Academic journal article Philosophy Today

En-Counterings of Time

Academic journal article Philosophy Today

En-Counterings of Time

Article excerpt

There are words that leap out of the circle of conceptual determinations.1 However old they might be, they give, however they are taken up, something to be thought which cannot be properly grasped through traditional concepts or, for that matter, by taking into account new ones. Whoever wishes to disclose the play-space of their meaning would do well not to rely on their lexical definition but rather to track their leaping-motions. Only thus can the opportunity not be lost in advance to catch them in the leap. In the leap- because the movement of these words is anything but gentle: every such leap, and anyone that would reflect upon it, follows another law. Therefore it is not only this movement to which attention should be paid, but also equally the movement of its description. No description dispenses with translation, and often enough it is a matter of the translation into a word in another language; the description is thus dependent upon a domain between these words, between their languages, one that lies in the leap of their translation and withdraws from the understanding almost all content of a linguistically secure kind. Thus it is with the word Unzeit, and with its translation into or from the French contre-temps. Unzeit- contretemps-considered over against canonical conceptions of time, is hardly a 'philosophical' word. What it says, minimally, is this: that something 'untimely' can arise-that something can occur, transpire, eventuate, which interrupts the 'natural,' 'normal' or 'normative' course of time, of a history or of 'history itself,' or that supplements this course without already having been anticipated in it. But that which interrupts, supplements or eventuates, and does so in a manner that does not correspond to the form of a course of time-or of 'time itself ' at all; in a manner, that is to say, that does not itself have the form of time, or of this time, but rather that of its interruption, of a pause, of a displacement or dispersal: what eventuates in this manner must nonetheless have a relation to one time whilst it belongs to another, and even as it belongs to something other than time. That which occurs in 'the untimely' is subject to the regime of another time, or else is subject to the regime of something other than time and its immobilization in sempiternitas or aeternitas-or is, indeed, perhaps subject to no regime at all. These two meanings of Unzeit-as another time or as something other than time-do not allow themselves to be assimilated to the traditional concept of time; both are more or less explicitly excluded, as nonsensical, from this concept such as it has been thought from Plato to Heidegger: the word Unzeit-or contretemps or "out of time"2-would barely find a place in the lexicon of philosophy. Because if there is an "out of time," then- something other, namely, than time proper, and one that cannot be reduced to this-there would be, thus-at the very least-a 'time' that is still outside of time, a second 'time' whose form does not correspond to the first; one that neither follows, nor precedes, nor is yet simply simultaneous with it; and so, there is a field of time whose extent is not determinable according to the measure of time-and thus not simply as time, nor even as a second time. Time, as Kant says with "strict universality" and "apodictic certainty" "has only one dimension; different times are not simultaneous but sequential (just as different spaces are not sequential but simultaneous)."3 If there is, thus, an Unzeit, an un-time-and it is not at all certain that there is, as such: for just as soon as an un-time is determined as such, according to whatever measure, it is already determined as a moment of time, one that belongs to the time of anticipation and programming, to the time of calculation and control, and has ceased to be an 'un-time'-; if, then, something can come about as 'untime' it can do so only in a way that, as something that is simultaneous (zugleich) with time (and too similar [zu gleich] for its un-time simply to come about as time), it intervenes in the passage of time as a fragment of another time, or as something other than time, something that is interlaced with and intersects it and in such a way is in an over-simultaneity (zu-gleich) with it. …

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