What Time Is It?

Freud who pretty much felt life was suffering at the best wrote mostly about mental illness and didn’t spend much time defining mental health.  He did say once when asked say something to the effect that mental health (as the lack of mental illness) goes along with the ability “to love and to work.”  Later psychoanalysts took a stab at conceptualizing mental health more positively (as something more than the absence of mental illness).

One of those later psychoanalysts was D.W. Winnicott.  He emphasized, as did Kohut and others, that part, perhaps even the backbone of mental health, is the capacity to be creative.  He didn’t mean by creativity painting, necessarily, or playing the piano, or such truck.  In any case it’s quite possible to do any one of these things and still not be creative.  One can find many highly proficient even brilliant pianists who are nothing but technicians without a creative bone in their ten fingers.

Winnicott thought a person could be creative concocting a recipe; and in this context he makes a strange comment about clocks (which is what I am still thinking about re: duration and spatial time):

The fact is we create what is already there, but the creativeness lies in the way we get at perception through conception and apperception.  So when I look at a clock, as I must do now, I create a clock, but am careful not see clocks except where I already know there is one.

Winnicott wrote like that: more suggestively and elliptically than discursively or systematically.  He must have felt this last thought particularly elliptical even for him because he concludes the paragraph by saying:

            Please do not turn down this piece of absurd unlogic—but look at it and use it.

Well, I don’t think Winnicott was an idiot, so I have in fact tried to look at this piece of “absurd unlogic” and use it.

I am still stumped.  I get the part about being careful not to see clocks where there are no clocks; otherwise one would necessarily be hallucinating clocks, not a good mental space to be in.  Now though I am thinking about clocks and wonder if his choice of the clock, rather than say a chair or a stool, was not, even if unconsciously selected for a particular reason. A clock is different from a chair; the former tells us something (the time); while the latter does not say “sit.”  So I want to think that perhaps the clock was not randomly selected as he sat there at this desk, as something he was aware of because he needed to finish this damn essay and get onto something else.

Could the clock as the teller of time represent that objective world (the one we find) that in telling us the time tells us what and when to do it?  I say “objective” because people don’t argue about what time it is—there isn’t anything to argue about—if they have clocks and those clocks are set to the same standard or can be adjusted mathematically (say by time zone).

This presents to my mind my odd question for the day: can we speak of an object world without it also being a real world.  Apparently…Yes…

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