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Haunted metaphor, transmitted affect: The pantemporality of subjective experience

Abstract

A major motivation for the rise of interest in subjectivity has been the failure of traditional theories of the person in predicting or explaining political affect. The failure may be attributed primarily to the inability of traditional theories to recognize and incorporate the collective and the temporal in their conceptualizations of human desire, experience and affect. While models of the collectively constituted subject have well replaced atomistic models of the individual, theories capable of temporal dislodgment of subjective experience are yet to gain a clear voice. Theoretic advances such as Raymond Williams’ structures of feeling, Derrida’s hauntology, or Abraham and Torok’s cryptonymy point the way to meaning based models of subjectivity that can accommodate multiplicities of both voices and temporalities in meaning and experience. A discussion of subjective experience as pantemporal is presented here specifically through an examination of metonymic and metaphoric functions as constituents of meaning and desire. Among other advantages, the pantemporality model is suggested to allow for analysis of such phenomena as intergenerational transmission of trauma and political affect.

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Notes

  1. Friedrich von Hügel, aka Baron von Hügel (1852–1925), Austrian Roman Catholic theologian.

  2. I would like to emphasize once more that this and all future references to ‘time’ need to be read as ‘time as experienced by the human subject’, and not the general concept of time as such.

  3. It may be worth mentioning that this segment of Kojève’s course is supposedly his re-articulation of a reading of Hegel done by yet another Franco-Russian Hegelist, Alexandre Koyré.

  4. Albeit not before the intervention of metaphor through what Lacan termed points de capiton.

  5. The double-axes model referred to here is derived originally from the teachings of de Saussure and used then by both Jakobson and Lacan. The model consists of a horizontal axis, A–B, which Saussure termed the axis of simultaneities, and a vertical axis, C–D, which he termed the axis of successions (see Saussure, 1959, pp. 78ff). Whereas the axis of simultaneities ‘stands for the relations of coexisting things’ (that is, signifiers in a system of signs), on the axis of successions ‘only one thing can be considered at a time, but upon [it] are located all the things on the first axis together with their changes’ (ibid., p. 79). The setup and theorizing of these axes and their function have changed from Saussure to Jakobson to Lacan, and remain a point of occasional dispute. The discussion in this text is built around the Lacanian model.

  6. From Greek: allos (other)+-agoria (speaking).

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Rahimi, S. Haunted metaphor, transmitted affect: The pantemporality of subjective experience. Subjectivity 9, 83–105 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1057/sub.2015.21

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Keywords

  • pantemporality
  • subjectivity
  • metaphor
  • metonymy
  • experience
  • intergenerational transmission of affect