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caridwen  caridwen is offline
Join Date: 13 Jan 2005
Location: UK
Posts: 8,419

Moving on to the symbolism of the card - I think what is most puzzling about it is its claustrophobia. Even Escher's intense patterns make use of space but there seems no room for movement in the picture. Secondly, the traditional Hermit stands on a mountain top, he is in a position to observe everything below him, in this way he signifies the traditional Hermit or teacher famous in most cultures. Whereas this Hermit is inside, lost in some tower or turret, he looks frightened of what his light may shine on. There is nothing expansive here; in fact he can draw nothing towards him because he is enclosed and doesn't know where he'll step next or where it will lead. It looks like a maze that is getting tighter and tighter as he descends. This is fundamentally the opposite of the traditional interpretation of the Hermit who always ascends in fact he has reached attainment.

This is what lead me to wonder at the mind games and puzzles of Escher. If we look at the Mobius for example, it looks as though the ants are on two side but really they are on the same side. So could this card with its nod towards visual illusions be him ascending rather than descending? My point being (and I do have one!) is is it just an optical illusion?
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