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The Finishing of the Web with Text

The Space Left Behind

I provide (in two translations) this wonderful image of the bold spider who in defilement fills in the unfinished portions of Persephone’s weaving loom, with a “text” of its own. Demeter has rushed in to find this Natural World, dark completion of her daughter’s lost life. It is a spectacular inversion of divinity, humanity, text, nature.

Challenge to Panpsychism

Any panpsychist who denies a firm, categorical divide between nature and culture must find a way to embrace the way in which text and web cross to fill each other’s spaces.

1. When she saw the gate-keepers fled, the house unguarded, the rusted hinges, the overthrown doorposts, and the miserable state of the silent halls, pausing not to look again at the disaster, she rent her garment and tore away the shattered corn-ears along with her hair. She could not weep nor speak nor breathe and a trembling shook the very marrow of her bones; her faltering steps tottered. She flung open the doors and wandering through the empty rooms and deserted halls, recognized the half-ruined warp with its disordered threads and the work of the loom broken off. The goddess’ labours had come to naught, and what remained to be done, that the bold spider was finishing with her sacrilegious web.

2. …the web [telas] half-destroyed with confused threads, she recognized, the art of the loom interrupted. That divine work had been lost; a bold spider was filling in the space left behind with a blasphemous weave [textu].

Claudian, De raptu Proserpinae (3.146-158)

Ut domus excubiis incustodita remotis

et resupinati neglecto cardine postes,

flebilis et tacitae species apparuit aulae,

non exspectato respectu cladis amictus

conscidit et fractas cum crine avellit aristas.

Haeserunt lacrimae, nec vox aut spiritus oris

redditur, atque imis vibrat timor ossa medullis.

Succidui titubant gressus; foribusque reclusis,

dum vacuas sedes et desolata pererrat

atria, semirutas confuso stamine telas

atque interruptas agnoscit pectinis artes.

Divinus perit ille labor spatiumque relictum

audax sacrilego supplebat aranea textu.

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A Spider about

William of Auvergne’s Spider, 13th century, cause and belief

Thus the apprehension, as I said, of the spider with respect to the capture of the fly, is occasioned by the motion or concussion of a thread in his web, but it is effectively or efficiently caused by an innate light, or by an art naturally implanted in the spider. Just as you may see reminiscences and recollections issue forth from the habits of the sciences, and the virtues and vices, by the lightest stimuli of external occurances. This is seen in the example which Aristotle of the mental aptitude (solertia ), i.e., of the man who sees someone talking with the money-changer, and from this concludes that he wishes to get some money changed by him. Here this sight gives the occasion to the quick-witted mind, so that out of comes this thought, or suspicion. However, it is manifest that the view itself could not in itself be, in any way, the cause of this opinion or suspicion; on the other hand there is no doubt that there is something of an occasion, and that as a kind of help (adminiculum ) it favors the formation of the opinion. But the quick-witted is in itself the cause of the formation of the thought, which issues forth from it like an overflow, or like a stream from its source (trans. Moody).

De Universo