Repetition Helps You Notice

In class, we have been talking a lot about recursions and repetition as it applies to African culture. Through watching “The Story of Everest,” I realized that unproductive practice is redundant and will make you feel stuck in a loop. Repetition with a difference, however, causes change and results in progress. While reading over the course epigraphs, Dionne Brand’s quote stood out to me for the repetition that is inherent to its meaning: “my job is to notice…and to notice that you can notice.”

I thought about this quote while reading Snead’s article “On Repetition in Black Culture” which stresses the process of repetition in order to grow and become unique. Repetition with a difference causes progression or regression depending if the difference is positive or negative. Specifically, the comparison to jazz music stood out to me. Snead says that “without an organizing principle of repetition, true improvisation would be impossible, as an improvisator relies upon the ongoing recurrence of the beat.” The rhythms repeat and a bass line is established and then something (like the key or a soloist) changes the sound. This change is what causes an emotional response from the listener but the repetition is necessary for this to happen. Jazz music tests the limits in terms of making the audience feel uncomfortable because “black music sets up expectations and disturbs them at irregular intervals.” My jazz conductor used to say “this chord is supposed to sound crunchy.” Since the audience is expecting resolution and they hear dissonance they will pay attention to that section. In a sense, when you write, it is your solo and it is the “crunchy” part of your writing that people are going to notice and respond to. Maybe they will disagree and write a counterargument or you will help them make a realization and they will further your argument through a different lens. This relates to what we learned so far in They Say / I Say and how you must repeat someone else’s argument and expand on it without losing the common thread that connects all of the points. Repetition with a difference.

I do not have much confidence in my writing nor do I participate as much as I could in my classes. I think that by repeating the process of blogging over the course of the semester I will feel more comfortable with my writing and I will learn more about African American literature. I think that by looking back at the stuff I have done before while also moving forward I will improve skills as an English major so I can share the things I have noticed in a way that helps others notice.

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