Monthly Archives: December 2010

Anguish in the face of the past


According to Being and Nothingness, as well as the kind of anguish you get from the many possible things you might do, there is also anguish in the face of the past.

For example you might make a resolution that you are going to do x (not eat too much chocolate, make 1000 quilt blocks in a year, read a philosophical tome, substitute resolution of your choice). However, because we are separated from our pasts by nothingness, we are not the same person we were when we made the resolution and the motives we had in making it may not be with us in the moment we are in now.

We feel anguish because we can access the resolution in our consciousness as reflection and know that it was what we intended to do, yet still feel unable to stick to it. Essentially if we are to stick to our resolutions we have to remake them in every moment.

A fitting topic for new year’s eve if ever there was one. Hope all your new years resolutions go well.

Here the quilt blocks I made yesterday. I don’t know how many I will get a chance to make today as I am off working on my third goal for the year ahead, which is to buy my first house. I have two to look at this morning.

124 Memory Chain

123 Cupids Arrowpoint

122 Storm Signal

114 Hill and Valley

125 Double Z

More about anguish


More about anguish. This time anguish as caused by infinite possibilities. Imagine I have spent years making a beautiful quilt, according to JP I might feel anguish because there is always the possibility that I will deliberately set fire to the quilt (he uses the example of throwing yourself off a cliff). Whatever my motivation to not set fire to the quilt, the amount of time I put into making it, my considerations of the hundreds of dollars of materials that went into it, the possibility will always remain that I will set fire to the quilt. That is the curse of freedom, we live with the fear of infinite possibilities.

I’m not sure about this one, as I’m not sure about a lot of what JP is saying. I have always toyed with the idea that we are much more determined than we would like to think that we are, that many of our actions are determined by our past experiences, our childhood. As humans part of our evolutionary success has been our ability to learn and remember. We respond to a new person we meet in a certain way because they remind us of another person we like or hate. We instinctively respond to foods of certain colours, smells because we have had them before and know they are good. We wouldn’t set fire to the quilt because we remember lessons from our childhood about not being wasteful, about respecting hard work.  

I have to concede though, that  just because we don’t use our freedom doesn’t mean we don’t have it. There is nothing stopping me from setting fire to the quilt except myself.

I did manage to get some sewing done yesterday. I am really liking the new fabric that I bought on Monday. I don’t think that I like it as much as the Old Primrose Inn range I have been using, but I think that there is a great contrast between the colours that make the blocks work better, particularly the ones with the blues.  

More cutting out and anguish


I haven’t done a lot of sewing, but I have done an awful lot of cutting out. I have a huge pile of plastic bags with bits in ready to sew. I have to say it is my least favourite part of the process, but I am looking at it from the perspective that if I get as much cutting out done while I have some time off I can get much more sewing done when I am back at work.

Being and Nothingness is all about anguish at the moment. Which is not what I would have traditionally thought of as anguish, but then I have not given the idea a great deal of thought.

I always thought of anguish more as suffering and probably more mental suffering than physical. For Sartre anguish is fear in the face of yourself, as opposed to fear in the face of things outside your self. I.e. you may be facing a physically dangerous situation and be rightly fearful of physical harm, but any anguish you feel is about how you will cope, about whether you think you are going to be brave enough. So technically it is impossible for someone else to cause you anguish? I’m not so sure, I think given the social nature of people it is possible that through our treatment of them we could cause them to doubt themselves, we could, and probably have, carried out mental torture. I think something like bullying might fall into this category.

Not a cheery topic I have to admit, but kind of interesting to think about. Perhaps all those positive thinking, self-help gurus have it right, you can’t change another person but you can change how you think about them and how you respond to their behaviour.

130 Flyfoot 3. This block was English paper pieced.

28 December 2010


Another day and it seems like nothing much has happened. It is still raining, JP is still going on about nothingness.

I suppose you have to be grateful for the small things. At least we are not experiencing flooding like many others here in Queensland. 

I did get to some sewing yesterday. I also took myself off to the shops to get some more fabric and did a bit of cutting out, including some cutting out for English paper piecing. I am actually quite looking forward to have some hand sewing to do.

