Erospa obviously likes to travel between continents. Its author Meltem Arıkan kindly sent it to me twice – the first time it got lost on its way between Istanbul and Paris, probably because the postman wanted to read it. The second try, however, was successful: I welcomed the book in my letter box (this time it came from Germany) to travel back to Bavaria with it and, shortly afterwards, again to Turkey… Erospa turned into a good companion, mainly because it took me into a rather unusual world.
Meltem Arıkan’s latest novel is different in style than her former ones. This time she provides her readers with artistic blends between reality and phantasy which now and then remind us of Nazlı Eray’s narrative technique. The universe we enter is highly digital and rather inhuman. Hackers have become the masters of the future and rule over mankind via computer programs. In a world full of violence and evil, they try to establish a new world order by using their own sense of justice. Their vengeance consists in organising the extinction of mankind. One of these seekers of justice is Erospa whose real identity is a mystery. On different time levels, we get to know all those who wish to destroy the world in its current state. They are convinced that man as God’s creation is a complete failure. God himself, the son of Ana Server, is so disappointed by the forms of human life he invented that one day he tries to commit suicide. His mother laughs at the absurdity of this attempt, pointing out that God forgot his own immortality when he wished to disappear forever. The “mother-son format” on which life on earth was based turned out to be destructive concept. Now, new ways of survival need to be found, since the programming of human beings constantly produces errors and viruses.
Similar to Orwell’s 1984, Erospa offers us a glimpse of a future that is not at all desirable. Language has lost its meaning, having been cut into bits and pieces under the impact of advanced technology. The dialogues that take place in a chatroom between hackers consist of so many abbreviations that they become almost incomprehensible. After all, words that help to articulate feelings are quite superfluous in a world where emotions no longer play an essential role. Man can be regarded as a robot whose technological skills are impressive, but whose ways to express his feelings are more than limited. This break-down of language gradually leads to alienation which is described in several chapters that have the form of a writer’s diary (and sometimes seem to reflect Meltem Arıkan’s own writing experience). Here, the importance of language with all its nuances is remembered with nostalgia.
In the fantasy world we discover in Erospa, there is a parallel universe (only accessible for some “chosen” hackers) where you can download a speaking cobra into real life or live in a house that consists of white and dark chocolate. It is as if we were suddenly thrown into a fairytale, just to be confronted with cruel facts only a few seconds later. The unpredictability of the characters whose real identities are more or less hidden now and then gives the novel the touch of a detective story. It can certainly be stated that the book’s structure, narrative style and technique are very original.
A few weeks after the trauma of the Paris Attacks had been “digested”, I started to read Erospa. The dark future with which Meltem Arıkan confronts her readers here, unfortunately seems quite realistic given today’s state of the world. Her novel clearly highlights one of the worst dangers that certainly lies in the loss of human qualities like compassion, empathy and altruism.
Erospa should be re-read in 30 years. We will see then whether Meltem Arıkan’s speculations will have turned out right. If yes, let’s hope that hackers with a sense of justice will take over to re-program us into real human beings.
Paris, 11/01/2016 © Mine Krause