Repetition degrades

A good human life requires variety. By means of exercising properly a variety of modes of becoming (eating well, resting well, moving one’s body well, thinking clearly, etc.), a human being comes to greater vitality, becoming more alive to living, more in touch with what is beautiful, more beautiful himself.

Variety invites transitions as well as counterposes whereas repetition can only degrade. Repetition is not learning. One mode of becoming (e.g., working) cannot be performed excellently for 8-12 hours straight, only for a short while, a short energetic burst in which one wholeheartedly creates. For as long as one repeats, one’s powers of concentration are coarsened. One’s mind becomes wayward. One’s behaviors are patterned, one’s aesthetic sense dulled. One becomes, over time, a less vital human being.

Places of repetition: the office, the bar, the factory, the shopping mall.

Examples of degradation: fatigue, sickness, lethargy, mindlessness, skimming, glossing, hurrying, busying, confirming, apologizing, verbosity, overplanning.

Styles of ‘recoil’: fantasizing, daydreaming, wondering, wishing, imagining all manner of ecstasy, vacationing, going on retreats.

One cannot get out of repetition unless one ‘ruptures’ repetition. But the rupturing of repetition is a return to variety. To welcome variety would mean living very differently.

A felicitous realization about recurrence and impermanence

Final days in Appalachia. A felicitous realization. So long as we live, each day will recur, varying only slightly from the last. We will work and rest, eat and sleep, think and speak. We will incline or be supine; sit down or get up; touch or be touched; be around others or be alone. As Plato knew and as Beckett showed us, sometimes the order of these basic human categories will change and sometimes the order will not change. When they do not change, rituals will spring forth. Mostly, though, each day will recur, until it does not, varying only slightly from the last or from our last.

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