My Name is Red: Between the East and the West

A great painter does not content himself by affecting us with his masterpieces; ultimately, he succeeds in changing the landscape of our mind.

Orhan Pamuk, My Name is Red

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Orhan Pamuk is a Nobel winning Turkish novelist, whose Sun sign is in Gemini. The lower expression of the sign, its shadow, begets scatterbrained chatterboxes, but the more evolved Gemini souls possess an incredible gift for the language, a penetrating mind being  able to see links and connections between the most distant subjects. Communication and verbal expression is their strength. My Name is Red is my favourite book by this author. What I find the most dazzling is the idea of giving voice to the most bizarre narrators. Each chapter is told from a point of view of a different character and these ‘characters’ include a corpse, a dog, a tree  and the colour red. How very Gemini of the author to have given  voices to these entities, isn’t it?

Comparing and contrasting ideas is Gemini’s forte as well. My Name is Red shows the deeper themes involved in the famous clash of civilizations. In the time of the Ottoman Empire the great miniaturists from the East “longed to return to Allah’s blackness by means of color. “ For them painting was the act of seeking out Allah’s memories and seeing the world as He saw he world. Therefore old masters perceived going blind as the ultimate achievement of mastery. Going blind meant being able to see as if with Allah’s eyes.  For them individual style was a defect. Their masterpieces were all similar because they were supposed to depict the eternal piece of Allah’s vision. They lacked passion or individuality, though, and were one-dimensional. But at the same time they emanated spirituality, serenity and peace.

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Astronomers study the moon and the stars in this Ottoman miniature dating from the 17th century.

The innocence of this paradise is marred by western influences, which begin to change the face of eastern art. The peaceful world of old masters turns out to be be a lie because they do not acknowledge their shadow. It turns out that even old masters are prone to violence. I think the book shows that everyone desires recognition and that ego always strives to achieve individuation. This is why ambition and violent competition are rampant among miniaturists, who want to be seen as exceptional and unique. Even the Sultan wants to have his portrait painted, which is perceived as blasphemy by orthodox reactionists.  The colour red, an extremely potent symbol, enters the scene and announces: “I am so fortunate to be red! I’m fiery. I’m strong. I know men take notice of me and that I cannot be resisted.” It turns out that young masters have developed unique styles and they want to be recognized and adored for them.

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Picasso, an artist with an undeniably strong ego

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Orange Red Orange, Mark Rothko

Like the Bosphorus Bridge, which connects Europe and Asia, My Name is Red illustrates the interconnectedness between the East and the West. I hope that the two worlds can be brought closer by acknowledging each other shadows: the western contempt for spirituality and the eastern  scorn of individuality. These two do not have to be mutually exclusive.

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12 Responses to My Name is Red: Between the East and the West

  1. Thank you for this- I have not heard of this writer before. I very much like what you are saying about Gemini (I am Gemini rising with a 12th house Gemini Moon conjunct my south node of the Moon in Gemini). I hope to read some of this writing when I eventually have some time!
    gratefully,
    Gray

    • I think a 12-house Gemini is capable of grasping the meaning of the archetypes and communicating it to the world. Interestingly, my south node is also in Gemini and also conjunct my Moon (which is in Taurus). I definitely recommend reading Pamuk. He has a deep understanding of the human psyche.

  2. Interesting, yes I do like to think my 12 house Gemini energy gives me that ability. I wonder if you are around my same age? I was born March 18, 1975 and just narrowly missed having a Taurus Moon conjunct my South Node (my Moon is between 1 and 2 degrees Gemini). I have a Pisces Mercury square this Gemini Moon-South Node (3-4 degrees Pisces on my MC) and I resonate with your description here of painting representing Spirit and a perception of phenomenal reality that goes beyond limitations of words and language. I also love how you have worked the shadow into this. I totally agree with you, and I also see this here in the USA amongst “spiritual” people into various New Age philosophies at times- a neglect of the shadow side, which in the end reveals that they are actually expressing this shadow side quite egotistically despite all their talk of spirituality. Your description of the color red is also interesting. It reminds me of the Aries archetype, particularly in the process of individuation. I have an Aries Venus in my 11th house and although this has been problematic for me in some ways perhaps, I feel it has been a great contributor to my individuation. That vibrant Aries energy that can break free of consensus cultural limitations or manipulations. Aries can be a great help in this way and does not necessarily have to be overly selfish, competitive, and egotistical in my opinion, but rather just vividly sure of Self.

