ABSTRACT

This article elaborates a theory of the unconscious inspired by Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Marcel Proust. Prima facie, the unconscious seems to present an important phenomenological difficulty: the unconscious as something that by definition does not appear, can mean nothing. Merleau-Ponty finds resources for addressing this anxiety in Proust. The unconscious is not the result of a mechanism that generates another, concealed “I think” but is the operation of time in perceptual experience, the loss of the past as it withdraws into oblivion. This loss is irrecuperable, indeed a “wound” that opens up and for which there is no healing.

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