by Süreyya Karacabey* 2013
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.
* 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