Philosophy and a cave

Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of philosophy and science. Mighty interesting! And bound to find its way into my journal.

One of the concepts I ran into last week was Plato’s allegory of the cave. It basically says we human beings are poorly capable of seeing outside of our own truths when we don’t even know that what we know is just “our truth” and not THE truth because we only see our point of view, not aware other points of view exist. In other words, we project everything we see onto the screens of our truths. Although Plato explained all of this with a cave. Below is a video I found that explains it better than I have. English speakers can ignore the Dutch subtitles.



Journaling and processing

One of the reasons journaling is essential to me, is that it helps me process things I learn. I’ve developed the ambition to write a book and I’m in the middle of doing a lot of research for it. Hence the philosophy and the science I’m reading. Philosophy theory is relatively new to me. Although during my only year as a law student I did study philosophy of law. So sometimes I vaguely recognize names and theories. But it’s only now that I’m sucking it in like a thirsty sponge. The way I learn is by relevance. If information is relevant to me, I learn with the speed of light. Especially when I take the time to sit down with my journal and get going intuitively so that whatever’s entered my mind can find a place to settle down.

The settling-down part is a little smoother for philosophy than for science. I’ve a true alpha-mind, so science is hard for me. The biology part I’ve been reading was surprisingly okay, but now that I’ve come to the physics and chemistry part…oh boy…I have to focus and go full throttle. But overall, I think I’m getting it way better now than in high school when it all felt very abstract and I managed to blow up an ammeter. Whoops!



So, ammeters out of sight and only a journal to concern myself with, I found myself working on a page I’d later call “Projection”, after the allegory of the cave. At first I was pleased with it. This is what it was:

Projection - art journal page by Mandy van Goeije

This snake had been sitting on my desk for a few weeks. And when I’d stuck it onto this page, I quickly felt the desire it’s so often a symbol for – a seduction. Just think of Eve, the apple and the snake. And of how a snake symbolically often represents a fallus. In that sense – the snake already being a strong symbol on its own – it HAD to be on a page of projection. Because with the aids of a strong symbol I could tell a story of different truths.

So, after painting the woman and drawing the projected snake, I was done. Or so I thought. I even published it as an illustration for my reflective journal post on

But as snakes so often do in myths and fairy tales, this snake kept calling me. The page wasn’t done. The projection wasn’t finished. I left my journal open for a few days and then suddenly I saw it. The projection needed to come full circle. I needed the woman to see herself projected in the snake, which was easy to imagine because the outline of the snake already has such feminine curves. So the solution was a quicky:

Projection - art journal page by Mandy van Goeije


Once I saw what the page needed, it was a quick and easy job. And now, the page is done!



For this page I worked with simple supplies and techniques. I used (Schmincke Horadam) watercolor for the background and the painting. The snake was a clipping from a magazine I found in the paper bin. And the ink lines and lettering were done with a black unipin fineliner. All done on watercolor paper, 140lbs.


Lettering à la moi

Now someting about lettering. Lately, hand lettering is THE hype and so I turn away from it. Don’t get me wrong, I love beautiful lettering. Part of the awesome Book Art fair I visit every year is about calligraphy and it’s always interesting. It’s just that when someting becomes a hype, I’m outtathere!

A few weeks back I was invited to a hand lettering workshop and kindly declined. You see, hypes bring about standards; norms of how things should look and how they should be done. And everybody is pretty much doing the same thing. To be honest I was tempted for a little while, because my handwriting is not the fairest. But then again, it’s MINE. As is all about my visual journals. Every pages oozes me or an aspect of myself. Why standardize it to a hyped norm?

I’ve been getting questions from students in the past and people who want to pick up visual journaling. They are ashamed of their hand writing. Such a pity… You see, it’s important your story’s told. YOUR way…your words, your experiences, your thoughts, your visuals, your touch, YOUR hand. If your hand writing is hasty, well, then I know you are a bit hasty by nature. If your handwriting is meticulous and super precise, then your audience knows part of you is just that. If anything, YOUR PERSONAL handwriting adds to your story, just by being yours as it is.

So should you practise hand lettering? Well, if you like it, by all means. But if you like journaling more…nehhh…then skip it.I for one will probably love your pages more for it.