Aziz Gökdemir's Archive | Information and Tools | Background/Backstory

couple in the snow by Oryal Gkdemir
Photo by my father, circa 1964.
I am not going to claim that any of this unique. In a way we all have the same story if we go back far enough.

A land is "discovered," conquered, and settled by people who then go about reinventing themselves. Their tales accumulate, each one a palimpsest. These may or may not survive the rocky cycle of branching and pruning we call generations. Some families hang on to every little crumb of the past; others shed and forget, either deliberately or because they're careless (or because they don't care).

Memory can gather new layers as it travels through time, much like the stuff in the attic gathering dust when left to fend for itself. Or it may be reduced to its bare essentials; it becomes sharper with age, no muss, no fuss -- obsidian-like, to paraphrase Jane Smiley.

couple in the snow by Oryal Gökdemir

In my case the trail is cold because: My people had no last names for hundreds of years. You see, last names are used to record and track property rights; when you're one of the millions of subjects of an emperor who officially holds title to everything including your pants and shirtsleeves rolled-up back bent working the fields, what good is a last name? Even if you had one, would you know how to write it?

We know at some point that they were Macedonian Turks fleeing the chaos that preceded the First Balkan War, and over time they traveled across a troubled landscape, acquiring family members whose origins can likewise be probed only a couple generations or so. And now the saga continues in the New World.

The rest shall be got to eventually.

couple in the snow by Oryal Gökdemir


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Snow photo by Oryal Gökdemir.

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