Magic in the web
Cloth is a part of ordinary life we tale for granted, barely recognising, as it wraps our bodies and drapes our living space, how far it determines our domestic comfort and our sense of social self: "From the moment we are born, our earliest sensations are intimately bound up with textiles. We are wiped clean with soft cloths, swaddled in blankets, our baby limbs are tenderly encouraged into garments". Not surprisingly, we talk of having or wanting a "security blanket". Cloth is a marker of civilisation and civility which, through metaphor, pervades our language. Recognition that "text" and "textile" are cognate, from the Latin "texere" to weave, is now commonplace. We spin a yarn, string words together, follow a thread of narrative, tie up any loose ends, fabricate or embroider a tale and dismiss something as a tissue of flies. Critics have derided writers by using cloth-driven metaphors like "bombast" and "fustian," while "seamless," "unpick" and "suture" form part of contemporary critical idiom. Now we communicate by computer on the internet and the worldwide web. Many cultures, observing how material emerges from intersections of warp and weft, see cloth production as an image of creation. The Rig Veda and Upanishads represent the fabric of the universe as spun or woven, while Plato offers a vision of the planets rotating about the spindle of the goddess Necessity as her daughters, the three Fates, sit alongside spinning the thread of individual human lives.
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