Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Repetition and Meaning

As Professor Chun mentioned in class, Bush seems to imply that repetition is the mark of knowledge and that through repetition knowledge is disseminated. Thus repetition is central to creative thought and not outside of it. Professor Chun noted that through the repetition of signs, for example, we have language.

Yet, isn’t it through repetition that meaning is lost as well? Like a game of telephone where one person starts with one idea and by the end of the chain of repetitions the idea has transformed into an entirely different sentiment that is now unrecognizable? Even in language itself, we tend to reuse words or phrases so often that they begin to lose their meaning. Take for instance the word “love.” This word has been repeated so much so that it has become a cliché; its meaning is rooted in a tradition. Through the reproduction of the phrase “I love you” in movies, novels, and popular culture, the word “love” has begun to lose much of its sustenance and power. Is this evidence of the death of creative thought through repetition? I see the logic in Baudrillard’s argument when he claims that reality no longer exists. People are nostalgic for primitive meaning, before repetition and recycling destroyed language’s significance.

The privilege of forgetting, then, is not really a privilege at all in the mind of Baudrillard, and I tend to agree. Instead, isn’t the real privilege the privilege of association, which Bush seems to allude to earlier on in her piece? That words can take on new meanings and that language can grow strikes me as more of a privilege that that of forgetting.

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