In the European tradition, there are rathe quite simple explanations for repetitions. On the one hand, we have this prehistorical theory. It means, repetitions are a part of nature (no matter how we are going to define the term nature), they show us comes and goes of seasons. But we cannot imagine repetitions during a fall. On the other hand, Derrida said, repetitions have the power to conjure up ghosts. It´s not magical. When I listen to a tape with someone’s voice, it is like I listen to a ghost. And it doesn’t play a role if he is dead or still alive. Beckett´s Crapp is listening to his own voice after years. He is listening to a ghost. Crapp is a ghost. Evoked by his own voice.
But it’s on us to feel the ghost. Probably Hölderlin did it while writing his poems. Maybe one of us does it while reading it. It always depends on us.
On the other side, there is another description. When we take sociology and Latour, repeats may tell us something about us. But what they will tell us? They will probably tell us a story about our theory of time. We already described it. The European civilization describes time as a line, as a phenomenon, which goes and never comes back. We use repeats as a possibility to compare ourselves with our previous culture. And mostly in order to speak about something like development. Maybe our understanding of time is the reason, why Europeans believe in something like development. A revolution is not a break of time but a point when we look back.
Im don’t mention structuralism, because this text is not a philosophical essay. Rather an invitation.
But there is something more. Viveiros de Castro says, anthropologists describe mostly themselves, not the other culture. When we look at a phenomenon like a repetition, we don´t look at nature. We rather look at ourselves. The question is, what we may see when we look at it? Maybe more than a repetition? Maybe we don´t see the difference between now and earlier? Maybe we can only see the repetition as time? As continuum.
When we listen to music by Lubomyr Melnyk, we find repetitions. And while listening to his music, may lose ourselves in the music, in time, in repetitions. And we may see not only time but also ghosts from the past. And maybe also us. Not as a ghost but as humans. And maybe we will find small differences. And will be happy about them.
You can listen to Melnyk here (external Youtube link):