thoughts based on the knowledge acquired by us and stored in our brains. This should provide a mechanism to interpret new information. However this would have severe limitation since bulk of the knowledge we possess is second hand information we gain from other sources (trusted or otherwise)
Truth simply represents the opposite of deception. The measurement of truth is proportional to the belief built on the knowledge base. (Well there are other paradigms like facts and assumptions which Engin does not elaborate)
For example - Most people in Galileo's time believed in geocentric (Earth-centered, Universe). And the church, which was very powerful and influential in those days, strongly supported this theory/knowledge. After Galileo began publishing papers about his discoveries and belief in a heliocentric (Sun-centered, Universe) he was called to Rome to answer charges brought against him by the Inquisition (the legal body of the Church) and was finally accused of being a heretic, a person who opposed Church teachings.
A general knowledge of Irfan was that he was a reckless boy, who was poor at his grades and often lived by his rules. The teachers who took no interest to mend his ways, created a belief using safe assumptions that Irfan was boy of misdeeds. When Irfan questioned the system, he was either ridiculed or dismissed immediately.
It is interesting how often and freely Engin uses these three elements (knowledge, belief and truth) of thought processing. In our life’s too we presume that what we are expressing is being legitimately represented. Beliefs are readily interpreted as knowledge, and knowledge is often characterized as being true to lend it weight.
The accidental meeting of the narrator and Irfan had the same old stolen silences and uncomfortable body language. Irfan had settled his in life – with a belief based on his knowledge of being poor, orphan and unloved. If Irfan had lied in life, he was certain aware of life’s truth –death.
As a writer, Engin has expressed so many profound ideas in this essay. Starting from the basic Epistemology theories by Plato and Socrates, he carefully applies them to the modern world plagued by fake news, dodgy experts, mendacious media. It becomes more crucial than ever to work out what's true ourselves. Doing that means first overcoming our own biases.
Man is made by his belief. As he believes, so he is. – Bhagavad Gita
1. Dabangg (Hindi) - means a person who is not afraid of force/ challenge, daredevil
2. Epistemology – study of knowledge
@Lavander @sakhisangni @Jonsen as requested. Hope you enjoy reading the decoding!!
Happy birthday Jonsen!!