abyss for Western thought

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Senior Member

what is 'the abyss for Western Thought'? Anybody could tell please?

Eco (1986) observes that mediaeval allegory constructed a systemic anchorage for meaning, yet at the same time opened the floodgates for the proliferation of possible meanings for any given emblem, to the point at which it risked that bad infinity which for millennia defined and perhaps still defines the abyss for Western thought."

Film Theory and Contemporary Hollywood Movies, chapter two
: The Supernatural in Neo-baroque Hollywood, by Sean Cubitt
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  • velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    In Western art history, "mise en abyme" is a formal technique in which an image contains a smaller copy of itself, in a sequence appearing to recur infinitely; "recursive" is another term for this. "Mise en abyme" literally means "placed in abyss".

    In 1893, André Gide coined the literary term mise en abyme (pronounced “meez en a-beem,” literally “into the abyss”), which refers to a work within a work, a play within a play, a book within a book, a picture within a picture:

    When I was a child we sometimes drank a liquid coffee that came in a bottle, and the label showed a man bearing a tray with a bottle of this coffee, and on that bottle was a label showing a man bearing a tray with a bottle of coffee, and on the bottle was a label...and so on, to infinity. You may also see this effect in a painting of mirrors, where the artist's studio contains a mirror in which is reflected the artist's studio, in which there is a mirror that reflects the studio, with a mirror...and so on, to an infinity of mirrors.

    The "abyss" denotes an infinity of regression, endless chains of association.
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