Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Some thoughts on repetition after listening to Zizek

Repetition in Hegel’s dialectical framework, seems to under pin all modern philosophy and critical thinking. He gives the example of Caesar who was once a real person but soon became a symbol of something far more fixed. We’re still repeating except now we repeat the repetition more self-consciously. To the point where self-consciousness has become so interwoven with our concept of ourselves that it is invisible. I would argue that repetition is behind the progress of civilisation because it allows communication on a larger scale. 
Celt and Pict art is fluid and alive and whilst there is repetition it never repeats itself in the same manner as Roman culture, which made a virtue of repeating the symbolic. Hairy hippies are to be avoided, as is the swirling psychedelic barbarian art.
 So now we have come through the rot of meaninglessness that saturated western culture after 1972 and we have absorbed the traits of appropriation effortlessly Things, Like Caesar are rarely what they appear but instead are symbols of knowingness. This is not as radical as we like to think when you consider that all communication is based on repetition. The ability to explore these ideas in a structured philosophical logic is underpinned by repetition. Hegel noted that the ability to learn without understanding is what characterises modern civilisation. This relies on repetition. Not just in the sense of learning by rote, although that is only possible because of it, but by our ability to create signifiers from original thought or object.

There is not enough specificity to fill the universal. What is in the missing space? Dark matter. The void? The void after all is within the original individual - the signifier and signified united. With repetition the void is placed outside of the individual. This is where abstract expressionism put itself and this is what pop art rejected. Pop art said get over it because the specific and the universal are on the same plain – albeit on recto and verso in Derrida’s terms.
Poetry and folktales remind us, we say of the first time. A time before repetition in a germinal state of noticing. The word remind implies the past when, I would argue it has always co-existed with the repetition. perhaps only been made manifest thanks to the repetition. So to conclude this realm of longing is a a vast attic made manifest by the key fashioned on a high precision lathe.

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