On the Track of Hidden Aura of Mediterranean [Ongoing Story]

D 400 Highway — Mersin, Turkey

Capturing an aura: there is no way to capture such spirituality. Even you have a camera that can capture the soul of a city, you cannot take it thoroughly. You can smell the grief of soil, you can see the wind of the city which carrying tranquility that brought to you, you can hear the lament of the life and death. But these are only trace’s that you will never encounter the owner. And all this capturing process is about consist of a trace that you follow, nothing more. The city proposes to you reading itself, just like a novel about something not from here. Here it is, the owner of that traces becomes a writer that you reading its book, which writer is a philosopher of nowhere and you have nothing for understanding it. Like a mother or father that you could not ask anything to her or him. Mersin is one of my depressed parents, who has been writing ambiguous texts, creating uncertain sounds, and drawing meaningless sketches. And I keep reading it, keep listening to it as if my only way to understand that where I live in.

I would think that the Aura of the Mediterranean reveals itself on going to the west. No doubt, it was our family vacations to beyond the Silifke underlying in this thinking. Progressing in a certain line, using the straight route that between points a and b which brings ordinariness, draws the border of the discovery. That ordinariness would gain a powerful imagination sensitivity to me, with honing my desire of seeing beyond the horizon. We do not have the observation ability that peculiar for cats and birds, therefore, the things that we see are the reflections of possibility when we aim our eyes to the up and down, left and right. As I had not had that ability yet, which turns that reflections to the tangible reality, -especially on the moving throughout D400 road which positioned with the Mediterranean Sea parallelly-, an instinct sensitivity would rise somewhere in my chest, which devoid ground-direction finding feature, and would provide me perception for the Aura of Mediterranean. But thanks to W. Benjamin and his Aureole defining, I realized that I’ve lost that sense after 20 years. This ongoing story is about finding the Aura that I’ve lost and thinking about the places and people of the Eastern Mediterranean.

One of the characteristic textures of Eastern Mediterranean: Greenhouses.

Part 1: Notes from Cemetery

Christians of Mersin, Mersin City Cemetery

On the moving to the west of Mersin, throughout to terrain, the Aura of Mediterranean still reveals itself. You can see that there is a pure and gorgeous view of the Mediterranean. But the downtown like a slurry is combined with spindly palms, salty sea, dusty roads, and cheap concrete apartments. Nevertheless, our generous Mediterranean sun reflects its shine on them unquestioningly with all brightness. Apart from one place: Mersin City Cemetery. Tall cypress trees spreads all around the graveyard, blocks sunlight, surrounds graves of Christian, Muslim, Jew, faithless, murderer, and victim. Like an exit door or entrance hall of the world with all dimness. There is no voice and smell but powerful and heavy emptiness. Memories sealed in marbles welcomes us, but not to let any evoking.

Two Joseph, Mersin City Cemetery

Nonetheless, the meaning has been coming out from that emptiness and nothingness. They were not a visitant of these lands, but our common legacy. But at the same time, these structures have expressing such visitation. This is our common legacy. I’m not going to give you information about this graveyard. It does not matter when it is built or designed by whom. The thing that I want to emphasize is that togetherness in this place. They have been resting together, they have not been fighting or insulting one another for ages. No one can claim that these lands belong to them. I’ve encountered with ideal future in a graveyard, in the world of the past. That quietness in this place is uncomfortably calming. Contrary to roaming around in the city, I feel alright, whenever I see that contradiction.

A cross shaped headstone from cemetery - Mersin, Turkey

Seeking the tracks of truth is a sneaky trick for revealing the memory. The memory could be a lie or exploited; on the other hand, the truth could be exposed to deformation or composed of a complete lie. I cannot smell or taste to reveal the city’s memory, like Proust did, but create. However, the memory had not gone to him; he had tried to evoke his forgotten memory over and over. As a 21st century flaneur, in other words, as a cynic, unemployed and young person, I will try to reveal the city’s forgotten memory from its hidden or buried place. But the goal of this story is not reaching the truth or leading people to proper and logical behaviours. I want to push everybody, into a depression, for our grief-stricken cities that have been lost their values.

Graveyards are undesirable places, we put in them to the same category with waste yards and factories: category of distant lands. We are locking the “death” in this place, and the “past” as well. However, when we come here in some way, the only thing that can be seen is that the miserable and poetic togetherness. The memory of the past becomes a story, the grave becomes a storybook, and the whole thing takes till closing the cover of the book.

I am Burak Can Baknali, 25, Turkey based visual storyteller and journalist. I’m creating stories with focusing on societies and places of Caucasia, Black Sea and Eastern Mediterranean. I’ve trying write stories in English recently, with my all inexperience. So, if you see any mistake, sorry in advance. Do not hesitate to slap me.