“Each of us left the group with the certainty that he still had the best part of his journey ahead of him, the adventurous footpath ending in a home unknown to his fellow convicts. And once, indeed, when on such a day I left the station and cut across the fields to the village, I was accompanied by something in which I saw the Child Saviour announced by the religious calendar. True, nothing more happened than that the spaces between the shriveled cornstalks by the wayside flared up as I passed. These spaces appeared to move, step by step, identical from row to row, empty, white and windy, and I had the impression that it was always the same small space that not only accompanied me but flew fitfully ahead, a puff of wind that flushed like a bird in the corner of my eye, waited for me, and then flew on ahead. A handful of corn chaff rose from a furrow in a fallow field; pale yellow leaves hovered motionless for a time, then in the form of a column moved slowly over the fields, while in the background a train, almost hidden by the fog, seemed now to stop, now to shoot ahead, as fitfully as the airy something beside me. I ran homeward, burning to tell them something which, as I already knew in the doorway, could not be told just then, and not in words.”
Repetition, Peter Handke
Anyone who likes to dance, and he once counted himself among those, perhaps know the moment when the body seems to fall away under the invitation of intense repetitive rhythm. Energy seems to be supernatually present and a virtual presence takes over. But in ordinary non-dance life repetition can seem like a recurring pain, banal in its insistence, superfluous in its contentless mechanical thrust, the worse of puppet life. Just so the force of holidays, sacred events (from which many holidays sprout), advertising, and the force of the machine.
Repetition forms the cassons which anchor myth throughout all temporal variants–post-, pre-, anti-, and/or the new time of simultaneity. Repetition is the rod that holds everything together. If there is One Law, it is repetition, both overt and covert, like the mysterious dark matter and dark energy of the new physics, existng every where but unseen.
Small towns were once the fertile breeding ground of repetitions of the mystic sort that Handke so beautifully describes above, the mystical spacing of spacing. And he supposed it was still true to some degree, the seasons. patterns of heat, cold wet and dry. But enclosure, much like cities, is becoming more the norm. Perhaps the attempt to devalorize natural repetition amrks the advent of the place of the uncanny in modern culture now, the inside of the unheimlich taking over from the outside of the sublime. Love your symptom!