Bilge Karasu: Composing the fear

Spiral movement and perceptive destabilisation in Gece of Bilge Karasu
November '16

The first scene of Gece announces a plunge into darkness, a crossing of territories under oppression, those of a city where the bodies are condemned to abasement, those underground and inner of a body inhabited by terror. The obscurities of fear compose with those of writing because Bilge Karasu begins a descent towards the heart of the language, digging its powers of figuration as its spectral sounds. Gece performs this shimmering which holds together the disturbing lights and shadows, where hope and disillusionment regarding the collective becoming, the resistance and the consent to violence shape the matter of a reversible enigma. Bilge Karasu manipulates the energy of the fiction from a multitude of vanishing points, all born in the instability, indecision and unpredictability of the narrative. By ruining all transcendence, his writing works above all the questioning by ambiguity. It invites us, as it seems to me, to read this fiction in the light of what Michel Foucault calls the “spiral relation”:

Transgression carries the limit right to the limit of its being; transgression forces the limit to face the fact of its imminent disappearance, to find itself in what it excludes (perhaps, to be more exact, to recognize itself for the first time), to experience its positive truth in its downward fall. (…) Transgression, then, is not related to the limit as black to white, the prohibited to the lawful, the outside to the inside, or as the open area of a building to its enclosed spaces. Rather, their relationship takes the form of a spiral which no simple infraction can exhaust. Perhaps it is like a flash of lightning in the night which, from the beginning of time, gives a dense and black intensity to the night it denies, which lights up the night from the inside, from top to bottom, and yet owes to the dark the stark clarity of its manifestation, its harrowing and poised singularity; the flash loses itself in this space it marks with its sovereignty and becomes silent now that it has given a name to obscurity. [1]

Gece is an arrangement of short fragments in which various regimes of words succeed each other, including that of the figure of the writer whom we see annotating on the margins of the four major parts that compose the narrative, such as the notebook of a writing in progress. In this jerky structure, Bilge Karasu works the mobile interlacing of the different narrative foundations. What is important is that the language « strive for the suppleness and rythm of a body bending and rising as it gathers flowers » (page 21), we can read in one of the notes. In 1982, while the writing of Gece is ongoing, a writing that will last more than ten years, he composes and publishes a musical score for five voices “Çeşitlemelî Korku”[2]  (Variations on Fear). Written in prose, Gece does not seem far from this method of musical composition, the narrative relies on the multiplication of voices, their repetition, their lags and on the combination of the motifs and their counterpoints. A reading is then necessary in levels, in sequences, in variations to catch the movements of distortion of the narrative progression and the alteration of the meaning. This thought will then try to approach this construction in spiral of the motif of the fear, which progresses by contamination and which holds the energy of the fiction. The fear colonizes the language, it is inscribed in the project of writing and in the sonorous and visual matter of language. Bilge Karasu gives it to us for seeing and listening, in order to reveal the signs as the deep presence of the significant. Because the fiction is worked by its darkening, and in the alteration of its coherence leads us to that which breaks, and where it breaks, to that which sings.

This is an extract from the thesis: Poetics of disorientation, practices of mobility and heterotopic experiences of space in Robert Walser and Bilge Karasu / Poétiques de la désorientation, pratiques de la mobilité et expériences hétérotopiques de l’espace chez Robert Walser et Bilge Karasu.

La transgression porte la limite jusqu’à la limite de son être; elle la conduit à s’éveiller sur sa disparition imminente, à se retrouver dans ce qu’elle exclut (plus exactement peut-être à s’y reconnaître pour la première fois), à éprouver sa vérité positive dans le mouvement de sa perte. (…) La transgression n’est donc pas à la limite comme le noir et le blanc, le défendu au permis, l’extérieur à l’intérieur, l’exclu à l’espace protégé de la demeure. Elle lui est plutôt selon un rapport en vrille dont aucune effraction simple ne peut venir à bout. Quelque chose peut-être comme l’éclair dans la nuit, qui du fond du temps, donne un être dense et noir à ce qu’elle nie, l’illumine de l’intérieur et de fond en comble, lui doit pourtant sa vive clarté, sa singularité déchirante et dressée, se perd dans cet espace qu’elle signe de sa souveraineté et se tait enfin, ayant donné un nom à l’obscur.

[1]  FOUCAULT Michel, Préface à la transgression, Critique, n°195-196 : Hommage à G. Bataille, août-sept. 1963, p. 751-769

[2] « Çeşitlemeli korku », in Kısmet Bufesi, METIS, Istanbul, 1982. Interprété le 5 mai 2011 à l’Université Mimar Sinan ( par Alain Mascarou et Asli Aktung (à paraître). ✪


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