Download this paper


Psychoanalysis is concerned with the desire for an impossible return – a return to a place before time began. This place offers a temporary reprieve from the pain of the world, a pain that is closely linked to the marks that time leaves on one’s body. To be human, however, involves leaving this place behind and becoming aware of past and future. Yet, the memory of this place persists and generates the Greek ‘nostos’, the unviable and irresoluble journey back home. Arresting past and future is a way of momentarily entering this place of timelessness and eternal peace.


One of the primary tasks of psychoanalysis is the temporary arrest of time and its translation into space. In psychoanalysis, everything one recalls in one’s past is suggestive of the present and predictive of the future, because the work of memory suspends time and turns the flow of events into an imago. Chronology is thus grasped and analysed in a spatial metaphor. Realising that historical time is nothing but a process of incessant repetitions, psychoanalysis seeks to momentarily detranslate time through the effects of the timelessness of the unconscious and retranslate it into space.


The linearity of time is rather constraining and restrictive. It does not give one much freedom to move back and forth. But space can be wide- ranging, teeming with possibilities: one can move up and down, left and right, forwards and backwards, reach a dead end and then make a U-turn. Space introduces one to the possibility of openness, play and creativity.