Rhythm, Repetition

In linear media literal repetition is a vice. Alliteration, sometimes, is OK. Motifs, which is a fancy way of saying repeating something but a little differently, is also essential. But the same sentence in a novel (at least without quotation marks around it), the same shot or sequence in a film, a repeated sentence in an essay. No go. Bad form. Questionable. Linear media, even where it orbits with incessant moth like fascination around a recurring theme – in one work or across an oeuvre – celebrates variation.

This is one of the hardest things for people coming from linearland (it’s a state of mind silly) to get when you move into networked media forms and practices. For here repetition, to quote Mark Bernstein from many years ago, is not a vice. Why? The simplest explanation is to realise that if you don’t return to where you’ve already been, to then be able to make new and different choices (some of which may again return you here), you have no way of ever knowing that your choices matter. To the work, its shape, your experience of it, and that its shape and structure actually changes as a consequence of your decisions.

No return, no simple repetition, then it may as well as be a branching tree, and a branching tree is to poetic pattern as ice hockey is to ballet.