“Over and over and over/Like a monkey with a miniature cymbal/The joy of repetition really is in you”
Hot Chip, “Over and Over”, from The Warning
“Any real record person knows that the number one most powerful marketing tool, when it comes to music, is repetition.” Nile Rodgers, musician, producer, founding member of the band Chic, and all-around pop/rock/hip-hop legendary dude. By the way, “Le Freak”, a song by Chic, repeats the word “freak” 42 times. “Le Freak” is the highest selling record ever on Atlantic records. Here is a guy playing it on the ukulele. Enjoy.
“Happiness is the longing for repetition.” Milan Kundera, author. Kundera’s most famous book, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, deals with the concept of “eternal return”, which states, as I understand it – and how Wikipedia explained it to me – that the universe is limited and finite, but time is infinite, and so everything recurs, and will continue to, forever. Frederick Nietzsche was a proponent of this theory, which he sees as possibly positive or negative, depending on how you look at it:
What if some day or night a demon were to steal after you in your loneliest loneliness and say to you: “This life, as you now live it or have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more; and there will be nothing new in it but every pain and every joy and every thought and sigh and everything unutterably small and great in your life, will have to return to you, all in the same sequence – even this spider and this moonlight between the trees, and even this moment and I myself. The eternal hourglass of existence is turned upside down, again and again, and you with it, speck of dust!” Would you throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon…or how well disposed would you have to become of yourself and to life to crave nothing more fervently than this ultimate eternal confirmation and seal?” From The Gay Science
He goes on to say that:
… in order to endure the idea of recurrence, one needs: freedom from morality; new means against the fact of pain…; the enjoyment of all kinds of uncertainty [and] experimentalism, as a counterweight of this extreme fatalism; abolition of the concept of necessity; abolition of the “will”; abolition of “knowledge within itself”
from Will to Power
I’ve lost you, haven’t I? You thought it was going to be something different when you saw The Gay Science, right? Suffice it to say that Neitzsche is probably right. All evidence points to the inevitability of repetition. Still and all, lacking absolutely everything it takes to “endure” the idea of eternal recurrence or return, I prefer to remain an ‘unbearably unenlightened being’ (see how I did that!), which is certainly why I make the same mistakes over and over and over, like a monkey with a miniature cymbal. (Brian Fellows of Safari Planet says: “That monkey got a crazy eye! Make it to stop looking at me with it’s crazy eye! I’m Brian Fellows!”)
D. H Lawrence was not overly fond of a life bound by redundancy, as evidenced by this quote:
“But better die than live mechanically a life that is a repetition of repetitions.”
Lawrence Durrell, poet, novelist, dramatist and travel writer, said:
“History is an endless repetition of the wrong way of living.” Durrell is best known for his Alexandria Quartet, in which the first three books tell essentially the same story, but from different perspectives.* On a side note, D.H.Lawrence, who was considered to be a pornographer for most of his career was married to the same woman he married when he was 27 until he died in 1930 at the age of 45.(She was six years older – let’s here it for the cougars!) Lawrence Durrell hung out with literary dirty-birds Henry Miller and Anais Nin, and named his daughter Sappho Jane, after the famous poet from the Greek isle of Lesbos – no, really! That’s where she’s from!- who was known as much for her sexuality as her work. There is some speculation that Sappho was bisexual, but there is a preponderance of evidence that she spent most of her time in Lesbos (insert rim shot here… on the drums, you idiot!) Sadly, Sappho Jane Durrell hung herself. Durrell married four times. There is no evidence that any of his later wives allowed him to chose the names of their children.
The last word on this subject will have to go to Donna Dixon, the actress you remember from tv show Bosom Buddies. “I’m very hard on myself because I know how good my body can look. [I have learned to] use less weight and more repetition so I don’t become too muscular.”
Well said, Donna.
Other last word – Remember I told you about Sum
, by David Eagleman? The first story in it is about repeating every moment of your life in the afterlife, only arranged differently. It’s great. This link is not it, but is the fabulous Jeffrey Tambor reading another story, “Metamorphosis”, which starts, “there are three deaths”…the last one being when your name is spoken for the last time. In other words, according to this, you can’t go on until there is nobody left to remember you. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3scl5em6uSc
*Last word, for reals! There is a FANTASTIC short story about the same event told from different perspectives by Robert Coover called “The Babysitter.” When I first read it in college I thought it was the coolest story I ever read. I promptly forgot everything about it – title, author, etc. – except the plot. Special thanks to Dr. William B. Warde, who was able to find the story, based on my description, in less than a week.
BONUS for no reason at all: Cats reenacting the BP Oil Spill: