Ladders are human body extenders. Tools of ascension.


While writing my essay last term I was absentmindedly flicking through a book of prints by Robert Fludd to aid procrastination. This print really stood out and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

The caption reads:

‘In man, various faculties of knowledge- sensory perception, the immagination, reason and deep insight- correspond to the tiered arrangement of the macrocosm. The last rung is the direct comprehension of the divine world in mediation. The ladder ectends no further, because God himself cannot be comprehended.’

How different things must have been in 1619. How wonderful that reason and intellect can be tools of ascension towards the divine:

“our charactor or rational soul climbs by divine assistance through the order of creatures from the lowest…to the craftsman and architect of all things.”

Oswald Croll, 1647



The symbol of Jacob’s Ladder is one way of articulating the experience of being alive. a connecting structure, a bridging form, a Paracelsian idea of the human being as both microcosm and macrocosm.

Perhaps Jacobs ladder has a mimetic relationship with the symbol of the cone. Now that the cones have turned against me I might explore ladders instead. It will serve them right.

After all, a ladder has the added advantage of being intrinsically linked with the human body; providing a hook for the imagination and an invitation to the viewer to embark on a journey.


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