  3. I love your comment, all of them. 18 March is when Edgar Cayce was born and also a close friend who is one of the most eminent astrologists in Poland (I was born there). He introduced me to proper astrology. I was born on 8 June 1975 so we are the same age.

    Always hoping to read more from you,
    Monika

  4. Monika,
    I am also enjoying writing with you. We have some similar outer planet transits happening, especially with Pluto- though I notice your Uranus is at the end of Libra retrograde, whereas mine is at the beginning of Scorpio retrograde. I also noticed you are born with Mercury retrograde- that makes a lot of sense with the deep intention for archetypal work you have with your writing and thoughts. I wonder if you became more interested in astrology and archetypes around the age of 28 or so? Its hard to be exact with an ephemeris but it seems like that may have been the age when progressed Mercury had stationed direct and moved back to where it was at your time of birth. It looks like your Mercury may be conjunct my Ascendant, because my rising is 20-21 degrees Gemini- that would make sense to me with what I can see of your thoughts from your writing here. How have you been doing with the Uranus-Pluto square? Mine has been very intense recently, but I also have tons of transits happening. I’ve had a a Pluto-square-Pluto for awhile, but now Pluto is opposite my Cancer Saturn and so my natal Saturn will be forming a t-square with the next Pluto-Uranus square in the series. Also Uranus will be conjunct my Ceres, which is opposite by natal Pluto and square my natal Saturn. Plus Neptune is conjunct my Mercury and my midheaven, Saturn is in trine to my natal Saturn and natal Mercury and conjunct natal Uranus, Chiron is square my Neptune (same with you I believe). . . Ceres on my ascendant which is interesting because I found myself writing about her so much…. just a bunch of crazy transits! Blessings, Gray

    • Astrology talk, my favourite kind of talk! I see we have a lot of connections. I got interested in archetypes in 2001 and I believe it was connected with Pluto trnsiting in opposition to my Sun and probably with the progressed Mercury, as you said. My Mercury is conjunct your ASC at 20’34 Gemini, My ASC is 28’42 Leo.
      Thank you for your presence.

      • Yes, my ascendant is about 20’19 so your Mercury is very close, in my 1st house. Also interesting, it looks like my Mercury is conjunct your descendant in your 7th house. Pretty interesting! I like your recent post about myths, storytelling, archetypes, and fire. I have been thinking about similar things. I became more deeply interested in astrology a few years before you, for me it partially involved Pluto going over my north node and approaching my Neptune, I think, also Uranus would have been approaching my Mars (in Aquarius and 9th house) . I’m happy to know you- thank you for your presence.

      • And how could I have forgotten? I discovered astrology precisely on the day when tr. Uranus made a trine aspect to my Mercury!

  5. A very nice piece.

    I really liked;

    Like the Bosphorus Bridge, which connects Europe and Asia, My Name is Red illustrates the interconnectedness between the East and the West. I hope that the two worlds can be brought closer by acknowledging each other shadows: the western contempt for spirituality and the eastern scorn of individuality. These two do not have to be mutually exclusive.

    My mouth is still watering from looking at the Rothko!

    Much to my surprize last year I found out that Picasso spent time in the part of England where we live. – http://news.bbc.co.uk/local/sussex/hi/people_and_places/newsid_9106000/9106641.stm

  6. I really enjoyed this post, Monika…and I see your birthday is only a few days away! As a Sag with intense curiosity, intuiting truth congruent with my lived experience is a real passion of mine. I have been deeply affected by the Vedas, which I immersed myself in when I began having powerful experiences in meditation, and many of the Vedic writings emit a truth I simply cannot explain in words. I also see that a love of Jung and blossoming interest in archetypes holds so many keys to understanding human behavior on a broader scale. I suppose that balancing of ideas is my Gemini moon talking, which I actually just discovered on this recent Gemini new moon. 🙂 As first Saturn Return approaches for me in 2015, I am thanking my “lucky stars” I have your wealth of knowledge in my life. Happy Early Birthday! Love, Amanda

    • Thank you for the birthday wishes. I have got to be honest – I adore Gemini moons, so I am happy yours is in that sign. It is amazing actually you have so much wisdom and you have not had your Saturn return yet.
      Much love,
      Monika

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