My notebook is full of bizarre and alarming comments made to me off the record recently. I am not sure how seriously to take any one of these comments, individually, but taken collectively, they suggest the mood of a madhouse.
"In this part of the world," one government official said, "two plus two doesn't necessarily equal four. Sometimes it's six, sometimes it's ten. If you don't understand this in your heart, you cannot understand this region. If you've grown up thinking rationally, you won't understand it."
Every story I write here -- even a feature about the Turkish art market -- is touched by the sentiment that behind everything is a sinister conspiracy. "There's 50 billion dollars worth of narcotics flowing in from Afghanistan, Iran," said one art dealer. "You can't put that money in the bank, but you can put it in art."