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Week 19: 11 – 17 May

9how19aProgress continues to be slow this week, partly the result of actually having to work for a living, which is a bit of a shock. Many of the professional bodies in Scottish archives have been meeting this last week, and I had to attend them all, and give presentations to several of them into the bargain. (I was prepared to offer a Cadbury’s creme egg as a reward to anyone unlucky enough to have to listen to me four days in a row, like Captain Ahab offering a gold doubloon to the man who first spotted the white whale, but no one did.)

9how19bAnyway, the rows continue to accumulate under my needles, and in a week or two I’ll have to start thinking about dividing front and back. Though I did hit a low point when I discovered that I’d lost concentration at the start of a pattern row and had knit 4/purled 2, instead of knit 2/purl 2. And then made the same mistake again later in the same row after I’d unpicked it all. Sigh.

9how19cI tend to ricochet backwards and forwards between light and heavy fiction in my reading, and after an extended sojourn in Steven Erikson’s astonishingly violent fantasy universe I’ve gravitated to Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum. It’s a sort of antidote to conspiracy theories like the Da Vinci Code, in which some publishers get so exasperated by the insane theories about the Templars, Rosicrucians, and the Holy Grail that are submitted to them they decide to compile them all into a master conspiracy theory as a joke – and then find out it really exists.

The book has too many ideas to summarise easily (and Eco devotes too many pages – hundreds of them, alas – to tedious details of the conspiracies; reader, I skipped them) but one of the most interesting is our obsession with finding patterns in seemingly unconnected events. I was going to make a joke to the effect that the location of the Holy Grail has now been encoded into the pattern of one of my ganseys, but given what happened to one of the characters in Eco’s book who did something similar, on second thoughts forget it, it’s not true… What do you mean you don’t believe me?

3 comments to Week 19: 11 – 17 May

  • =Tamar

    Rumor had it in the early 1970s that Robert Anton Wilson had that precise experience – he compiled all the conspiracy theories he could into the Illuminati trilogy for the purposes of fiction, and then found himself convinced by it.

  • Suzanne

    The endless repetition of the Staithes variation is messing with your head. The pattern should perhaps come with a disclaimer to that effect: “this handsome texture pattern may cause temporary aberration and confusion”. According to the photos, the division of front and back has already taken place. Did you perhaps mean “joining front and back”, at the shoulder? Or have I completely misunderstood?

  • Gordon

    Tamar – haven’t come across the Robert Anton Wilson story before but it sounds very similar. The problem with Eco seems to be that he really does know all about the history of everything for the last 3,000 years, and so his characters are often just mouthpieces for his erudition. Sometimes his books feel like treatises written as dialogues. But I guess that’s half the point (and serves me right for reading above my station).

    Suzanne, well spotted. Alas, if only the aberration and confusion was temporary, but I fear it may be here to stay! Of course, when I talk about dividing the front and back, I should have said “dividing for the left and right shoulders, either side of the plunging neckline”. For my next project – a gansey which tells a short story in braille…