Mom always says, "never cut a knot, always untie it. If you can't figure out how to untie a knot, you'll never figure out how to solve your problems."

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Plato on my mind...

Today I'm stitching away...it is gray, windy and probably all the remaining leaves on the trees may just have to fall.  Or so it seems.  Only the O'Henry leaf will remain, it remains for us to find it.

I have been thinking a bit about the Allegory of the Cave from Plato's Republic.  The allegory deals with prisoners that are chained in a cave and only get to see shadows on the wall and perceive this to be reality. They have no concept of what reality really is.  (This is my summation in a nut shell.)  Of course once they are let out of the cave into the sun light and actually do see "the real," they don't know what/how to deal with it and long to return to the cave. And do.  This reminds me a little of stories you hear about blind people who have their sight restored.  They have to relearn their surroundings and people they knew by voice since their sense of reality has been altered.

 Plato also goes on to deal with the issue of Form and Idea.  Here he asserts the the non-material world  (abstraction - ideas or ideals) and not the material world of change which we know through sensation, construct  our highest and most fundamental reality.  In many ways I think this is believable.  If you think about it - what forms our ideals, the image industry...media.  (?)

So what does this have to do with my current stitching project (LEFT)...well, it's the shadow.  I think the shadow image is the most important feature to me.
Thinking about the shadow this way, I decided I needed to add another figure, hence, the shadow on the left emerged.  This cloth is a little darker - camera flashed washed it a bit.  I also decided I wanted to add a little dimension to the cloth...nothing to pronounced just a little more surface to introduce the concept of separation.  A boundary layer, defined as: a region of retired fluid near the surface of a body which moves through a fluid or past which a fluid moves; a bounder. Thinking that this might present a region where one body could not reach another body with noticeable ease.  

closer look at the shadow figure

I also added the "applique" type edge.  I brings forth the surface and contrasts the unfinished edges.  As Jude states, it a nice play with the edge. 

In thinking about how in someway, are lives are like shadows, I started thinking about simulacra.  Theories that were presented by Jean Baudrillard.  It was a much discussed issue when I was in graduate school so forgive me for the chit chat here.  I copied the following from Wiki because it would take me forever to get it all out and I probably would make it even more confusing...I guess this is also a issue about the separation of people that social media has brought about.  That school are considering that their students not learn writing (penmanship) because most of them are typing.  Conversations are mediated through mechanical means, etc. Those few entries that Jude did with written  text instead of typing were nice...all this and more brings me to this issue (but I have to say, not all media is a negative.  It allows  me to share here with  you, and other places in the media sphere.) But still...makes one stop to think.  So could a mere shadow bring all this about? ha.

Simulacra and Simulation is most known for its discussion of images, signs, and how they relate to contemporaneity. Baudrillard claims that our current society has replaced all reality and meaning with symbols and signs, and that human experience is of a simulation of reality. Moreover, these simulacra are not merely mediations of reality, nor even deceptive mediations of reality; they are not based in a reality nor do they hide a reality, they simply hide that anything like reality is irrelevant to our current understanding of our lives. The simulacra that Baudrillard refers to are the significations and symbolism of culture and media that construct perceived reality, the acquired understanding by which our lives and shared existence is rendered legible; Baudrillard believed that society has become so saturated with these simulacra and our lives so saturated with the constructs of society that all meaning was being rendered meaningless by being infinitely mutable. Baudrillard called this phenomenon the "precession of simulacra".

"Simulacra and Simulation" breaks the sign-order into 4 stages:
  1. The first stage is a faithful image/copy, where we believe, and it may even be correct that, a sign is a "reflection of a profound reality" (pg 6), this is a good appearance, in what Baudrillard called "the sacramental order". The page six refers to the volume titled Selected Writings. 
  2. The second stage is perversion of reality, this is where we believe the sign to be an unfaithful copy, which "masks and denatures" reality as an "evil appearance - it is of the order of maleficence". Here, signs and images do not faithfully show us reality, but can hint at the existence of something real which the sign itself is incapable of encapsulating.
  3. The third stage masks the absence of a profound reality, where the simulacrum pretends to be a faithful copy, but it is a copy with no original. Signs and images claim to represent something real, but no representation is taking place and arbitrary images are merely suggested as things which they have no relationship to. Baudrillard calls this the "order of sorcery".
  4. The fourth stage is pure simulation, in which the simulacrum has no relationship to any reality whatsoever. Here, signs merely reflect other signs and any claim to reality on the part of images or signs is only of the order of other such claims.
So there it is...or here it is...or was. My update. 


