I came across this book by Daniel Stern, best known for his psychoanalytic investigations of the infant, where he discusses this subject I was previously noodling. I was thinking about clock time as opposed to Bergson’s notion of duration. Stern talks more of the Greek notions of chronos and kairos. Pretty much the same things, I think. From the perspective of the former, the latter doesn’t exist. Kairos, from the perspective of chronos, is that now moment that is always disappearing. You say “now” and that “now” even in the saying has already slipped by.
But it’s in kairos, Stern says, that things happen. Also this is where subjectivity unfolds, however silently or unconsciously. I think he is right about that—the self’s experience of the self must unfold in that disappearing now; there’s no other place for it to do so. Even the memory of something for the subject must appear in the now moment and the same with anticipations of the future.
So how to get into touch with that. In psychoanalytic sessions, to try to get in touch with that, Stern developed the “micro-analytic interview.” Before he gave it that mysterious name, in practice in his office, he spoke of it with his clients as the “breakfast interview.” He would ask, “What did you experience this morning at breakfast?” Mostly, clients would say, “What? Not much.” But then Stern asked questions designed to get the client to move from what the had done (not much) to his or her affective experience of what had been going on beyond and behind or right below the surface of that “not much.”
For example, I think I may go through a pretty thick subjective or affect laden “moment” just making coffee. Sometimes, yes, I do this distractedly or mechanically, with my mind elsewhere, but right below the surface of that I am aware that I don’t really like making the coffee. For one thing, making coffee is for me a really repetitious act. I get tired of the repetition. First the cleaning out the remains of the previously made coffee; then he counting out of all those scoops. Doing that requires I find the scoop to do the scooping with.
Sometimes the scoop is not there. Usually it’s right there in the bag with the coffee beans. Sometimes though it isn’t. Any why I must wonder do I buy coffee beans rather than pre-ground coffee when I leave the scoop in the bag of beans and that means in turn that the beans are getting all dried out, since I usually don’t close the package tightly. When the scoop is not there I get irritated because the scoop is lost. And there I feel frustrated because lately it seems I am all the time losing things. I have not yet mastered this really good idea: a place for everything and everything in its place.
Well, this is just a start of how things might look from the perspective of kiaros. I haven’t made the coffee yet, much less made breakfast.
I am wondering how this subjective interview thing might work from the perspective of teaching writing. Or what the implications of what it might be for the teaching of writing.