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Levine, H.B. (2009). Time and Timelessness: Inscription and Representation. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 57(2):333-355.

(2009). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 57(2):333-355

Time and Timelessness: Inscription and Representation

Howard B. Levine

Time is a real dimension of the physical universe and a subjective matter of mind. Depending on their relationship to Eros and the Death Instinct, our feelings about time and timelessness may serve disparate ends— positive or negative, constructive or destructive. The conflicts that emerge between time and timelessness will be affected by and drawn into our conflicts between the reality principle and the pleasure principle and by our capacity to acknowledge and bear the losses, hurts, and disappointments with which life presents us and the hopes and possibilities that life may hold. The “making” and inscribing of time—i.e., articulating and ordering mental elements in the act of representation, symbolization, and verbal linkage of previously unrepresented and inchoate protomental elements and states—are central to psychic functioning and the psychoanalytic process. Clinical material will illustrate these processes and their relation to the binding and mastery of trauma: internal and external, massive and cumulative.

Oh as I was young and easy in the mercy of his means, Time held me green and dying Though I sang in my chains like the sea.

—Dylan Thomas, from “Fern Hill”

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