  1. holy s...what a post. When I scrolled down to see the image on SEW just now, I was instantly looking for that figure on the left (who was there before, afterall) and thought s/he was gone when I saw the rectangle-I looked at the rectangle long enough to think s/he had gone inside it- for real, laugh at me if you must! Then I saw the shadow and had to come over here...and now I want to tell you that I was sad when I heard they went back in the cave. And as for this simulacrum- eek, this may be why I can only fixate on 'process' and not 'product'. What a great place you have here.

  2. EUREKA! took many tries. all iI have to do now is remember how to do it!.. Marg

  3. dearest Ani...as the king said to Mozart...
    i like it, but too many notes.

    so..yes, but at this point in my life, it
    "my head swim"
    the words,

    but your cloth, oh....your cloth....oh and

  4. ani,

    oh my, your work is wonderful. it touches me deeply...

    i am waving and feeling very grateful...



  5. thank you Ani! you are going way deep...
    Have been thinking a lot about signs and symbols, fascinated by the Voodoo nature of the Masonic symbols of the lightning rods on the rooftops of the Victorian terraces of the 1880's in the inner city districts of so many cities in the world & particularly here in Sydney where i live. Who influenced who? Many of the symbols were used by the alchemists in the 1600's and go way back to the ancient Egyptians and earlier. They speak of mystery, magic and wonder and & it is in their very long history of being mysterious that they develop deeper meaning (or not as the case may be!)
    A favourite story about symbols and their power is by Jorge Luis Borges "Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius" (from the The Garden of Forking Paths 1941) here's an excerpt-
    "Two persons are looking for a pencil; the first person finds it, but says nothing; the second finds a second pencil, no less real, but more in keeping with his expectations. These secondary object are called hrönir, and they are, though awkwardly so, slightly longer. Until recently, hrönir were the coincidental offspring of distraction and forgetfulness."....
    (and a bit further along)
    ... "The systematic production of hrönir (says Volume Eleven) has been of invaluable aid to archaeologists, making it possible not only to interrogate but even to modify the past, which is now no less plastic, no less malleable than the future. A curious bit of information: hrönir of the second and third remove- hrönir derived from another hrön, and hrönir derived from the hrön of a hrön- exagerrate the aberrations of the first; those of the fifth remove are almost identical; those of the ninth can be confused with those of the second; and those of the eleventh remove exhibit a purity of line that even the originals do not exhibit. The process is periodic: The hrönir of the twelfth remove begin to degenerate. Sometimes stranger and purer than any hrön is the ur- the thing produced by suggestion, the object brought forth by hope."....
    (and this thought has stayed with me for 30 years ever since I first read this story)
    "Things duplicate themselves on Tlön; they also tend to grow vague or "sketchy", and to lose detail when they begin to be forgotten. The classic example is the doorway that continued to exist so long as a certain beggar frequented it, but which was lost to sight when he died. Sometimes a few birds, a horse, have saved an amphitheater."

  6. Hello Ani, Your work is sooo beautiful, I just love seeing this piece progress. I am in awe. Marg. ox

  7. Hi Ani,
    I think that it takes a lot of courage to write about something that takes a tremendous amount of thought and may challenge our own conception of reality. I enjoyed reading this post, although feel I have only cracked the surface of what you are trying to convey as well as what Mo Crow added. Thank you for having the courage to talk about Reality and our Perception of Reality.
    This reminded me of the series of called Century of the Self. If you have not seen it I think that you would enjoy it and it relates to this post. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IyPzGUsYyKM

    "To many in both politics and business, the triumph of the self is the ultimate expression of democracy, where power has finally moved to the people. Certainly the people may feel they are in charge, but are they really? The Century of the Self tells the untold and sometimes controversial story of the growth of the mass-consumer society in Britain and the United States. How was the all-consuming self created, by whom, and in whose interests?"

    The Cave by Plato influenced my quilt The Ties That Bind. This quilt was based on a story that I wrote about a girl that becomes part of a program. She finds that inside this computer, she is just one in a hive that they are studying. They study her by watching her play games that they have set up for her to play. She reverse engineers this by studying them by looking at the games and figuring out they are all win/ lose games. The Computer wins by absorbing your soul/life and you lose by never finding it.

  8. Profound indeed. I remind myself regularly that everything I do online is not 'real' - hitting the delete button will make it all disappear in an instant. And yet the connections are very real. There are real people out there, beyond the ether, responding to words on a screen, offering real friendship and valuable insight. I'm guessing you must also be familiar with Jung's idea of Shadow? This cloth already has many layers.

  9. well everything here except the cloth talk is way over my head.


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