I also put together a new blog page, which you can see under the blogroll heading at the right, which has a gallery of all my quilt blocks in one place. So you don’t have to go through all the rants about Sartre if you just want quilt blocks 🙂

48 Coffin Star

67 Alaska. The brown bits were meant to be in the light blue fabric, but I forgot to cut them out and didn't realise until I started to sew, by then I had no blue left so I subbed the brown. I don't think it looks too bad.

93 Grandmother's Own 1



Are we free? I sometimes feel like we are free in some ways but not in others. For example, I have till the 4th of January off work so I am free to do what I want. However, since we are about to run out of peak time download on our internet plan I can only use the internet between 12 midnight and noon. Though I suppose I still have a choice, I could choose to surf the net at night and take us over the limit, resulting in a reduced download speed for the rest of the month. Perhaps freedom is not having unlimited choice, but real choice of the options before you.

Why am I rambling on about freedom you may ask? It came up in Being and Nothingness. Freedom and Nothingness are intertwined. The argument goes that nothingness is not being, but needs a kind of being to support it. Nothingness comes from people, we create it. Though I am not really sure that create is the right word. Probably more apt to say that we are the being that supports nothingness. What that means though is that because nothingness cannot come from being, in order to be the being that supports nothingness we have to be more than just being. We have to be free.

I am still not sure that I understand all the arguments behind this thinking, but I think that is pretty cool. I have to confess that I have been wondering what the point was of all this rambling about being and nothingness, but freedom is something I can understand as being a worthy end. I am feeling a lot more interested in what the rest of the book might hold than I was before I read this bit.

I did manage to get some sewing done yesterday.  

83 Children of Israel. The little strips in red are appliqued on. They were supposed to be in the yellow background fabric but I didn't think it showed up as well so I swapped it for the red.

66 Album 4 patch

86 Providence Block 1

Lines and nothingness


Does a line imply nothingness? Apparently so, because as soon as you have a line you automatically have stuff that is not the line. That’s the gem of wisdom from Being and Nothingness today.

At the moment I feel like I have too much to do, and nowhere near enough time to do it in. I am trying not to get to stressed about it. I figure if I just get started and do as much as I can, and if I don’t get it all done then it’s not the end of the world. 

I probably won’t post tomorrow, might be back boxing day, not sure. Hope you all have a wonderful Christmas.

71 Square album four patch

34 four patch Rail Fence

23 December 2010


I have to confess to having read absolutely no Being and Nothingness today. I did however make this gingerbread house.

I quickly abandoned any attempt to make it look like it did on the box the kit came in, after the heat and my complete lack of piping skills rendered everything a very sticky mess, and just randomly stuck stuff all over the place.  Note the mutant gingerbread men out the front.

I also finished 3 blocks.

78 Mothers Choice

73 Susannah

65 Arrowheads

22 December 2010


Am still wading through bits of the book on being and nothingness and the relation between the two. At the moment Sartre is looking at what Heidegger thinks about the whole thing. Apparently he thinks that we need nothingness in order to get to being, but facing nothingness brings us anguish. So, if we want to know the truth, we have to be prepared to face the misery that goes with it I guess.

I am getting a little frustrated with the style of language. I mean, really, who uses the word posteriority? Why would you, when you could just as easily say it comes after. I guess most of my experience in writing stuff has always been for a broader audience and I was always taught to be wary of making things more excessively complicated than they need to be.

There are only two blocks today. While the sewing machine is working beautifully after being serviced, unfortunately lots of stuff ended up on the unpicking pile because I sewed it together in the wrong order.

68 Indian Chief

79 King's cross

What comes before being?


What comes before being? Apparently not nothing. Apparently nothing is not the absence of being it is the removal of being. So, you must have being before you can have nothing. There is no before being. Before and after are concepts that come into play with being. I’m still struggling to get my head around that one, possibly its like saying that time starts when existence does.

I have just got my sewing machine back today so expect plenty more quilt blocks over the next couple of days. In the meantime, here are some I prepared earlier.

75 Nelson's Victory

82 God's eye

20 December 2010


Am having one of those days where no matter how hard I try to concentrate words just seem to bounce off my brain.  I could read 50 pages and not tell you a thing about what they are about. I guess I just have to expect this as part of the process. Some days are going to be easier than others.

Am going to go watch something mindless on tv and eat lots of chocolate till the fog in my head clears.

69 Cross within a cross