Category Archives: Philosophy



Life is pretty boring here at the moment. I have been plodding along with the hand quilting, and a little bit of machine sewing on a new quilt top.

I have been trying to read a bit more and have just finished reading a rather interesting book by Michael J Sandel. It was about the ethics around genetic enhancement, gene therapy and stem cell research. Not a topic I had really thought about much before so it was an interesting read. I thought it was particularly interesting that one of his arguments against was that it was dis-empowering to attempt to change our selves to fit the world, rather than build a world to suit us as we are. My initial reaction was to reject that idea from an environmental standpoint, but I think he was talking more about culture and society. If anyone can change themselves to fit what society thinks of as acceptable, where is the incentive to build a society which is accepting of difference?

Which takes me nicely I guess to the topic of judging people and hubris, of which I had a rather splendid moment this week.

We got an email at work asking people to participate in Dry July, a campaign where people pledge not to drink alcohol for 1 month in order to raise money for people with cancer. So I am reading this, as a non-drinker, thinking how silly it was that people think it is a challenge to go without alcohol for a whole month, when really it shouldn’t be. Hence, todays topic about judging, and the excessive pride that usually goes with it when you think that you are better than the people whom you are judging. My hubris didn’t last long of course. I quickly remembered that my last effort to go without something that I enjoyed, chocolate and cola, lasted a spectacular 12 hours. 

Being my usual rash and impulsive self, I then decided what I really needed to do was give up chocolate and cola for a month, just to prove that I could. I’m not generally in favour of giving foods up. Usually, it works about as well as dieting. You last a little while and then you splurge. However, a month isn’t a permanent fixture and since it will take me nicely up to the start of my holiday gives me a good opportunity to rid myself of some bad habits, so I am not constantly craving caffeine and sugar while I travel. Then when I get back I will reintroduce the cola and chocolate as treats, rather than as everyday occurrences. 

On an entirely separate matter, I have decided to start making my own bread. Don’t ask why. Another one of my rash decisions. There is a picture of my first effort below. It was slightly lopsided, a fact I am going to blame on my oven not heating up evenly and not the fact that I didn’t knead it enough or add salt, because I didn’t have any. Other than that, it actually tastes alright. A little stodgy, but beautiful toasted with a drizzle of honey.

Anyway, enough from me for one day.

My bread



I am finished.

647 pages of Sartre and 1002 quilt blocks.

In the book they go up to  1003* but there is no 548. A while ago that might have bothered me, but it doesn’t now. There are other errors in the book too, but overall I think given its size and scope there are surprisingly few. It’s no more perfect than my blocks are, probably more so. One thing I have learned over the course of this journey is that I am not a perfectionist, and I think I am okay with that.

I don’t think it has quite sunk in yet that I am finished. My brain is still in the what do I have to do next kind of thinking.

Thanks to everyone who has read and commented and given me encouragement over the last year. I really don’t think I could have done it without the sense of accountability the blog has given me.

Here is your last lot of blocks, then I am going to go update the gallery, then I am going to go to bed. I will probably not blog for a while. Will post some pics when I make something out of all these blocks.

*I know I said in an earlier post there was 1007, but if there is one thing that you should have learnt by now it’s that I really can’t count.

Still on freedom


Still reading about freedom. As usual I am not 100% sure I am understanding all his arguments, but I think the general gist is we are still free even though we might think we are constrained by others. Sartre’s general concept of freedom seems to be that we are free to create meaning in the world. The problem arises when we come across meaning in the world that has been created by others for example culture and language. The bit I am reading is discussing ways around that, but I guess he is probably going to say that we are still free in spite of these limitations on us. The good news is that I now only have 100 pages to go, so not doing too badly on the reading front.

My blocks aren’t going anywhere near as well. I only got 4 done yesterday, and that’s pretty average for a Saturday. I did get loads of cutting out done though, so I suppose that’s a bonus.

