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date: 23 January 2021


  • Catherine PickstockCatherine PickstockFaculty of Divinity, University of Cambridge


Literary, aesthetic, and theoretical negotiations of repetition tend to focus on the category of repetition as a feature of spoken or written discourse, or visual or audible patterning, instantiated so as to produce a specific effect, such as of monotony or interruption. This effect is based upon a normative assumption that discourse will be structured according to a decorous balance between same and difference; when this decorum is not observed, a marked effect is realized. However, is repetition merely an aesthetic category deployed for local or ephemeral emotional or sematic emphasis? Given that exact repetition is perforce an impossibility, since no two moments are ever the same, nor is one moment the same as itself, what are the implications of this tension between an effect of sameness and an awareness of its impossibility? Are these implications ontological or metaphysical in character?

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