An Unexpected Love Story: MyFace Book

by Ö.Üstüner* 2012

“Shall We Reinvent Love?”: This very first sentence of MyFace Book is almost like a forerunner of an extraordinary love. Through this sentence challenging the lexical meaning of the word love, the writer Çiğdem y Mirol lets her readers begin a journey towards an unusual love, which she has invented in her world of letters. I have gained the impression that this journey continuing on a curvy road consists of three interconnected links called “The Lost Author”, “The Effaced Notebook” and “The White Pencil”. This demanding journey has countless stops. At every stop is hidden a different kind of love and a love relationship addressing diverse persons. Briefly stated, what is hidden at these stops is a kind of commitment, which we all are closely acquainted with but smooth over the cracks for a variety of reasons. 

“My Beloved Reader” & “Your Beloved Author” : Mirol concludes her letter, which she dedicates to her beloved readers, signing her name as the “beloved writer”. The love letter written by an affectionate friend trying to express herself uses the formal form to address her readers towards the end whereas she addresses them informally and cosily at the very beginning. But why does the writer change from the informal form to that of the formal in order to address her potential readers? Who knows?! She may have wanted to underline that her sincerity is far from being impudent and that it also embraces a great deal of courtesy. “My beloved reader, I am being so forward, but maybe I shouldn’t be so familiar with you. My respected reader, please don’t throw away this letter. Maybe you will like it, and even if you don’t like it, do share it. If you don’t share it, at least comment on it” (p.9). Another remarkable point is that she attempts to “poke” the reader and get him to question his virtual relationships, which he follows blindly by laying stress on the name of the book through mentioning such facebook routines as “like” “comment” and “share”. Please do not get surprised when the politeness felt throughout the letter turns into various other feelings in some other corners of the book. For instance, our narrator and scripter Çiğdem, underlining at every turn that she always wished to become a writer, implicitly manifests the reason why she wanted to re-invent love by saying “You and I can never become one which cannot be reinvented”(p.220) through which she actually encourages the reader to get into act. We can also say that the writer's love for the reader is a process with many ups and downs. The writer herself provides a good example for this argument by wishing to listen to eloquent and expressive songs on the radio in the name of the reader whereas she reprimands him without any hesitation because of his tendency to lose control of himself in the bottomless well called the internet. Just like it says on the bookmarker or My Face Book: “You the reader, no heart reader, leave it off, leave this computer off, it is enooooooooooooooooooooouuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuugh!... This sentence shouting at the top of its voice is of vital importance due to the fact that it reveals the writer's critical approach towards the internet. 

Narcissism in Love and Narrative:  There are many different kinds of love comprised in MyFace Book. We could even count narcissism among these! Mirol's this very attitude of “egoistic writer” discomforts the so-called “selfless reader”. This could be associated with her standpoint as she put it: „In our literature, as in our life, the characters who talk about themselves in a desperate way, who decrease modesty to the level of turning themselves into a nothing, who are depressive and who are helpless, have always been admired”. (p.325) This standing will lead readers who don’t have the habit of questioning what one has heard, seen or read, to label the writer as narcissist whereas taking a minority with the habit of questioning to a bivium: Does the writer's conscious discourse on autobiographical details make her narcissistic or her narrative? You can ask this question to Mirol's thesis or her witnesses. Mirol, being fond of innovations, has also invented witnesses for her love story. 

Clover / The Image of Chance in Love:  You will immediately notice the four-leaf clover as soon as you see the face on the cover of the book, drawn by the writer herself for its Turkish face, and placed on the mouth of the character both on its English and Turkish faces. This clover basically originates from the romantic writer Mirol's master's thesis, which begins with Rimbaud's line reading “Love must be reinvented.” and asserts to have reinvented the love between reader and writer through her studies going beyond the borders of a beginner. However, to me it seems like a figure of one sentence in the love letter in MyFace Book, reading: “Even though making myself so obvious may not mean that you can easily find me, at least there is more than no chance for our relationship” (p.8). 

The Seventh Item of the Bookperformance Manifesto: The last stop of the journey in MyFace Book is the “Bookperformance Manifesto”. We can describe this part of the book as the peak, which patient and attentive readers reach at the end of this uphill path. Through this manifesto, Mirol has created an “alternative literary explanandum” in her own way. She states that she has actually constructed this bookperformance as a “theory in practice” during her doctoral studies. In addition to this, she, in fact, puts flesh on the bones of her book, narrative and characters by organizing “authoreader performances”. Having attended two authoreader performances one of which was in Cologne (Germany) and the other in Izmir (Turkey), I can contentedly say that each event was unique in its own way. “Those” people, with all their unique life experiences, which they gathered and saved until “that” unique moment, determined the unique character and conduct of “that” specific authoreader performance at “that” specific event on “that” specific day. Moreover, participants, regardless of their talking or keeping silent, guided the performance just like an orchestra conductor. To give an example based on the performance in Cologne, even the most non-communicative participants, who were glancing round just like fearful pigeons in the first minutes of the event and seemed to be thinking “What the hell is going to happen here?” did not hesitate to play the role of the liveliest, most active, courageous and communicative characters while reading out passages, lines, or words from the book on the advancing minutes, thanks to the encouragement of the writer as well as to some other participants with entrepreneurial spirits. Some instants were silent. We heard raindrops lashing at the windows of the performance hall when it rained in the book. We were startled when a character in the book slammed the door. The wind between the lines ventilated the curtains in the performance hall. Erik's dog barked at us. Everything that would potentially appear as lameness in the framework of performative arts was accepted as the natural course of events there during the performance, because the perception of participants and their reflecting that to that “present” time was unique. Mirol regards each and every article and passage written on the book as part of the “reader-author performance” contributing to the bookperformance. The seventh and the last item of the manifesto of this construction, which interweaves the author, reader and performance in our perception, comprises perhaps the core of the love between reader and author experienced throughout My Face Book: “Love, here and now, between the reader and the author, is not a factual but a textual matter. This love mixes the act of reading with the act of writing. In this love, the spaces are filled in with imaginings. In this love, the negations are hidden. It is an impossible possibility to deduce a fixedmeaning (!) from this love. This love may be acted out in various ways. Such diversity will render the author authentic and the reader individualistic/freely romantic.” (p.404)

Is it the End or In the End is it the Love?: (invisible page.413) Considering media and reception studies, we can say that there is an authentic love in My Face Book. Winking naively at Rimbaud with her first sentence “Shall we re-invent love?” Mirol ventures a duel against Walter Benjamin very thoughtfully through her last sentence “Is it the end or in the end is it the love?”: Having “liked, commented on and shared” MyFace Book, I would like to pose one last question: If not as praiseworthy, how else can we evaluate Mirol's courage of questioning conventional patterns and reader-author relationship as well as her venture of re-identifying them while putting an asexual love forward, particularly when it is considered how dominant the deep-seated literal rituals and habits are? 

* Ö.Üstüner, an academic based in Cologne focused on film and media studies.