On Monotony: Repetition, Invention and Poetics in Christensen and Stevens


The hum of a ceiling fan, the mechanical grind of an escalator, Pilates repetitions, treadmills and stationary bicycles, waiting room Muzak and its tedious refrain: such experiences of monotony are ubiquitous. Continuous, unchanging, regular, repetitious: truly predictable, the sameness of monotony is particularly unbearable for it does not stop. Its tedium is an expression of its unbending relationship to time, an excessive duration. Monotony never wavers, never falters, never surprises. Monotony cannot seduce; there is no attraction of fleeting adventure or freedom in monotony, which is absolute prolongation without hesitation or variation, entirely anticipatable.

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