H. IBRAHIM TÜRKDOGAN
Omar Khayyam and Max Stirner
Translated by Ulrike Hirschhäuser
Omar and two of his critcs: Chesterton and Pessoa
of his critics, whose book I´ve read, is fool enough to label Omar an
atheist and materialist. To be either this or that is almost impossible for
an Oriental; the eastern world possesses too much expertise in metaphysics,
so to maintain anything like will be absurd.”
Gilbert Keith Chesterton defends Omar´s orthodoxy. An Oriental like Omar
will calmly take note of this statement, and laughingly he will pass the cup
on to his adversary and will tell him:
by the magician´s wine, it´s me!
disbeliever or idolater, it´s me!
sect bears its own hatred towards me,
am my own master, I am what I am.
words do not tell anything about the painful bliss of Christian doctrines.
Laughing and weeping as human features are attributed to the heart by
Christendom, the heart being God´s and Morality´s home. Therefore
Christians believe that “there is nothing else but religion that can make
In their opinion drinking wine is a “sacrament” and the ultimate
happiness bestowed upon a Puritan soldier in his battle against men.
Chesterton belittles Omar´s consumption of wine calling it a remedy for
mental and psychical disorders; “Jesus did not make wine a
medicament but a sacrament. Whereas Omar does not make it a sacrament but a
renounces God´s grace and renounces wine as a drug. Be it the Bible or
cocaine, - that does not make a difference for Omar; he thinks both to be
narcotics, which he renounces passionately. The purpose of Omar´s
consumption of wine is neither to evoke happiness nor to kill time; he does
not drink to forget about his grief or his doubts about the meaning of life.
He does not drink for the sake of love, let alone for the sake of hatred.
Pessoa seems to have a better understanding of Omar´s philosophy of life
than Chesterton, the Christian. Pessoa´s criticism makes us get closer to
Omar´s views of everyday life; “He is content with looking at roses and
drinking wine. A slight breeze, a random conversation, a cup of wine along
with some flowers, it is those things that the Persian sage ultimately longs
In these lines Omar´s spirit comes alive indeed; we might
only add: a home of one´s own after the fashion, neither master nor servant.
it is the following in which Pessoa really grasps the true nature of Omar´s
mind, “Khayyam´s dissatisfaction with life is not the dissatisfaction of
someone who does not know what to do since he cannot really do anything or
does not know how to do it. Such is the nature of the discontent of those
who were born into this world more dead than alive, of those who
legitimately depend on morphine or cocaine.”
finishes, saying, “It is the dissatisfaction of somebody who has thought
things over very clearsightedly and has drawn the conclusion that he is
surrounded by darkness; who has reflected on all religions and philosophies
and then has spoken in Salomon´s fashion:
‘I have realized that everything on earth can be summed up as vanity
and a temptation of the human mind...’ ”
There is no doubt about it, Omar is the one who faces life without being
blinkered, and he states: everything is transcient, do not try to find the
truth, that´s an impossible endeavour, it is futile, you will never know
why we go from here and why we come here. For Dschemschid´s glass
will be smashed to pieces in the end. That is why Omar hands us the cup and
stresses the relish of drinking wine. Drink it! Drink it! he shouts, for:
reflections of the world, they´re apparitions,
sage here will consider them to be true visions
life. Enjoy, do drink this grape juice here and then:
your illusions will become mere objects of derision.
 G.K. Chesterton: Ketzer (Heretics) Frankfurt a.M. 1998, p. 101
 Wie Wasser strömen wir. (We
are like water, flowing) Die Rubaijat des Omar Chajjam,
Erememiten-Presse 1984, Rubai No. 71
Chesterton, p. 105
Chesterton, p. 105
F. Pessoa Das Buch der Unruhe (The Book of Restlessness) Frankfurt 2000,
Pessoa, p. 261
Pessoa, p. 261
The legendary King Dschemschid owned a crystal chalice, in which
the whole world was mirrored, and
therefore it was the source of his wisdom.
 Die Sinnsprüche Omars des
Zeltmachers (Omar the Tentmaker´s Aphorisms) Publishers: Insel-Verlag,
edition 1998, p. 30