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Reviews409 bland reading of Christ's encouraging assertion that "you would not look for me if you had not already found me." That nit having been sniped at, if not exactly picked, I do not hesitate to reiterate my enthusiasm and, in the final analysis, my gratitude for this altogether remarkable book. University of Notre DameLouis Mackenzie Being in Time: Selves and Narrators in Philosophy and Literature , by Genevieve Lloyd; viii & 192 pp. New York: Routledge, 1993, $49.95 cloth, $15.95 paper. Genevieve Lloyd's topic in this book is the relationship between consciousness , especially self-consciousness, and time. A subtopic is the role of narrative in reporting, solidifying, and creating consciousness. She discusses Augustine's Confessions, Descartes's Meditations, Proust's Remembrance of Things Past, and Virginia WoolfsJacob's Room and The Waves, with useful asides on Hume, Kant, Bergson, and Nietzsche. Lloyd begins with Augustine's Confessions—not with Book X's discussion of time, but with Augustine's descriptions of griefat the death of his friend (Book IV) and the death of his mother (Book IX) . Between these two episodes in Augustine's life stands his conversion to Christianity; this makes all the difference in the nature of his grief and, Lloyd argues, in his experience of being in time. On Lloyd's account Book X's discussion of time arises as much out ofthese experiences as out ofNeoplatonic dissatisfactions with Aristotelian views about time. Attending to the Confessions as a literary text allows Lloyd to conclude that "the narrative form, holding together disparate events in a meaningful unity . . . enacts Augustine's ideal of a consciousness which holds fragments together in a unity for which time is no longer a problem" (p. 40). In writing, Augustine's relation to the events he recounts is analogous to God's relation to the world. On the other hand, "reflection on the idea of eternity [focuses] and [intensifies] the experience of incompleteness and fragmentation that goes with being in time" (p. 39) . As is well known, Descartes borrowed liberally and brilliantly from Augustine . In the absence of a settled andjustified conviction of God's existence, the Cartesian self is radically dependent on God and trapped within itself. Lloyd argues that the Meditations chronicles the selfs movement from this unsettled condition to a unified consciousness: "The mind's capacity to know a world external to itselfand its capacity to extend its consciousness beyond the present both depend on the power and veracity of God" (p. 49). The strength of Lloyd's discussion here is her attention to ways in which Descartes's epistemo- 410Philosophy and Literature logical and psychological claims are embodied in the narrative structure of the Meditations. There are useful discussions of Humean reactions to Cartesian views, and Kantian reactions to Humean skepticism. Bergson's criticisms of Kant and his own positive account of time, memory, and the self—notably his idea that "eternity is not the ultimate reality underlying time but an unreal abstraction hanging over it" (p. 98)—serve as an introduction to Nietzsche's conception of eternal return (chapter 3). According to Lloyd, that conception "is not an edifying injunction to a transcendent will as to what kinds of thing are worthy of its choice, but rather a perception of the weight of eternity in the midst of transience" (pp. 110-11). Nietzsche's affirmation of eternal return "is an affirmation of the present, a refusal to let it drain away in the hope of a better future or a release from present suffering" (p. 118). Lloyd rightly notes Nietzsche's sense of the effects of belief in eternal return on one's perceptions of time and the relations between past, present, and future. Lloyd wisely turns to "literary" figures in the second half of the book—to Proust's Remembrance of Things Past and to Virginia Woolfs novels. She does a fine job of showing both that these authors have sophisticated psychological/ epistemic views about time, memory, and self-consciousness, and that there is a close congruence between those views and the literary structure of the narratives in which they are expressed. These points are not new, ofcourse; but Lloyd's story is clearly told...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 409-410
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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