Notes on Time: Nostalgia, Immediacy & Future Perfect

If there is an erotics of space, as Alain Miller, interpreting Lacan claims, there is also an erotics of time. In fact, the article this stems from is called ‘An Introduction to the Erotics of Time.‘  Sadly, I can’t get a hold of the whole article, and I certainly can’t afford the $315 they want for a copy of it. So I’m forced to puzzle this out for myself. And it’s probably for the better that I do, since it forces me to frame it within the bounds of my writing and the subject I’m interested in.

I often think of time not as linear, but as emotional states: nostalgia, immediacy and yearning.

Nostalgia is not history, nor recollection, nor memory. The past, erotically, becomes a blend of what occurred, and emotions through the lens of later experience. We rewrite our past each time we recollect it. We may say ‘it feels like only yesterday’ but we KNOW it wasn’t yesterday. Distance colours memory with proportion, with understanding, with an affection for certain recollections over others. Nostalgia is then a love affair with a past; not THE past, but A past we’ve elevated above the others. Like a landscape across our perception, some things are foregrounded and others shrouded in the mist of our ambivalence. The things we hold onto, clutch onto fiercely with the desire to relive them again and again, become like a lover – familiar, known, the edges worn to softer curves.

Immediacy is the transgressive abyss of now. Already passed through in the moment of its acknowledgement, of its processing. There is NOW only in the Lacanian Real. The moment the experience is organized, Symbolized, recognized as happening, it is past. There is no writing in present tense. There is no desire, no lust, no love in now. There is only being, mute and naked in the void of the infinitesimal gap between the future and the past.

Yearning is always a yearning for something that has not happened. Even when it is a yearning for a different past, it requires us to imagine we might relive it, and therefore it looms like a ghost that might live again, be met again, be murdered in the immediacy of the present again. The future perfection of an anticipated moment, of a desire as yet unmet, perhaps unknown, and certainly unfulfilled has a jouissance of its own. Like a snake that tastes the scent of possibility on its tongue, swallowing the pleasure of the possibility before it is realized and lost. Because experience will always inevitably be lost to the past once it has occurred. The pleasure – or perhaps, more rightly, the Barthian bliss lies not in the anticipation of what eventually occurs, but the pleasure of the quantum fluctuation of what might be. And moreso than nostalgia, there are no evidenced occurrences to limit the imaginative writing of that possible future. By the time it arrives, we have tasted the anticipated event a thousand different ways. We’ve felt the delicious pleasure of the agony of the unknown and woven it in all the patterns of our hopes.

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