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September 11, 2013 / Congau

The Dream of Constantinople

Many have wished to get Constantinople back. Imagine if we could correct all injustice of history and create a new and beautiful world in our own image! The romantic easily gets carried away. He allows himself to be hypnotized by his own ideals and begins to believe in the possibility of the impossible. He believes in the world and in the future. You should not scorn the romantic.

When a war broke out between Russia and the Ottoman Empire in 1877, some people fantasized about the reconquest of Constantinople. The great Russian poet, Dostoyevsky, who had painted icons of words about how the loving Christ would win the world, now envisioned how that ancient city of Christendom would be captured with sword and blood. He is not the only one to have imagined how millennia of eternal peace would arise from war. Unfortunately for Dostoyevsky, the war was short and the peace prosaic. He himself died shortly after, but the romantics live. Long live the romantics!

Constantinople is a dream. Christ’s earthly empire has never existed and will never exist, but feel free to dream about it. Enter a church and light the candles in front of the icons, listen to the song and dream.

There are too many realists in this world. The realist can tell you that today Constantinople (or Istanbul as he calls it) is an enormously big city of thirteen million inhabitants, and it doesn’t have the slightest resemblance to the city that fell 560 years ago.

Only realists go to Istanbul. The romantic stays at home and dreams.

It’s far too easy to travel nowadays. Simple and effective; only a few hours are needed to arrive at an exotic destination and break your dreams.

Don’t go to Istanbul. Rather, imagine Istanbul the way it was and create your own reality. Who knows, maybe your reality is no less real than what you would see down there on the ground in a modern metropolis. Cars and buildings, dust and smog; that’s what you would see. Is that reality? In that case Istanbul is just like any other too big city in our too modern world, but you know that’s not true. Many things may seem similar before we have understood them, and understanding can only be achieved through abstraction; when the impressions have been lifted out of the concrete physics and into the world of ideas. The idea of Constantinople is real.

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