More freedom


Am plodding along. Trying to be patient, and slowly getting through blocks and the topic of freedom. At the moment Sartre is going through all the potential obstacles to freedom and attempting to explain why we are still free in the face of them. So far we have looked at the world, and now am on the topic of others. Not so much others physically restraining us from being free but other constraining us by imposing meaning on the world before we get to it. For me this is the doozy. Can we escape our upbringing, our culture? We are free because we choose ourselves, but what if the self we choose is the self that our upbringing tells us to be?

freedom to choose


Something to thing about – according to Sartre we are free to choose, but we are not guaranteed success. It’s quite depressing actually, and I don’t think it quite covers all possibilities. That is I could choose to move my arm but if you have tied me up it won’t work. Common sense says I’m not free, but according to Sartre so long as I can keep trying to move, even if there is no possibility of succeeding, I am.

Other than that am feeling kind of lethargic, but am so close to Christmas I am trying not to give into it and slow down.

Contradictions… maybe


After a week of fogginess the brain is starting to kick into gear, well at least just a little. I still have the attention span of a gnat, but I can work with that. Who needs to read more than two lines at a time anyway.

The thing that is bothering me at the moment is a possible contradiction between Sartre’s stuff about freedom and something he said earlier about resolutions. Essentially what he said earlier was that if you make a resolution you have to remake it in every instant. However he is saying about freedom that we make a choice and the choice becomes part of the flow of our being. I suppose it need not be contradictory. We could need to remake the resolution over and over if it doesn’t mesh with the self we are choosing. So we have to choose to be on a diet over and over again, because the self we have chosen is the self who eats compulsively. I am still waiting for some clear direction on how exactly one goes about choosing a new self.

forgetting stuff


Remember a while back I was complaining about Sartre going on about temporality and it not making a lot of sense. Well of course not seeing the relevance of it my brain confined it to the okay to forget pile. Now of course it is needed. Apparently it all ties in to freedom. You choose yourself and the choice plays out in your life in a kind of flow. There are no instants, no moments, just flow of time, and your freedom is bound up in the flow. To get a moment where you choose to change direction you have to make the moment, and in a kind of circular fashion you make the moment when you choose. Of course it all rests on the previous arguments about time, which I wish I could remember, because if I didn’t agree with them then none of the present stuff stands.

Of course in 20 years time the idea about time will probably pop out of my head at some random moment when I need it least in some vague fashion along the lines of “I  remember reading some thing some where once…”

In sewing news… I have decided I just have to stop thinking about it too much. If I think too much about targets or deadlines or how much I have left to do it all gets a little too overwhelming where if I just keep plugging away at it, doing what I can do right now then I actually get more done. At the very least I enjoy myself more.



It’s starting to feel a lot like summer. Hot and sticky. Might have to move my sewing machine to the room with the aircon, because it is just too hot to work in the sewing room even with the fan on.

Have been doing a little bit of sewing, not so much reading. I am still going round in circles in my head between freedom and action. I think the problem is that deep down I want for you to have to be conscious of an act for it to be free. That wouldn’t really fit in Sartre’s world view.

Is it freedom


According to Sartre, while we are free to be who we are, most of what we do stems from that choice. We make a choice that we are a quilter, or that we are affected by our upbringing and through our actions we keep reinforcing that choice. We make quilts or we keep doing the same behaviours over and over again. We can choose to do otherwise but only by choosing to be someone else. In order to do something different we have to radically overhaul our being. Is that freedom? I don’t know. I suppose it treads a line between freedom and determinism and seems to manage the balance well. I don’t know that it matches up with the experience of choice. If I choose to do something different, it is me who chooses, me who struggles and me who feels proud. There is an I who feels proud of the change.

Trouble with reading


I have been trying to do some reading before I go to work, but am having trouble focussing. Not sure what it is, I do a half a page and then my mind just drifts off. I worry I am not absorbing an awful lot. I probably just need to get back in the habit.

I’m sewing hexagons at the moment. They are coming together quite fast by hand, but are tricky to photograph because I can’t crop them properly. I’m sure I probably could if I tried in photoshop, but I don’t know that I can be bothered right now.