Repetition

 "Something is being covered up, although imperfectly--there remain traces of blood in the published version, references to the young man coming to a 'terrible end.'"

"Something is being covered up, although imperfectly--there remain traces of blood in the published version, references to the young man coming to a 'terrible end.'"

James Tadd Adcox's novella is an emotional narrative suited up as a scholar, wrapped tight in philosophy, much like it's protagonist.  Because in the world of Repetition, there's this text (called Repetition) that is heavily analyzed, discussed, the various scholars wondering, at its heart, if "repetition is both possible and necessary for human happiness" or if "repetition and therefore human happiness is impossible."  One can't help but read the novella's characters as examples - figureheads - lab mice in this (the book's) experiments.

Human happiness may be code for 'love' in this novella.  And why shouldn't it be?  Being unloved sucks.  Our protagonist sleeps in an easy chair in the den, might go days without seeing his wife, falls instantly in love ("in jealousy" perhaps?) with his graduate assistant Sandra as she panics because of her own heartbreak scenario, because the motion of that panic is what creates beauty - she exists "in time."  Often our protagonist goes to the text Repetition for Constantius' definitions of (warnings about?) love: "the woman he loves was not important in herself, but rather represented an ideal."  

Of course, this is true of our protagonist, who "was happy in that moment to feel once again the possibility of love, and [...] was determined to guard [his] love in silence."

Those aren't the only stakes--it's more about the guarding than the love.  It's more about reverse engineering - if we know what does not cause love, can we figure out what does?  It isn't as simple as an inverse.  Even Sandra, whether or not she represents an ideal, wants love to be less opaque, less multi-sided, less sharp-cornered.  "'Love,' she said, and made a kind of spitting sound to show her disgust." In a story about patterns, mirrorings, in a world (ours) which might be predicted by the right algorithms - the worst stakes are knowing your patterns as inevitabilities.  Guarding what you've come to know is yours to lose.