şkl, Deniz Gül

narrator Deniz Gül
term şkl
published 20 April 2021, Istanbul, Turkey

In times in which continuity doesn’t allow for a constant within the velocity of the epoch, even the deconstructed post versions of notions such as identity, history, and truth disappear in the flow of information, things manifest themselves with retrospective references; let’s take a look at an old word. The origin of the word şekil [ʃekil] is rooted in the Arabic version şakl (شكل) z [#şkl]. Şekil which means shape, form, feature, appearance is şaklīl/şiklīl (שכלל) z [#kll] in Aramaic which implies completion, shaping, adornment; is şuklulu [#kll] in Akkadian which amounts to complete, whole or completion, fulfillment.   


Şekil in Turkish refers to an image or a shape visualizing certain mathematical entities or used for demeanor, attitude, path, manner, style or else a particular way through which a concept, an idea, an event is differentiated or a whole that is configured. The sound ensemble ş k l and all its relevant contexts have given shapes to various concepts and words such as eşkâl [eʃkal] (depiction, description), teşekl [teʃekkyl] (figuration, configuration), teşkil [teʃkil] (organization, formation), şkül [myʃkyl](ambiguous), şâkul [ʃakyl] (plumb). Thus, it is worth examining the ensemble ş k l and the related words as mediums or singularities. As literally the word şekil is attuned with morphology, both in biology and linguistics.


Şekil with its simplicity and impartiality precedes emojis, signs, and symbols. Geometric şekil is the name given to 2-d polygons (with a determined space and circumference). However, şekil doesn’t necessarily require a space or a volume, a letter of an alphabet is şekil as well. Şekil as an intermediary unit organizing a notion or as an incomplete notion embodies a certain dynamism (transference or morphology), yet it is a feature which is apparent in its relation to here and now (time-space), in a way that is akin to taking a photograph. A definition assigned to a part of a whole, shape: a drawn contour. One might say that it is a form that often indicates the content without intervening or embodying it. It is flat and very much on the surface; a signifier that is not interested in the inherent or doesn’t investigate it, but rather observes the situated. It exists with connotations that are as collective (looks, trends) as personal, as abstract as archaic, a pyramid can tell us as much about Egypt as well as it is an abstraction and a geometric shape. A word to meld singularity and multiplicities… It can be used in myriad ways in a lot of contexts and always with its reference to the contemporary, such as possible translations: image, figure, shape, form, mold, feature, manner, configuration, style, fashion, model, way, format, mode. With its poetic articulations and its affinity to arousals derived by word of mouth, to slang and metaphors; with it being completely ungraspable, its openness to interpretation, we can say that it is a seductive, gleaming word. For example: “You’ve pulled a şekil” or “What is şekil?” (more like what’s up here, asking the mode, with the insight of the appointed subject’s environing what’s around, as a container.) What is the color, atmosphere, texture, dynamic of the environment? While the effects are affecting one another, it’s a state that appears in an unbiased, incomplete fashion that nevertheless suggests completion. If we were to remember the famous line of Bruce Lee, “Be water, my friend”; the carrier of the water can be interpreted as şekil and it suggests total flexibility and fluidity regardless of fixation.


Yet it’s also an interesting word that can’t be single-handedly covered by an interpenetrating “look”; one that is not essentialist however still contains a reference to physical or conceptual volumes along with conscious or unconscious, known or unknown protocols—a modulation of effects. How can şekil, namely ş k l  be thought of within the proposed framework of the conference: “subjectivisation”?


Obviously, there is a particular perspective in question here. Movement: displacement, shapeshifting; estimates of time, space and moment are integral to this perspective. What are the (sub)(ob)jects that are all along shapeshifting through potential articulations, attitudes, positions, and situations that can only be thought of in relationship to systems + conditions? How can we think of these (sub)(ob)jects especially within the contexts of configurations, manners, and ways? “Events are interconnected and they are cyclical processes; we are in a web. And our singularity is also in the web; thousands of chemical reactions live through simultaneous processes within our cells.”[1] So, how to monitor the involvement and effects of such a sound ensemble? Thinking that language is very much like a biological or a mathematical abstract zone that is always being constructed and reconstructed, I take the act of uttering a word here as we are in an irregular playing field where shapes shift, bend, meld etc. and boundaries are negotiated.

We’ve discussed the word şekil in the section above. Let’s take a closer look at the word şakul: A thread with a weight attached to it that shows the direction of gravity when it’s suspended. A reference point… Another word; şekala [ʃekala] that is “weight”. This Arabic word is derived from the Aramaic / Assyrian word şāūl שָׁקוּל "heavy". It has the same root as the Hebrew verb şāal שקל "weighing". Whereas when we consider şkül, the state in question doesn’t reveal its şekil, it is yet an undefined realm with challenges and obstacles. How about işkil [iʃkil]? Suspicion, even delusion… We proceed without fixating the narrative nor the description. And so, eşkâl, is a figuration that covers all the details that might reveal the perpetrator in a crime scene. And so, teşkil or teşekl are investigations of structuring, organization, and systems.


The theme “Subjectivisation” can thus be discussed in ways through the words that are sampled above, within the axes of modality, affect and perspective. I’m proposing şekil as a totality with unfixed, slippery boundaries and models that don’t subjectify the individual, but take the individual within assemblages and anomalies that can be traced along with dynamisms of <here and now>s and <then and there>s, so to speak.


Translated by Gülşah Mursaloğlu