“Time does not stop” is the title of a famous song by the Argentine rock band Bersuit Vergarabat.[1] This could be the title of a television series, since the phenomenon of temporal distortion is one of television’s essential characteristics. This feature is quite frequent in recent series. However, the limitlessness of the contemporary experience of time is related to a phenomenon of clinical precision: permanent urgency. “Fuck the average viewer,” proclaims the alter ego of David Simon in Treme; the series of the new golden age of American television do not move backwards. They exploit technology as much as possible to express themselves, and thus install the paradoxes of time in contemporary subjectivity.[2] For example, “The police dramas Without a Trace (CBS: 2002) and Cold Case (CBS: 2003) have renewed the genre with the use of temporal disorder and variable focus, to which Boomtown (NBC: 2002-2003) incorporated a riskier use of focus that added complexity to the story. As a narrative experiment, 24 is structured as a story in real time, with each chapter dedicated to one hour in the life of the characters and one day for each season.”[3] The aim is to produce a texture or artifice of time beyond the notions of beginning and end, “unlike plot-driven entertainment, there is no closure in real life. Not really”.[4] The message of The End that used to close traditional films of the past does not exist anymore, no peaceful and assured end awaits us; instead, and most likely, some prequel or sequel, or a contemporary but contingent fragment of the so-called trans-platform model, is later released. Beyond any possible genealogy of seriality that can be made in art history, one of the main phenomena that the current series poses is the absence of a clear end, a well-defined quilting point, that re-signifies the plot. This absence or distortion constitutes a key coordinate to understand that tonality of urgency of contemporary anxiety.

We are talking about the subjective urgency in times of the non-existence of the Other. Paradoxically, the Other does not exist and Time does not stop. These are times in which the word is hardly a scansion, so we are in a period very different from the Freudian one. At that time, as Jacques Lacan comments in his Seminar Freud’s Papers on Technique, it was the phenomenon of the irruption of the unconscious that determined the urgency: “So here we are presented with a question – what is the structure of this speech which is beyond discourse? The Freudian innovation, in comparison with Saint Augustine, is the revelation, within the phenomenon, of these subjective, experienced moments, in which speech which goes beyond the discoursing subject emerges. An innovation that is so striking that it is always with difficulty that we can believe that it was never previously perceived. No doubt it was necessary for the common run of men to be caught up for some time in a rather perturbed, perhaps even refracted, and in some way inhuman, alienating, discourse for this speech to become manifest with such acuteness, such immediacy, such urgency.”[5] At present, the signifier, in its attribute of surprise, has lost ground as an instrument of discontinuity and cutting. The coordinates of the social Other have changed, the Lacanian writing of capitalist discourse as infinite extension of consumption, and the Millerian[6] notion of dispersion of the discursive structure, would allow us to take the first conceptual steps of an investigation in this regard. In this way, we could pose the urgency itself as a characteristic note of the affect that does not deceive, the anxiety in our time, an anxiety without a precise place, dispersed in the body.

In the Seminar The Ethics of Psychoanalysis, Lacan comments on a Freudian expression, very relevant to the position of a subject trapped in anxiety, interrogating the secret of Das Ding from the Freudian expression Die not des Lebens, a strong formula, which alludes to the pressure, to the ineluctable state of urgency of life[7]. The question that we could pose is what could have the function of a cutoff or limit in face of this urgency “that does not stop.” Jacques-Alain Miller, in the aforementioned text, locates the experience of an analysis as something that could put in its place the dispersed elements of the contemporary wandering life, well described in the quoted song of Bersuit Vergarabat: “I see the future repeating the past, / I see a museum of great novelties, / and time does not stop, does not stop, no. // I don’t have dates to remember, / my days are spent hopelessly / looking for a sense for this whole thing.”[8]

An analytic experience, perhaps, could allow someone to pass from the urgency of anxiety to the location of desire or symptom.


[1] Bersuit Vergarabat, El tiempo no para, (http://www.bersuit.com/letra_1_1.htm) (Translated by the author)

[2] Alberto Nahum García Martínez, Una máquina de contar historias. Complejidad y revolución del relato televisivo (Barcelona: Ediciones Deusto, 2012), p. 285. (Translated by the author)

[3] Concepción Cascajosa Virino, “La nueva edad dorada de la televisión americana”, Secuencias, no. 29 (2007): 22.
7-31Cascajosa Virino, La nueva edad dorada de la televisión norteamericana, p. 22. (Translated by the author)

[4] “This is how Creighton Bernette says goodbye to his students towards the end of the first season of Treme.” Alberto Nahum García Martínez, Una máquina de contar historias. Complejidad y revolución del relato televisivo (Barcelona: Ediciones Deusto, 2012), 267. (Translated by the author)

[5] Jacques Lacan, The Seminar of Jacques Lacan. Book 1. Freud’s Papers on Technique 1953- 1954 (New York, London: W.W.Norton & Company, 1991), p. 267.

[6] Jacques-Alain Miller, A fantasy. (http://londonsociety-nls.org.uk/The-Laboratory-for-Lacanian-Politics/Some-Research-Resources/Miller_A-Fantasy.pdf)

[7] Jacques Lacan, The Seminar of Jacques Lacan. Book 7. The Ethics of Psychoanalysis 1959 – 1960 (New York, London: W.W.Norton & Company, 1997), Chapter 4.

[8] Bersuit Vergarabat, El tiempo no para. (Http://www.bersuit.com/letra_1_1.htm) (Translated by the author).