Memory Alpha, the wiki-driven yet authoritative compendium of Star Trek lore, defines the insidious condition known as the temporal causality loop:
A temporal causality loop (or simply temporal loop) is a special condition of time, in which time runs for a certain period, then resets itself to a point back in time, after which the events play out over again. However, afterimages of previous loops can be found to have effect on the dekyon field. This causes humanoid lifeforms to experience déjà vu.
As fans of ST:TNG can attest, temporal loops can lead to repeated collisions with starships captained by Kelsey Grammer, which can simply ruin any humanoid lifeform's day.

So now we have a description of the condition of repeated experience. Of course, it's possible that not everyone will hold with the above reason for this recursivity - you know, the whole "effect on the dekyon field" thing. Those people will likely find a more convincing explanation in the following self-referential statement:

Warning: Self-referential statements can lead to paradoxes. More importantly, self-blame (as in calling oneself stoopid), while oddly satisfying on some level, can cloud one's analysis of a recursive situation. In the end, it's understanding you want, not recriminations. You just want to why you're repeating mistakes you made last month, or last year; why you're relearning life lessons you thought you had pretty well incorporated; why your new boyfriend looks and acts suspiciously like your last three husbands.

If you go back to the Star Trek model of a temporal loop and view it as metaphor rather than plot device, you might equate "afterimages of previous loops" with static (more or less) memory, and "the dekyon field" with active (more or less) consciousness. The interaction might give rise to not merely déjà vu, but to a more persistent replication of pattern or rhythm (in the dekyon field!) that we might call habit.

If the cause has been correctly identified, what of the solution? In the ST:TNG episode referred to above, a distortion of the dekyon field would do the trick - a message or warning deliberately (consciously) recorded in the past for future decoding and analysis.

It's possible - though not necessarily supported by the Star Trek canon - that the conscious intent or deliberation could take place on the back end of this exchange: that is, in the future (the present to you), looking back. Perhaps both scenarios are taking place at once, with conscious intent taking place on both of the exchange. Maybe it's actually the same intent, assuming - as some heretics do - that all time is one. It's food for thought, to be sure.

The upshot is that we somehow have to remember - which is actually not that hard. We certainly remember our mistakes well enough to be prickly and defensive about them, so it's hardly a matter of forgetting (as I had first assumed when I started writing this post).

Rather, it's a matter of acting on that memory. This is where we tearfully diverge from our Star Trek model, for while it's apparently automatic for the android Data to choose the correct course of action having realized that his previous recursive efforts were futile...we organic types are a little more stubborn about repeating our mistakes.

At least, I've found that to be the case.


Thus endeth the light treatise on recursivity this morning. I gotta go recharge my dekyon field or something.

(Cross-posted, because all space is also one. Whoa!)

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