Repetition / Linearity:
Repetition vs. Structure: construction and interruption
View segments from:
- Ramis/ Ground Hog's Day
- Nauman/ Violent Incident
- Viola/ The Space Between the Teeth
- Kishlowsky/ The Double Life of Veronique
- Akerman/ Tout Une Nuit
- The Sliding Doors
The Functions and Effects of Repetition:
- Reinforcement, emphasis
- Confirmation, validation
- Cohesion (linking, interweaving)
- Movement, variation and change
- Lawfulness; expectancy; patterning
- Fragmentation, neurosis
- Continuous present; timelessness
- Mechanical, automatic.Falsifying.
Types of Repetitions:
- Embedding (recursion;
nested boxes - e.g.Krapp's Last Tape; The Space Between the Teeth)
- Circularity (e.g. Rockabye) / Spiraling (e.g. Ground Hog's Day)
- Mirroring (e.g. The Double Life of Veronique; The Obscure Object
- Continuous present / Stasis (e.g.Tout Une Nuit; If On a Winter's
Night a Traveller; Violent Incident)
- Multiple occurrences of single event (e.g.Sliding Doors; The
Garden of Forking Paths)
- Multiple representations of single event (e.g. points
of view - Rashomon; Mystery Train)
Repetition and Near Repetition:
"Except in the context of some change or progression, any repetition
taking place in advancing time is undiscussible. The growth of the work,
even from one identical line to another, makes exact repetition impossible
[...] Repetition is a nonverbal state; it cannot be committed to any
art that occurs in time." (Kawin, Telling It Again and Again)
Various Articulations of the Two (Intertwined)
Forms of Repetition:
- Repetition as an outcome/ in the service of the pleasure principle
- an affirmation, a basis for change.
- Repetition as an outcome/ in the service of the death instinct -
a compulsive return, a fixation.
- Difference on the basis of preestablished similitude or identity
(copies; representations -- Platonic repetition; mimesis)
- Similitude and identity as the product of a fundamental disparity
(simulacara -- Nietzschean repetition).
Benjamin (Hillis Miller):
- Rational, willed, lifeless, intentional remembering of the daytime;
memory based on visible similarities.
- Involuntary memory, better called forgetting, the imaginary reconstruction
of dream; memory based on the "opaquely similar" ("it
was a sock but it was my mother too"). An image created by the
echoing of two dissimilar things, in the gap between them.
Additional Reading - Summary:
The paradoxical status of repetition/ S.Rimon-Kenan
Paradox 1 (definition): Repetition is present everywhere and nowhere:
- The very distinction between repetition of the signifier and that
of the signified implies difference at the heart of repetition, for
when the signifier is repeated, the signified changes.
Difference is introduced through the very fact of repetition: no pure
Paradox 2 (evaluation): Constructive repetition emphasizes difference;
destructive repetition emphasizes sameness (i.e. to repeat successfully
is not to repeat)
- In literature -
"[...] the very same features that are considered the privileged
marks of the poetic function [..] should also, when hypertrophied
and rendered transparent, become the very same features of, let us
say, the unpoetic function, or the way the poetic function collapses."
- In psychoanalysis -
Some repetitions serve the pleasure principle, while others manifest
the death instinct.
What makes repetition in transference therapeutic [...] is the crucial
difference between the original unconscious experience and its bringing
to consciousness in the analytic session.
Paradox 3: The first time is already a repetition, and repetition
is the very first time.
- The notion of repetition implies that something is repeated, and
yet in both literature and psychoanalysis this something is not unequivocally
a presence but also, quite possibly, an absence.
- In literature -
- Narrative repeats by creating, and what it repeats is the absence
from which it springs and which it renders present through its
- Reading performs the text by repeating it.
- In psychoanalysis -
- The repetition of an absent experience (absent because forgotten,
repressed; replaced by language;
an experience of loss or lack) becomes its very first performance
or enactment; its first presence.
- The first time never actually occurs; it merely reflects an
interpretation, not a real event.
"Psychoanalysis is in fact itself the primal scene it is
seeking: it is the first occurrence of what had been repeating
itself in the patient without ever having occurred." (Barbara
Narration as Repetition / S.Rimon-Kenan
Narration repeats not only by what it says but also by what it does:
performing, enacting that which gets concealed by the telling.
The two types of narration -- remembering (narration as reporting)
vs. repeating (narration as performance, as in transference or in repetition
compulsion). -- occur simultaneously.
Narration-as-repetition may lead to a working through, a resolving
and an overcoming (as in transference, in the service of the pleasure
principle) but it may also imprison and lock the narrative (as in repetition
compulsion, in the service of the death instinct).
Narrating (telling) somebody else's story is hence always also narrating
(performing) one's own story.(See the analysis
of The Conversation).
Narrative Recursion / D. Spence
Narrative Embedding - The subject of the tale becomes the teller (See
analysis of Nabokov's "Recruiting").
Repetition - each addition carries us further along the same
Recursion - a spiral turning back, never to return to the starting
Diversity is the result of the essential property of the recursive
structure: the fact that the repetition is always operating on itself.
A related feature : Interplay between form (action) and content (language).
The recursive pattern can be broken by an interpretation, by a discussion
(overlooking the general pattern), or by violence.
The recursive paradox - repetition provides guidance as well
as the confirmation of interpretation; but also shuts off the possibility
of detecting new paradigms and avenues of investigation.