I’ll be working with two counter-intuitive observations. First: the experience of deadlines shows that so-called “homogeneous empty time” is anything but homogeneous or empty. The deadline seems to speak of the implacable indifference of measured time but it imposes itself in anything but a uniform manner. However you manage to mismanage them, deadlines are coercive institutions that distribute authority unevenly – penalties are imposed, extensions are granted – time runs out faster for the disenfranchised. But (secondly) the reverse is also true. Kierkegaard dwells on the paradox of Christianity: eternity enters time; in the leap of faith, the temporal continuum is interrupted. Psychoanalysis introduces the opposite paradox: time enters eternity. This occurs when the timelessness of the unconscious is invaded by the exigencies of schedule. Impervious to the exigencies of chronology, the unconscious is oddly attentive to the ticking of clock and calendar. In the activity of “working through” we can discern a simultaneous resistance to the logic of industrial modernity and a mobilization of one of its core devices.
Rebecca Comay is a Professor in the Dept of Philosophy, the Centre for Comparative Literature, and the Program for Literature and Critical Theory at the University of Toronto. She has published widely in continental philosophy, psychoanalysis, and contemporary art, including Mourning Sickness: Hegel and the French Revolution (Stanford, 2011) and The Dash – the Other Side of Absolute Knowing (co-authored with Frank Ruda, forthcoming MIT 2018).