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  • Writer's pictureAli Nesin

Ali Nesin wrote for The Station Post. June 2022

Novice painters and poets often admire their "works" greatly. They cannot see what they draw with another eye, nor can they listen to what they write with another ear.

They believe they have revolutionized the world of thought and emotion, that humanity has transcended to a different dimension, and that those who are aware of the beauty of their works will faint suddenly.

It is very difficult for a person to alienate themselves from what they have created and look at it from a distance. Unfortunately, I am not exempt from this weakness, despite my efforts. In the early days of its establishment, I was proud of the Village we created. I would proudly show visitors around, inundating them with small details that no one cared about. If they did not feel the excitement I felt, I would label them as beings who did not understand beauty and belittle them.

Years have passed. I've calculated, precisely 15 years have gone by. I have photos from those days in my archives; I look at them from time to time. It's like a desert! A thoroughly primitive environment. A field surrendered to the sun and dust. There's nothing lovable about it. But I loved it so much, loved is an understatement, I adored it! I'm trying to recall my state of mind back then. Describing states of mind is usually difficult, but this is impossible. It's best if I present to you an article I wrote back in those days.

The year is 2007. It must be June. About 50 or so children, youths, and a handful of skilled individuals are trying to create a village out of nothing. Materials: Air, water, earth, fire, straw, and a few pennies... Creating something out of such scarcity, one inevitably falls in love, I suppose. Oh! Speaking of materials, I forgot the imaginary; we had dreams. Here's that summer:

I guess true happiness lies in hope and imagination. "I guess" is not the right term, it's definitely so. One becomes as happy as one hopes and dreams. Neither yesterday nor today, it's all about tomorrow!

Years ago, a friend and I were looking down at a bay in the Aegean from a hilltop. A sea shifting between turquoise and azure. A small beach surrounded by steep rocks on all sides. The sun was about to set from the other side. The weather was neither hot nor cold, the presence of gravity was uncertain. Silence, tranquility, peace... If pink angels had descended from the sky at that moment, we wouldn't have been surprised; it was such a magical moment.

Both of us had the same thought: being within the scenery. All it took was a glance at each other. We descended from the hill. After wandering on the beach for a while, my friend said,

-This place looked better from above!

It had crossed my mind too, but I hadn't dared to say it.

-Yes, I replied, and we returned to where we came from.

Dreams are always more beautiful than reality. Imagining being somewhere rather than actually being there is more delightful.

For years, my friend Sevan Nişanyan and I have been dreaming of a mathematics institute.

Almost every time we met, we would draw institute plans until late into the night.

We must have implemented every kind of school model from Hindistan to Rome. We would lose ourselves for a few hours, unveiling the institute with all its details. More accurately, he would draw and explain, and I would watch. But there were times when I made plans and got lost in dreams without him. When it was finished, we would admire our institute with awe.

-Let's build another institute...


To be young largely means hope and dreams. Because if being young is defined by having lived little, then having many years ahead, in other words, having a future, should also be an equivalent definition of youth. The future means hope, and hope means dreams.

As one grows older, there's no choice but to reverse the sequence of youth-future-hope-dreams and try to catch youth by dreaming.

For years, I've dreamt of the mathematics institute that we've imagined with Sevan Nişanyan, and finally, it's becoming a reality on a mountainside as Math Village. I'm there now. As I sat down to write, it was approaching midnight; now it has passed. Volunteers and workers have immersed themselves in a laughter-filled conversation, unwinding from the day's fatigue. After chatting with them for a while, I set out to return to my tent. At one point, I turned off my flashlight. I had never seen darkness so intense. I looked up at the sky, wondering if I could see a star.

Oh... It turns out there was quite a commotion, the Milky Way had taken over and was in full swing.

As I pondered the future while walking in the dark, I imagined the young learners who would study mathematics here, the mathematicians who would prove theorems, and discover concepts. They too will walk on this pitch-black road one midnight, engrossed in their problems; at times they will raise their heads in wonder...

It will be a magnificent place. The reality will be even more beautiful than the dream.


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