Presentation of an Event: MyFace Book / Bookperformance

by Süreyya Karacabey*

The two components within the name of this event highlight two fun­da­men­tal char­ac­ter­is­tics of the book even before you start­ reading it. The first alludes to the per­sonal, and relates to someone’s most dis­tin­guish­ing fea­ture - the face. Nevertheless, those who’ve read Lev­inas would know that “the true face is the denial of the face,” and self­hood becomes a prob­lem when its seal con­sists of both “what belongs to me and what runs away from me”. As for the latter, it is an objec­tive enti­tling of the subjective or personal while hint­ing at the epis­te­mo­log­i­cal exis­tence of the book. Still, through the act of rev­e­la­tion, it obscures this very act by itself so the question arises: what is then this thing called “bookper­for­mance”? Let’s expand on it.  

What is indeed required about this textual work in hand is not an intro­duction to a book, but rather a pre­sen­ta­tion of an event. If an intro­duc­tion to any book refers to what is writ­ten in the blank space sit­u­ated at the range of the rela­tion­ship between the pre-defined /pre-identified and what accom­pa­nies it after­wards, then any dis­cus­sion about MyFace Book (Yüzüm Kitap, 2012), which estab­lished its unique exis­tence on the banks of “just now” by decon­struct­ing the cat­e­gories con­cern­ing the genre fic­tion, will at best become a pre­sen­ta­tion of an event.

This work is clearly a nar­ra­tive through which peo­ple, objects, times, short sto­ries and cases pass. The Speaker/Writer incor­po­rates a tech­nique -which we have been famil­iar with since the emer­gence of the avant-garde- in the tex­ture of her nar­ra­tive. This tech­nique is one which places an empha­sis on mate­ri­al­ity of the material. It is the explicit fore­ground­ing of the ele­ments that com­prise a work and/or the dis­clo­sure of the means used to create a work; thus the textual work becomes a piece of art not as a con­clu­sion but as a process. In con­trast with the con­ven­tions of clas­si­cal art (that pro­motes art as a sig­ni­fier), it is a form in which the sig­ni­fied is lib­er­ated. It is just like when a paint­ing does not pre­sent­ an object of con­tem­pla­tion but rather point­s to the char­ac­ter­is­tics of the wood, col­ours and the brush strokes contained within it. Likewise, MyFace Book broad­ens all the ele­ments con­sti­tut­ing the nar­ra­tive at all layers and embraces them radically.

In this work, the rad­i­cal­ness of the empha­sis put on the mate­ri­al­ity of the mate­r­ial fas­tens the sta­tus of the text in a strange inter­space; therefore, the inten­tion of the avant-garde is not only strengthened but also carried on to a fur­ther state. This is an extreme trans­parency, the fact that such trans­parency has been car­ried to a rad­i­cal line does con­sti­tute an unde­cidedness regarding the status of the text, which is a strange char­ac­ter­is­tic of the text, or a step to estrange its nat­u­ral­ state.
 While the book the­ma­tises its own proces­su­al­ity and demon­strates to the reader how it actu­ally does this, it makes two planes in the nar­ra­tive inter­pen­e­trate each other: 1) The proces­su­al­ity of the per­son­al­ity that is trans­mit­ted by the daily chron­i­cal as well as the lit­er­ary back­ground of the per­son attempt­ing to write the book; 2) The proces­su­al­ity of the book that is trans­mit­ted by the nar­ra­tive back­ground pre­sented to the reader.

The speaker of the nar­ra­tive reminds us of the means of auto­biog­ra­phy as a genre while telling us of her own author­ship process by stat­ing the ele­ments that comprise her, such as her mem­o­ries, cor­re­spon­dences, friends, fam­ily, dreams and the essays she wrote before attempting to become a pro­fes­sional in her writ­ing career. She con­tinues her nar­ra­tive by con­jur­ing up the means of other lit­er­ary gen­res as well. There­fore, the nar­ra­tive expands to another plane, which is estab­lished on the plu­ral­is­tic facil­i­ties of nar­ra­tives, by also involv­ing a the­o­ret­i­cal open­ing like how to write a book or what a nar­ra­tive is. The description of the book as a “per­for­mance” is already on the cover, but it does not con­fine itself to that and it even cre­ates its own man­i­festo explain­ing what is meant by “per­for­mance”. While con­struct­ing a proces­su­al­ity within all planes, the nar­ra­tive also embod­ies the the­o­risa­tion of what is actu­ally being constructed. While doing all this, and by demon­strat­ing how it is doing all this, the book can in fact be described as “the­atri­cal”. It is the­atri­cal, because the nar­ra­tive time is stopped by the speaker at a kind of simple present continues tense between her­self and the reader. The pieces of the past are always recalled from this very present and incor­po­rated into the nar­ra­tive right in front of the reader’s eyes. 

“They said that every­thing could be read on my face, and maybe because every­thing is bet­ter read on my face, I wasn’t able to write to you. Think­ing back, how could this be? There are some peo­ple in some places who talk about some­thing like the con­scious, the pre­con­scious, the uncon­scious, and even the sub­con­scious, and they say we need all these so as to be under­stood. I won­der if we have really been impris­oned within a sin­gle face. Have we been sen­tenced to this one face for centuries?”

Let’s look through the trans­parency MyFace Book unwinds for us, but let’s not get illusioned by with its cover, that is its face.

*Reader-Author-Performance by Süreyya Karacabey, a proffessor at Ankara University, in Theatre and Theory.  Originally written on Yüzüm Kitap, 2012 (MyFace Book, 2014) published in Turkish at Birgün Kitap: http://birgunkitap.blogspot.com/2013/03/bir-vaka-takdimi-yuzum-kitapkitap.html