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Repetition and Enactment:

Kierkegaard, Psychoanalysis, Theatre


Analecta, 2014







Constructive difference

Real and reality

Four matrices of repetition


Repetition and Exception

Kierkegaard and the Greeks

Königstadt Theatre

Experiment in experimental psychology

Mneme, anamnesis and the doctrine of metempsychosis

The myth of Er


A moment, transition

The choice of life: false hope and the melancholy of remembrance, the comfort of habits or the risk of exceptions?

Repetition is a new category yet to be discovered


Repetition and Psychoanalysis

Repetition compulsion

A small private ceremony

Erinnerung, Wiederholung

Suppression and the structure of substitutability

The topic and the dynamics of repression

A metapsychological puzzle

The paradigm of pleasure

Remembering is not reminiscence and life is not a dream

The duality of the real

The (de)installation of a drive: Vorstellungsrepräsentanz


Repetition and Enactment

Theatre and repetition

Mimesis – Plato's paranoia

The truth of enactment

Realization, gaze, wish

The enactment of enactment: theatre and psychoanalysis

Voyeurs and exhibitionists

The intrusion of the real

The fascination of reproduction

New! New!

Revolution – how boring

Repetition is not reproduction







The book introduces the theory of four matrices of repetition – the distinction between deflation, reformation, inflation and production as principal ways of conceptualizing repetition in the field of philosophy. The basic presupposition of this theory is that repetition does not imply a multiplying singularity but a fundamental duality, a relation between two things determined by their difference. The notation of the basic scheme of repetition is repeated | repeated. From this basic scheme, four matrices of repetition are derived according to two criteria: the criterion of the exclusion or inclusion of the difference (this criterion determines whether the difference between the two objects/events of repetition is excluded from their relation as external to them and inessential to their determination or the difference between them is, on the contrary, that which essentially concerns or determines them) and the criterion of wholeness or unwholeness (this criterion determines whether the system generated through repetition is determined as an open or closed structure).


Further on, it is proposed that the four matrices of repetition can be understood as four fundamental ontological perspectives through which we can read various philosophical theories and various ideological and economic conceptions. This theory both systemises the explicit conceptualisation of the concept of repetition in the history of philosophy, and (through the analysis of Plato’s, Kierkegaard’s, Freud’s, Lacan’s and Deleuze’s ontology and the conception of repetition) shows that the philosophical schemes that are seemingly indifferent to the concept of repetition itself or exclude it entirely from their field also get caught in one of the four matrices of repetition. It thereby shows that both the contemporary concepts of repetition (mainly Deleuzian or Lacanian) and the (retroactively established mythical) field of metaphysics, which those concepts of repetition posit as its own conceptual opposite) are merely different inflections of a more broadly understood fundamental scheme of repetition – it thus does not place repetition in opposition to the classical metaphysical scheme, but, on the contrary, claims that metaphysics is nothing but one of the forms of repetition.


The two first two parts of the book follow the historical establishment of the concept of repetition and the emergence of its fourth scheme – from Presocratics to Plato and from Kierkegaard to psychoanalysis – encountering the other three matrices of repetition along the way (especially the first realised by the classical metaphysical scheme of imitation as a weak repetition of the original), and consider the key phenomena and relations that traverse the concept of repetition and determine it from various aspects. These include especially the relations between representation and the unrepresentable, the finite and the infinite, necessity and accidence, sameness and similarity, truth and illusion, the real and semblance; the phenomenon of memory and the question of the temporality of repetition, the question of compulsion and freedom, the question of reproduction and the new, of the exception that arises through repetition – but, in the first line, the problem of the connection or disconnection between thought and body in which, according to our presuppositions, lies the crux of the concept of repetition, whose (paradoxical) convolution it determines.


The third part proposes the theory of enactment as the fundamental function of the subject and the thesis on theatre as a specific doubling of that function – the enactment of enactment. The enactment of enactment is taken as the basic theatre matrix, which is nothing else but the doubling of the fourth matrix of repetition as production, in which, through the alienation in the Other, there emerges the subject, which is realised as enactment. The key point here is that this repetition does not take place as a copy, but as a renovation, as a potentiated self-enacting mechanism of the constitutive function of the subject, as a realisation of the real that, in the suspension of the intrusion of the real, precisely through the duplication of repetition, for a moment unmasks the elusive function of enactment. In parallel to this, theatre as the enactment of enactment is conceptualised through the triple perspective of realization, gaze and desire. Further on two thesis on mimesis are developed: the thesis that the concept of imitation is essentially and historically determined by the criterion of truth, and the thesis that strictly speaking, 20th-century art is not an abolishment, but a realisation of mimesis.

