The Standing Men and Women of Taksim

by Daniel Hartley



Once there was a man who stood below the sun and hurled his eyes aloft. At first he lasted but a fraction of a second before the blazing white was too much and he had to look away. But slowly he evolved. Each glance outlasted the one before by several seconds. As the days went by, the glances prolonged themselves even further, first by minutes, then by hours, until, after several years, glance mutated into look, and look into gaze, and gaze into knowing silent wonder. His eyes developed gelatinous films, transcoders of the light. He was a mystery to men. Some say he was insane; others, he was a phantom. But older legends exist describing how an angel hypnotized him, how every day whilst he slept a six-winged beast would come with holy balm and coat the spongy spheres beneath his lids. And each time the man awoke to resume communion with the sun, a flutter of wings trailed off into the bright white spaces of the world.

What the legends forget is that he was not alone. First one, then ten, then thousands of others joined him, until the standing men and women of Taksim stood for all men and women everywhere. Whilst they stood – as they still stand – scholars squabbled over meanings: did an angel really coat their eyes, or was it something else? But the standing men and women knew what graced them: it was the future. Scarred and ugly from the struggle, half-blinded from the tear gas, but fierce, beautiful and new.