The purpose of this article is to explore several issues related to the ways time and history are presented in “The X-Files,” and particularly about one episode that thematizes these issues: Season 5’s “Christmas Carol,” written by Darin Morgan. I will be focusing on this specific episode not only because it is my favorite [“favorite” in both senses of the word: “likely to be preferred,” and “season”] of the series, but because it brings out and exemplifies some interesting narrative patterns the series is well-known for. In this article I will provide a background to time theories in narratology; discuss how these theories can be applied to TV dramas; focus on Morgan’s treatment of Mulder’s “missing time” experience in the episode, and analyze its narrative patterns of recurrence and return.


I will also explore how Mulder’s attitude toward his past is described by his experience with these time slips; demonstrate how Scully helps him recover from them (in a sense, to regain the present), and finally, I will compare my reading of this episode with the others’ (Erin, Kazeko’s and Rhonda’s) in order to show how these narratives of recurrence and return are closely related to the series’ epistemological concerns. Time theories in Narratology The time-travel narrative has always been an interesting type of story because it mixes two types of time that are usually thought of as independent: the time in which one lives (the present) and the time that is lost or gained (usually called “past” or “future”). These two types of time, past/present/future and real-time (or chronological) are often associated with different perspectives. As Catherine Elgin formulates it, “Different stances toward time are associated with different ways of conceiving the world.” (Elgin, p.2) The past is known but no longer present; it may be described as the realm where there is only truth and knowledge, for one does not have to deal with the surprises that coming events may provide.

What makes the difference between past/present/future and real-time (or chronological)?

Are they continuous, overlapping or totally independent? Here I will mainly refer to two theories that answer this question: Henri Bergson’s durée (“duration”) and Gilles Deleuze’s time image. According to Bergson there are three distinct types of time in which one can live: real-time (chronological), psychological time (duration) and the pure past (memory). Real-time is what fits into clock hours; it can be compared to a straight line, for one can say that “event A happened before event B” because both are located on this line. The second type of time is duration, which is subjective and therefore incomprehensible. It can not be represented graphically, for it is pure becoming with no clear sense of before/after. In duration, what is important is how one feels about an event, or why a certain memory appeals to the subject.

how many minutes are in 5 years?

According to Bergson, psychological time is an indivisible unit of becoming that can not be reduced into parts. It consists of heterogeneous durations (such as the duration one has when he/she waits for a bus) and can not be measured by clock-time. Time, then, is subjective; it may be described as the subject’s experience of the world. In an essay titled “The Psychic Aspect,” Henri Bergson writes: “In each of our inner states duration is given immediately, and to get a hold on it we must abandon our ordinary habits.


We cannot take a single step without employing the help of memory, which tells us what to do and what to expect; it is the source from which all our judgments and actions flow.” (Bergson)

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