Hermeneia, nr. 5, 2005, pp. 83-105
Canonical and Eccentric Representations of Time. Emil Cioran (Abstract)
The various representations of time, such as the chronological vs. the kairical (from the Greek term kairós), or the historical vs. the eschatological, set up real alternatives – that is, cross-roads, where both paths are present at the same time. These different representations, although rival, do not exclude one another. Some socio-cultural spaces seem to have developed a preference for such alternative views – just as those authors who are particularly sensitive to the historical situation of „the other” have.
The essay consists of three sections. The first one is about (1) certain authors’ predisposition towards alternative views and (2) a radical meaning of the term «alternative». The second refers to some major representations of time, of which four are discussed in detail: (3) the chronological and the kairical, (4) the historical and the cyclical. The last section is an illustration of such perceptions of time, with reference to Cioran’s books – especially La Chute dans le temps, 1964: (5) from the concept of an „alternative” to a skeptic’s confession; (6) traces of an eccentric eschatology; (7) an inaugural moment: „falling in time”; (8) the deeply affected temporal order; (9) the radical kind of „fall”; (10) a twofold mode of being: within and out of history; (11) the signs of a late gnosis. The eschatological view is obvious in Cioran, only it is a different kind of eschatology than both the patristic, and the modern (deeply secularized) ones.