The Psychoanalytics of Temporising

In my recent work, I’ve been writing a lot about ‘temporising’, a concept I borrowed from Margaret Archer’s work in the hope of developing it further. In the reflexivity sense, temporising involves trying to find a solution to a present dilemma through the exercise of temporal agency.

I spoke earlier did this week at a symposium on social temporalities about the extreme forms this can take, such as extreme early retirement’s subordination of present hedonism in pursuit of anticipated future satisfactions. But the reality can be much more mundane, such as putting off an impulse towards healthy living until you return home from a trip abroad that involved a lot of time in pubs.

Temporising involves not just prioritising our concerns but establishing a temporal order in terms of which we pursue projects to enact them. But I’m unhappy with how rationalistic this framing is. It conceives of the affectivity of the concerns but not the affectivity of the sequencing itself. This is why I now find myself turning to Zizek for inspiration. From Trouble In Paradise, pg 68:

Imagine the following scenario: in the private sphere, I am unhappily married, I mock my wife all the time, declaring my intention to abandon her for my mistress whom I really love, and while I get small pleasures from invectives against my wife, the enjoyment that sustains me is generated by the indefinite postponement of really leaving my wife for my mistress.

There are pleasures opened up through postponement, ones which can also be transvaluative in relation to others: an X becomes sweeter still through being my last X, even if this investment in it as the last creates a compulsion to repeat. This is just one example but I think there’s a rich terrain opened up through this mode of analysis.

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