Drawing between Parōidia and Lyric Voice Obscure Songs for the Forgotten Memories of Childhood

Author: E. Bahar Avanoğlu, Istanbul Technical University


This writing attempts to unfold an experimental drawing project that I have been working on as a part of my on-going PhD research that critically deals with the end(s) of the project-ed drawing. Exploring and experimenting with parōidia and lyric voice as poetic inquiries into architectural drawing, the research project intends specifically to work on critical acts of drawing that discover creative understandings of manifold temporalities of architectural drawing. Working in the intersection of theories of poetry and architecture, the critical act of drawing discovers and explores the importance of the desirous ‘inner mouth’ as an integral part of the embodied act of drawing related with imagination, which is not necessarily in opposition with the optical (eye, the inner eye) or the haptic (skin, body) and thus cancels the mind-body duality.

The drawing project takes the poet-architect John Hejduk’s The Collapse of Time (1987) as one of the knots of investigation. The Collapse of Time is an obscure time-telling ‘device’, whereby a nomadic clock-tower collapses into its own death-bed and transforms into a sarcophagus of time. ‘Playing’ with and turning a monumental clock-tower structure upside down, The Collapse of Time could be interpreted as an austere, hermetic and potential parody [historically derived from para, meaning beside-, subsidiary-, mock- and –ōidē -song, -poem ]1 of a correct time-measuring device. The Collapse of Time – or this parōidia clock- structure – negates the right time,2 however with no comic effect intended, but evoking instead a serene feeling of terror between familiarity and alienation, whereby the time and its structure transforms into the ‘un-narratable’, and eventually into a further critical speculation on the temporality of a drawing.

Giorgio Agamben draws our attention to the obvious contradiction that lies behind “the concept of a serious parody”; however, he notes that “there may be great seriousness in the reasons that drive the parodist to renounce a direct representation of his or her object”.3 Within this inquiry, I suggest that this enigmatic parōidia structure does not demonstrate itself to be a style or a genre but is closer to being what Agamben describes as “the very structure of the linguistic medium in which literature expresses itself”.4

In order to further elaborate on parōidia as a potential poetic inquiry within architectural drawing, however, I will draw our attention to the larger picture in The Collapse of Time. The collapsing coffin-clock alone is not the sole element that is related with this particular parōidia structure, but is closely related with the poetic mechanism between the other structures that accompany the clock- tower: especially the booth to be occupied by a woman chosen among the villagers to repetitively recite the poem, The Sleep of Adam. I will argue that there is another parallel audial and oral construct based on the ‘Lyric Voice’, initiated by the woman (or us as the reader of the drawings), re-manifesting the duration of drawing into a particular anachronic construct.

I will at first discuss that this ‘Lyric Voice’ resituates a poetic, anachronic quest within architecture: a critical act of unfolding our ‘forgotten memory’ of language from childhood, related with our mnemonic site of trauma caused by the transition from the fluid oral scape to the lexical borders of the textual body.5 And yet, I will unfold a second critical and creative investigation on the existence of parōidia within lyric poetry: “against (or beside) the song, separating the music from the words.”6


1 Martha Bayless, Parody in The Middle Ages: The Latin Tradition, (USA: The University of Michigan Press, 1996).

2 David Shapiro, “The Clock of Deletion: Time and John Hejduk’s Architecture”, The Collapse of Time: Diary Constructions by John Hejduk, (London: AA Publications, 1987).

3 Giorgio Agamben, Profanations, trans. Jeff Fort (New York: Zone Books, 2007) p.40. He further argues that parody is “the very form of mystery”, p.42.

4 Agamben, Profanations, p.45-46.

5 My reading on ‘lyric voice’ is mainly based on Mutlu Konuk Blasing, Lyric Poetry: The Pain and the Pleasure of Words (USA: Princeton University Press, 2007).

6 Agamben, Profanations, p.39-40.

Keywords: Lyric Voice, Parody, Experimental Drawing, Temporality of Drawing