<i>The Time Regulation Institute</i>: Dwelling in a Mechanized Language

Nergis Ertürk

in Grammatology and Literary Modernity in Turkey

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199746682
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199918775 | DOI:
The Time Regulation Institute: Dwelling in a Mechanized Language

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Chapter Three turns to the writings of Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar, by consensus the most important writer of the Republican period, exploring how literature thematizes and disrupts the workings of Turkish national grammatology. Tanpınar’s 1954 novel Saatleri Ayarlama Enstitüsü (The Time Regulation Institute) provides us with an indispensable critique of the presumptuous thought that we “dictate” our own language at will. Constructed as the autobiography of a writer-citizen surviving the transition from empire to republic, the novel registers writing in a “cut” Turkish, deprived of its Arabic and Persian elements, as a profoundly uncanny experience, offering a literary embodiment of the self-estranging subjective and social effects of the reforms. Unable to recognize himself as the source of his own words, the novel’s protagonist wanders from one temporal-historically absurd and senseless situation to the next, ending up as the assistant director of a fictive Clock-Setting Institute established to synchronize all the private and public clocks in Republican Turkey. The significance of this novel, I suggest, lies in the way it both examines and resists the cultural effects of the reforms, without simultaneously generating a new “logocentrism” domesticating the uncanniness it comes to understand as immanent in language.

Keywords: Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar; Saatleri Ayarlama Enstitüsü; The Time Regulation Institute; memory; uncanny

Chapter.  13305 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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