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Circles and repetitions: Habit and the unconscious

Blue, Ruth Isabel Victoria; (2002) Circles and repetitions: Habit and the unconscious. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis explores habit - learned, repetitious, ritualised activity; the most commonplace, everyday manifestation of spirals of repetition in human life. During the modern period the emergence of self-conscious subjectivity has often been in tension with the tendency towards explanation of phenomena in terms of natural mechanism and automatism, and the notion of habit has emerged again and again as a possible modulation between these poles. Paradoxically the humble notion of habit serves as a stage on which the ancient themes of unconscious repetition and fate are replayed in a modem context. This thesis attempts to unify the philosophical, psychological, and aesthetic manifestations of habit while also expanding the concept, and thinking of it in terms of a route or device to achieve different states of 'metamorphic' awareness. My practical work, mostly video, also deals with the theme of habit and repetition and its modulation between the realms of consciousness and unconsciousness. Often my video pieces are scripted from dreams, and attempt to reflect something of the nature of the 'sleepwalker;' a figure caught somewhere between life and death, control and autonomy, determination and indeterminacy. An understanding of habit, I feel, can provide a means of articulating something of the in-between state of such compelling, impenetrable sleepwalking figures, which have emerged again and again throughout history in a variety of different art forms and practices, from literature to film, but also importantly, in everyday life. Running throughout the thesis is the voice of Iris Geldo, the pin in the side of the thesis, who I have worked with, not unproblematically, throughout. I will include her personal experiences, in the form of letters, emails and diary entries, in which she responds to what she thinks I might be getting at in each chapter of the thesis. Although her words are often provocative, they are always relevant and she brings back a quality of indeterminacy and resistance to the things I am attempting to illuminate.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Circles and repetitions: Habit and the unconscious
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Philosophy, religion and theology; Habits
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10105647
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