The concept of repetition is one of the possible articulations of the original heterogeneity of subject and object, one of the possible ways of thinking the non-relation, not between body and thought, since the body is itself a thinking body, but between signification and its excess or lack. Repetition is not a multiplicity, but a doubling, a relation between the one and the other, between the first and the second (object, event) repeated. What is multiplied within the movement of repetition is not a singularity, but a complex relation between the two.  


The Category of the (Un)Touchable in Haptolinguistics:                               Touch, Repetition, and Language

Article In: The Language of Touch: Philosophical Examinations in Lingustics and Haptic Studies, Bloomsbury Press, Jan 2019


The Paradoxes of Repetition and the Limping Cause in Kierkegaard, Hegel and Lacan

Article in S Journal, Vol. 11: Lost Cause

November 2018


The paper proceeds from the thesis that in Kierkegaard's famous book on repetition, a certain double paradox of repetition can be traced by which Kierkegaard, on the one hand, delineates a new theory of the subject and its temporality and, on the other hand, legitimises a certain logic of failure, which Lacan posits as the constitutive moment of repetition in terms of the movement of the signifying structure, in which the subject emerges through the mechanism of alienation. Kierkegaard’s double paradox of repetition carries out a surprising tour de force that determines the modern subject: it is precisely the fundamental, structural impossibility of repetition that is the only condition of its possibility. Kierkegaard thereby delineates a subversive ontology that departs from the classical ontology of being: there is no strict delimitation of the area of being and the area of non-being, rather, they mutually condition each other and structurally belong to one another. Because the ontology of being builds on a strict delimitation of identity and non-identity, it can understand repetition only as a reproduction of identical elements and difference only in the form of variation, as a specific difference that establishes variety within the very identity of being. It is herein that lies the fundamental argument of this paper: what is essential both for the constitution of the modern subject and the modern understanding of the historical moment is that repetition is structured in the conceptual departure both from the idea of reproduction as pure formal repetition of the same, on the one hand, and the idea of variation as a substantive articulation of difference, on the other. The critique of repetition as reproduction and difference as variation, which, as the paper shows, can be found in Kierkegaard, Hegel and Lacan, delineates the theory of the subject that, on the one hand, turns away from every teleology or the theory of pre-given origin established by the classical ontology of being, while, on the other hand, it also moves away from the postmodern theory of non-being, pure substitutivity, simulacra, the absence of origin. By moving away from the idea of telos and the origin, Kierkegaard's double paradox of repetition doesn't abolish causality as such but rather establishes a new causality, which, so to say, accounts with a certain slip, with a leap of a cause that is inscribed in its very structure. And, as paper shows, this leap of causality is exactly what structures the psychoanalytic subject and what Lacan calls an unconscious cause, a limping cause:  it is a lost cause, but not a cause that was lost – precisely as lost it is essentially at work.


The (un)touchable Touch:                  

Doubt and Desire


Contribution at the workshop A Touch of Doubt - On Haptic Scepticism. March 27-28, 2018. Maimonides Centre for Advanced Studies. University of Hamburg




The two walls of impossibility between which touch is ultimately caught install the category of the (un)touchable that draws the unconceivable line between the never yet executed and the always already ran over event of touch. Through the category of the (un)touchable, touch engages the function of desire. What empowers one's desire is precisely the structural impossibility to grasp its object: what we eventually touch is never that which we desired. But at the same time, this is the only way we can ever touch it, because the inherent impossibility of touch is its very condition of possibility. The category of the (un)touchable sets the mechanism of forced choice: either we touch it in a way that we cannot touch it or we don't touch it at all. And what is structurally (un)touchable within the mechanism of forced choice is not only the elusive object of touch, but also the touch itself as the impossible borderline between distance and proximity.

The Naturalisation of Politics and the Dangerous Mind


Paper at the simposium Truth and Politics. CAS SEE, Rijeka

June 2017



The (Un)Touchable Value:               Capital and Repetition


Paper at the Historical Materialism Conference Beirut, AUB, Mar 2017

The paper analyses Marx's theory of value through the four matrices of repetition in relation to the question of touch and tactility. It initially presents the theory of the four matrices of repetition: deflation, reformation, inflation and production. The paper then goes on to elaborate on the question of repetition in relation to Marx's theory of value, through the perspective of the four matrices of repetition. At the same time, it focuses on the aspect of touch and tactility, elaborating on the notion of the (un)touchable value. 







The four matrices of Repetition: 
Deflation, Reformation, Inflation, Production

Article in Problemi 9-10/2016

Paper at the International conference REPETITION/S: Performance and Philosophy in Ljubljana at the University of Ljubljana, September 2016.




The paper initially presents the theory of the four matrices of repetition: deflation, reformation, inflation and production. The basic presupposition of this theory is that repetition does not imply a multiplying singularity but a fundamental duality, a relation between two things determined by their difference. The seriality at work in repetition is not the seriality of individual units, but the seriality of this duality, of the relation between the two determined by their difference. The notation of the basic scheme of repetition is repeated | repeated. From this basic scheme, four matrices of repetition are derived according to two fundamental relations: firstly, according to the relation between both objects (or events, moments) of repetition, so according to the difference between them, and secondly, according to the relation of the fundamental scheme of repetition (which is repeated | repeated) to the movement of repetition itself, so according to the difference between both objects (or events) of repetition and the structure or system in which they are inscribed and which they thereby also determine. The four matrices of repetition are further elaborated according to two criteria: the criterion of the exclusion or inclusion of the difference and the criterion of wholeness or unwholeness of the structure. Further on, the paper presents the thesis that the four matrices of repetition can be thought of as four basic ontological perspectives. From this point of view, particular ontological conceptions can be read through the prism of repetition, whether the conceptualisation of repetition is explicitly expounded within the related philosophy or not. From this perspective, we  give a couple of examples (Plato, Kierkegaard, Hegel, Deleuze, Lacan) but focus mainly on the question of the difference between Lacanian and Hegelian ontology. Lacanian theory of repetition belongs to the matrix of production - and the main question here is: can we think Hegel's dialectics within this matrix as well or shall we rather claim that it realizes the matrix of reformation? 

The fourth matrix of repetition says: it is not true that all there is is just a multiplication of copies. The original exists, but not as the starting point but rather as the product of repetition. Together with the copy, repetition also produced the model, the split between them is the condition of possibility of repetition, but is at the same time also a condition produced by repetition itself. The copy refers to the original, which has always already been produced by this reference of its copy.

What is crucial in this matrix is that it does not involve merely retroactivity, something being confirmed, legitimised retroactively, something obtaining its existence within the signifying network. It does not involve merely the consequence being established as the cause of a cause, but rather the shift of legitimisation itself. Within retroactive logics, a certain orientation towards the future is simultaneously established, which does not create (retroactively) merely the origin itself (as its own condition of possibility), but also keeps shifting (in advance) the return to it itself. This is the fourth matrix of repetition – the matrix of production.


Repetition between

Reproduction and Variation:

Deleuze, Hegel, Kierkegaard

Article in Filozofski Vestnik, Vol. 36/3, Dec 2015



The paper departs from the thesis that the problematic relationship between Deleuze’s, Hegel’s, and Kierkegaard’s concept of repetition, which at the same time represents the ontological starting point of their philosophies, can be illuminated through the elaboration of the concepts of reproduction and variation as specific aspects of the very idea of repetition. With the help of the hypothesis that Kierkegaard’s concept of repetition can be read through a double paradox that separates repetition from reproduction, on one hand,

and variation, on the other, we show that this double paradox is also at work in Hegel’s dialectics. The consequence of this is that, in the final analysis, Hegel’s dialectics is nothing but repetition par excellence – repetition that conceptually moves away from the idea of reproduction as well as from the idea of variation. In the final part of the paper, we first note that, in Deleuze, Kierkegaard’s double paradox does not work, which is further backed up by the ascertainment that in Difference and Repetition variation and reproduction represent a specific functional aspect of repetition. The conclusion brings the surprising finding – insofar as, besides Nietzsche, Kierkegaard is a flagship of Deleuze’s theory of repetition – that Kierkegaard’s conception of repetition is in fact much closer to Hegel’s dialectics than to Deleuze’s project. For, from the very start, Deleuze overlooks that Kierkegaard’s conception of paradox, which is the fundamental platform of his theory of knowledge, does not concern the transcendental field of thinking as the outer limit of thought, but the internal discord of the very possibility of thought, the fundamental impossibility of thought that is inscribed in its register as lack, negation, but is as such nevertheless – and this is crucial – the condition of possibility of thinking as positive production and affirmation.


Brute Repetition:

Deleuze and Freud


Article in Problemi 1-2/2015

April 2015


We follow Deleuze’s critique of Freud in Difference and Repetition, which, insofar as it concerns the fundamental questions of the compulsion to repeat and the function of the unconscious, reveals the essential points of Deleuze’s complex relation to Freud’s psychoanalysis: on the one hand, Freud’s concept of the unconscious serves as Deleuze’s fundamental conceptual footing on which he bases the idea of the virtual as the being of the pure past and which he uses in his elaboration of the theory of repetition to further develop the Bergsonian conception of time, while on the other hand, he reproaches Freud (through his triple reproach of realism, materialism and subjectivism) with a commitment to traditional dogmatism and teleology. By unfolding the moments in which Deleuze turns away from Freud, we show the aporias of Deleuze’s own conception and suggest a different reading that does not defend Freud in the sense of exonerating him from the blame of realism, materialism and subjectivism, but rather shows that it is precisely the standpoints of realism, materialism and subjectivism that distinguish Freud’s psychoanalysis from any kind of teleology, idealism and dogmatism.







On Repetition and Theatricality:

A Dialogue with Samuel Weber’s Thought

(Through Kierkegaard, Freud, Lacan and Deleuze)

Paper at the International conference Theatre, Performance, Philosophy at the University of Paris-Sorbonne

June 2014




Through Kierkegaard's concept of Gjentagelsen, the concept of productive repetition was delineated and its fundamental connection to theatricality shown. This was done in dialogue with Samuel Weber's reading of Kierkegaard's Repetition, An Essay in Experimental Psychology, which can be found in his discussion with Terry Smith titled Repetition: Kierkegaard, Artaud, Pollock and the Theatre of the Image. In addition to the above, the philosophical distinction between recollecting and repeating, which Weber and Smith touch upon in their discussion, was examined and analyzed in view of the difference between anamnesis and mneme and by comparing Kierkegaard’s and Freud’s understanding of the relationship between recollection and repetition. There are two ancient Greek concepts that denote memory - anamnesis and mneme. The proposed thesis was that in order to understand Kierkegaard’s differentiation between the (ancient Greek) concept of remembering and the (modern) concept of repetition which is the basis of his theory of repetition, one first needs to precisely analyse which of the two Greek concepts of memory Kierkegaard refers to. The results of the analysis were presented: Kierkegaard refers to the concept of memory as anamnesis, but it is precisely mneme – and this is crucial – that offers the tool to interpret Kierkegaard’d conception of repetition as a contemporary category opposed to memory as anamnesis.


Authentic Emotion and


Are these tears real?  


Article by Bara Kolenc published in Maska (Performing Arts Journal) vol. XXIX, No. 161–162

spring 2014





The article discusses the phenomenon of aversion to exaggerated emotionality, characteristic of contemporary art. At the backdrop of historical subjectivity from the beginning of the 20th century to the present day, defined by the dissolution of the authenticity of the Self and the emergence of a deconstructed, mediated subject, the author addresses the causes and conditions of this phenomenon. She tackles the questions of representation and the unrepresentable, which she traces through the aesthetic of realism and its demand for authentic emotions, modernism and its denial of indication and postmodern artistic practices, which are paradoxically defined not only by a general scepticism toward the authentic, but also toward the absolute inauthenticity of the raw mediation of signs and stand-in structures. 


Antihumanism and Theatre or who has a Human Face


Article in Problemi 8-9/07




We opposed the concept of the face and the concept of the visage. The latter is linked to the classical metaphysical scheme, the foundation of which is an immanent undecidable connection between man and God, whereas the first is linked to the modern understanding of man as an independent, contingent, flowing event, oscillating into different structures. The visage is always associated with the idea of man advocated by humanism, by both classical metaphysical humanism, which, since the birth of the modern subject, started slowly losing its content related to the concept of the sacred, as well as the radical humanism of some of the philosophical currents of the 20th century, attempting to place man on the empty divine throne (hermeneutics, existentialism), and, last but not least, also contemporary humanitarian humanism intensively crawling through numerous para-theoretical media political channels.


In opposition to the visage, the face is essentially the face without the man. It is a face of a non-human as a superhuman, the one arising from emptiness, not founding itself in anything, that is a pure coincidence and uncertainty, indefiniteness and unpredictability, but at the same time self-creation, self-truth and self-certainty that retroactively arises through its own movement. The face is a field extending in the world without God, a field that is, in its foundation, connected to the stance of anti-humanism, a thought that does not centralise and privilege man as a natural (and divine) givenness, but establishes him as a flowing and, at times, arising factor of broader thought, social, and historical structures.

As some kind of a bastard, the face stands against the concept of life, asking philosophy: who am I?                   

The face does not say what it is or what it knows. The face is in possession of a certain knowledge of which it will not or cannot speak. The face is silent. But during this silence, the face keeps talking. 

Inhuman is that which in a certain way sticks out of the human, that does not fit or suit a human.  On the other hand, the inhuman is necessarily connected to the human – as that certain something it has to exceed, surpass or remain from. Inhuman is something that evidently steps out of that apology of man which is, in the broadest sense, captured under the common concept of humanism. This stepping out can occur in an uncovered or a covered way: as a clearly expressed antihumanism or as a menacing back side of humanism that we can, nowadays, in the time of the reign of democratic humanitarian humanism, observe as its obscene side product.