The Four Modalities of Temporality and the Problem of Shame
By Murray Stein
The psychological connection between temporality and shame is not a simple matter, to say the least, especially when one takes the unconscious into account. First of all, the topic of temporality is complex, and the link to shame is therefore also more than a simple registering of shameful things done present and past. Hinton cites Serres as speaking of temporality as a “folded and crumpled handkerchief” (Hinton,365). In this handkerchief, we inevitably find the stains of shame. In this essay, I would like to unfold and iron out this crumpled piece of fabric somewhat and try to look at the threads that go into its construction and see how and when shame enters into its weave and possibly how the problem of shame may be resolved.
Yiassemides begins her study of time and timelessness with the sentence: “Time is an extremely obscure concept,” and quotes the Mad Hatter from Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: “If you knew Time as well as I do… you wouldn’t talk about… it. It’s him” (Yiassemides, p. xiii). Already we have two metaphors for time: handkerchief and Father Time. Others could be added, such as the great archetypal images of river (or snake), procession (or train) and wheel (von Franz, p.136). Each metaphor offers a perspective on the human experience of temporality. My approach will be more analytical and abstract, however, and will not attempt to answer the question of what temporality is but rather suggest four modalities. Together they can be seen to make up the totality of experiences of temporality in human consciousness.