City and Self in Three Accounts of Istanbul: Lorichs’ Panorama (1559), Le Corbusier’s Travelogue (1911) And Pamuk’s Memoir (2005)

Morkoç, Selen
Three representations undertaken in this paper, on the contrary, highlight rich idiosyncrasy of self and other, partly through affirmation and partly identification of the “other”. Each case blurs and complicates the dichotomy of the object and the subject in its own way, which makes them significant to compare. They show that a humanism based on an interplay between subjectivity and objectivity has more potential in revealing cultural encounters through the eye of the individual. At this point, Said’s critique of Orientalism coincides with the hermeneutical approach to human sciences put by Gadamer in his Truth and Method (1965). Said argues that Orientalism is more than a fantasy; it is a constructed system of theory and practice about the Orient: “It is rather a distribution of geopolitical awareness into aesthetic, scholarly, economic, sociological, historical and philological texts…”(1978, 6,12). For Said, the relationship between the Orientalist and the Orient is essentially hermeneutical; a struggle to deal with the sense of otherness in front of a culturally, temporally and geographically distant object. Common stereotypes exploited by the Orientalist literature such as mysticism of sexuality and the privatedomain, therefore, shall be seen as ways to come to terms with the sense of otherness which fail to establish a proper understanding of the object.Gadamer in a similar vein critiques Cartesian divide between object and subject in interpreting culturally and historically distant texts and artifacts. He argues that understanding is a hermeneutical endeavor by which distant meanings are brought closer through interpretation. Understanding is only possible through a genuine dialogue with the object of the inquiry in which both the otherness of the object and the prejudgments and prejudices of the subject are confronted and contested. Such a dialogue with the object of the inquiry searches for the possibilities of a fusion of horizons between the subject and the object that eventually dissolves object-subject dichotomy (1965, 267-271, 340) (5). As I have discussed elsewhere, Gadamer’s proposition is engaged by many disciplines within the human sciences, especially for reconceptualizing methodological issues, which has serious implications for the cultural studies of art, architecture and history (2003, 126). Each with its own specificity, three accounts of İstanbul are evidence of the complexity of such a hermeneutical dialogue. In line with Said’s and Gadamer’s insights, instead of focusing on the problem with the opposition of İstanbul as East and its representations as Western and Eastern points of view, I would like to take representations as “self fulfillments” and İstanbul as the “other”. Therefore, the three representations of İstanbul are not that of object and subject; they are three accounts between “self” and “other”. The first account is Melchior Lorichs’ Panorama of Istanbul (1559). The second one is Le Corbusier’s travelogue Journey to the East (1911) and the third account is Orhan Pamuk’s recent memoir Istanbul: Memories of a City (2005). Both the genre of the works and the origins and identities of their creators are different. While Lorichs and Le Corbusier are foreign travelers, Pamuk is a native of the city. Although with experiential motives, the former two accounts give priority to sensual perception with an emphasis on visuality. Pamuk, however, exhibits a more existential perspective to the city through an increased mode of self-identification. Subjects’ varying positions vis-à-vis the city as the object are problematized in three subtopics; In Lorichs’ Panorama, object-subject dichotomy is not a matter of concern as the subject is already situated within the object. Le Corbusier’s travelogue keeps object and subject as separate categories and searches for a genuine dialogue between the two. In his memoir, Pamuk struggles between being the subject of his explorations of the city and the object of the Western gaze.


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Citation Formats
S. Morkoç, “City and Self in Three Accounts of Istanbul: Lorichs’ Panorama (1559), Le Corbusier’s Travelogue (1911) And Pamuk’s Memoir (2005),” ODTÜ Mimarlık Fakültesi Dergisi, vol. 24, no. 2, pp. 83–104, 2007, Accessed: 00, 2020. [Online]. Available: