Happily Lefebvre, in his study of rhythm, begins with a critical attitude towards repetition. He says that "there is no identical absolute repetition, indefinitely. Whence the relation between repetition and difference. When it concerns the everyday, rites, ceremonies, fêtes, rules and laws, there is always something new and unforeseen that introduces itself into the repetitive: difference" (Rhythmanalysis, p. 6). Well, how critical is this stance really? Does difference relate to something that doesn't exist by a relation that doesn't exist? Does difference not exist, or not exist in some special way, say, indefinitely in an identical absolutely way, or even differently?
Lefebvre says, "Not only does repetition not exclude differences, it also gives birth to them; it produces them. Sooner or later it encounters the event that arrives or rather arises in relation to the sequence or series produced repetitively. In other words: difference" (p. 7, Lefebvre's bold). We should be critical of all kinds of mythomanias of difference and also repetition. So how does repetition, which doesn't exist indefinitely in any identical absolute wayin other words, we might conclude, there is no apeiron of repetition, no repetition of apeironactually produce difference? By encountering it, Lefebvre says very clearly. Of course previously he had said difference "introduces itself," we have not forgotten. But let's stick with this second attempt to think a relation between repetition and difference. Is a squirrel produced by any old encounter with a squirrel? Are we to imagine that to be is to be encountered?
Lefebvre has a method. He begins with abstract concepts, which he pioulsy mistrusts as being inadequate to the real (which apparently is not a concept), and he then moves from abstractions to the concrete. Dwelling in the concrete beforehand, making observations based on experience, and then making abstractions: this would not be a phase of Lefebvre's critical research method. And we can see the results. Something that doesn't exist in any certain way that we have been able to nail down gives rise by a process that we can't be completely certain of (because even if Levebvre didn't contradict himself the process doesn't resemble other processes of giving rise to things and would force us to adopt without any argument a radical belief about how beings arise) to something of critical importance (namely difference), though we are not sure why it is of critical importance nor how it exists.
The dreary monism of the dialectic: "everything is cyclical repetition through linear repetitions" (p. 8). The "depths of the dialectic" indeed. And we might note that this thinking both assumes and contradicts panta rhei, if we are to vigorously interpet "indefinitely": it assumes that everything exists in this indefinite way consistent with panta rhei, an assumption that follows from remembering Lefebvre's definition of repetition, and it contradicts panta rhei by positing the cyclical. That contradiction of basic assumptions I suppose is the charm of dialectical thinking. I don't mean to complain. It does have charm.
Are there secret rhythms? No! Lefebvre assures us, because there are no secrets (p. 17). Yet when Lefebvre begins to classify rhythms he identifies secret rhythms (including memory and the unsaid and the said), public rhythms, fictional rhythms, which relate to false secrets (the imaginary!I so share Leferbve's excitement I would even speak of imaginary rhythms) and dominating-dominating rhythms (just one class here), which are also imaginary but last longer than fictional rhythms and aim for an effect that is beyond themselves. Hmm.