Orhan Pamuk: The Fear of Being Left Outside, What Literature Needs to Address

Orhan Pamuk (b. 1952), Istanbul Turkey, Novelist
Orhan Pamuk (b. 1952), Istanbul Turkey, Novelist ~ photo courtesy of Mr. Pamuk

“What literature needs most to tell and investigate today are humanity’s basic fears: the fear of being left outside, and the fear of counting for nothing, and the feelings of worthlessness that come with such fears; the collective humiliations, vulnerabilities, slights, grievances, sensitivities, and imagined insults, and the nationalist boasts and inflations that are their next of kin … Whenever I am confronted by such sentiments, and by the irrational, overstated language in which they are usually expressed, I know they touch on a darkness inside me. We have often witnessed peoples, societies and nations outside the Western world–and I can identify with them easily–succumbing to fears that sometimes lead them to commit stupidities, all because of their fears of humiliation and their sensitivities. I also know that in the West–a world with which I can identify with the same ease–nations and peoples taking an excessive pride in their wealth, and in their having brought us the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and Modernism, have, from time to time, succumbed to a self-satisfaction that is almost as stupid.”

—Orhan Pamuk, Nobel Lecture (translation by Maureen Freely), 2006
Michael Watson‘s once said in a post, “. . . we seem to be caught up in the Bardo, spinning endless fantasies derived from fear, greed, and anger” … and we would add “hubris.”  
Priscilla Galasso shared these wise thoughts with us: “These fears and the overcompensation for them seem to be part of the shame spiral. The ego is vulnerable to shame, and manipulating that dynamic is common in our culture. If we were better able to be aware, responsible, but unattached to ego and ‘immune’ to shame, then perhaps these fears and stupidities would fade. Shame is useful for manipulation, but it is detrimental to enlightenment, I think.”
A bit of meat  for us to chew on as poets and writers, artists and musicians, therapists, clerics and bloggers … and simply as humans beings.
So what do you thing? Is Orhan Pamuk’s statement fair?


Jamie Dedes is a Lebanese-American poet and free-lance writer. She is the founder and curator of The Poet by Day, info hub for poets and writers, and the founder of The Bardo Group, publishers of The BeZine, of which she was the founding editor and currently a co-manager editor with Michael Dickel. Ms. Dedes is the Poet Laureate of Womawords Press 2020 and U.S associate to that press as well. Her debut collection, "The Damask Garden," is due out fall 2020 from Blue Dolphin Press.

3 thoughts on “Orhan Pamuk: The Fear of Being Left Outside, What Literature Needs to Address

  1. Somehow, whether through evolution or some other force, we humans all over the planet have developed Egos. Egos are always concerned with not being ‘special enough’. All sorts of dramas and stories hinge on that fear. One advantage of having a big brain is the ability to step outside of it every once in a while and be aware that you have an Ego…and that it is only that, an Ego. That awareness is my greatest hope for our departure from stupidity.


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