Helping leaders find their way through complexity, ambiguity, paradox & doubt.



Penelope Unraveling Her Work at Night (1886)

Dora Wheeler (1856–1940)

Silk embroidered with silk thread

114.3 cm x 172.7 cm


Photograph by courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, United States.


“The business of thinking is like Penelope’s web : it undoes every morning what it has finished the night before.” — Hannah Arendt


Via Ramin Jahanbegloo, Letters to a Young Philosopher (page xvii)





 In the absence of Odysseus Penelope’s fate becomes unstable. Her weaving and unweaving the famous web is emblematic of this instability. Being at the same time a married woman and a numphē (young girl at the age of marriage), and refusing to solve this aporia, she invests weaving with its full metaphorical potential: Penelope rules over the destiny of Ithaca by “analysing” her web each night (alluesken histon). Thus the history of our own word for unravelling complexity — analysis — starts here, in the nocturnal textile activity of the “most powerful feminine mind among Greek women,” to use the Odyssean way of singling out Penelope’s outstanding intelligence. Source: Penelope’s great web: the violent interruption, by Ioanna Papadopoulou.



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“I have gathered a posy of other men’s flowers, and nothing but the thread that binds them is mine own.” — Michel de Montaigne


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