Steve Jansen rummages through the concept of repetition—from hashtag-self-care rituals to daily pandemic infection counts—in this short-form musing essay.
Rinse and repeat. An overused and silly axiom, but too real now.
The lack of moderation, a forte for healthy living, forces repetition. A pandemic will do the same.
A novel pause of employment leads to new routines: daily yoga, regular journaling, releasing archival recordings, weekly calls with far-flung friends, meals that take all day to chop and simmer.
Manual labor projects—delayed for ages due to singular and drab repetitive movements and processes—are not only tackled, but actually therapeutic. It only takes hours to repeat the same on-hands-and-knees grate installation in the crawl space that has been violated by raccoons, mice, and other vermin in the high desert forest of Arizona.
That actually wasn’t bad at all, you tell yourself. This back will have to pat itself due to quarantine.
Repetition leads to results and to more repeats: read page after page of a book in the morning, run the same clockwise loop on the local high school track during the afternoon, deposit the precise and uniform two-ounce volume of liquor into the stainless-steel jigger each evening.
Though routines are chock-full of hashtag-self-care, they start to become the dreaded version of repetition: a monotony that borders nihilism, a same-shit-different-day aesthetic instead of a healing ritual.
Watch the Suns every two or three nights at the same time on an ancient laptop in the kitchen while cooking a similar rice-centric dish, which has since replaced the elaborate meal from weeks prior.
Hear “Heartbreak Anniversary” on an anniversary-type repeat (instead of listening to new sounds via the stacks of unopened CDs), where the singer Giveon sounds in shambles due to the despondent, repeating, relentless pain of relatable loss.
New daily infections and fatalities that feel like a Roberto Bolaño–type death catalogue, they unleash an assault on our individual and collective well-beings.
Perhaps most prescient, listen to music on a broken turntable, the tone arm sinks in the grooves near the seven-inch gutter, the record plays back in a locked-groove fashion in the style of a broken record.
It may feel broken right now, but it’s going to take some repetition that we’re all comfortable with to arrive at the new not normal.
Until then: rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat.