My Year of Short Stories: Dec 1. Symposium: 3 columns on how different mediums of art use repetition. The Believer Magazine, Oct/Nov 2017

Today I read 3 columns from The Believer that focus on the way different art forms/mediums use repetition.

First was poetry, specifically the newest Martin Corless-Smith collection, Bitter Green. The writer, Stephanie Burt, explores the trodden path Corless-Smith visits in this collection with odes to Keats, Camus, and others. The repetition is not only in the specific poems Corless-Smith includes in this collection but in the subject matter in which they tackle. Burt constantly posits that the collection is comparing Corless-Smith’s own work to the aforementioned great authors of yesteryear and so his contemporyness is small and undeserving, which, both Keats and Camus struggled with as well.

The next column was about Hardcore as a musical genre, rather the antithetical lovechild to punk rock. The writer of the column, Sam Lefebvre delves into the social conservativism of the genre by breaking apart the EP Though Shall Not Kill by the band Antidote. The album itself, he claims, rehashes all the tropes of Hardcore bands. In fact, there is nothing new about this EP at all, and even many of the lyrics are repeated again, and again throughout the songs. Instead of being labeled as contrived, this EP has been lauded as a pure, raw form of the art. And like the heyday of the genre Antidote bemoans the changing of society, the diversification of the United States from a white and predominantly Christian society to a melting pot of many cultures and religions. It is a genre stuck in the idea that there ever was “good old days,” and the scene itself applauds those that perpetuate the idea.

The last column, written by Keegan Cook Finberg, is a look at the 11-hour filibuster senator Wendy Davis, of Texas, pulls in 2013 to protest a bill that would limit (further) abortion and close many abortion clinics. Senator Davis took that time to read the testimony of women who were dismissed because House Committee Chairman Byron Cooks deemed the testimony “repetitive.” As if to say, “Oh, jeez, this all these women have the same issue. They want healthcare services since there are so many I rather not hear them.” Of course, Byron Cooks never saw this as healthcare, and even if he did he likely wouldn’t be moved to change his mind on the matter. But Senator Davis made Cook listen to all the written testimonies, which is precisely why abortion clinics and Planned Parenthood is an invaluable institution in this country. To further explore the repetitive nature of this filibuster, Finberg informs us that the whole filibuster transcript has been collected into a book, Let Her Speak. While it may seem strange to compile such a transcript, Finberg reasons that it is the repetition of such arguments that see this issue sway government to do one thing or the other. If not for Senator Davis and her use of repetition, things may have turned out much differently.


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