“The hardest knot is but a meandering string; tough to the finger nails, but really a matter of lazy and graceful loopings. The eye undoes it, while clumsy fingers bleed. He (the dying man) was that knot, and he would be untied at once, if he could manage to see and follow the thread. And not only himself, everything would be unravelled, — everything that he might imagine in our childish terms of space and time, both being riddles invented by man as riddles, and thus coming back at us: the boomerangs of nonsense… Now he had caught something real, which had nothing to do with any of the thoughts or feelings, or experiences he might have had in the kindergarten of life….”
— Vladimir Nabokov, The Real Life of Sebastian Knight
“It is as if the space between [them] were time: an irrevocable quality. It is as though time, no longer running straight before [them] in a diminishing line, now runs parallel between [them] like a looping string, the distance being the doubling accretion of the thread and not the interval between.”
— William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying
“If you could just ravel out into time. That would be nice. It would be nice if you could just ravel out into time.”
— William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying
“The spiral is a spiritualized circle. In the spiral form, the circle, uncoiled, unwound, has ceased to be vicious; it has been set free. I thought this up when I was a schoolboy, and I also discovered that Hegel’s triadic series (so popular in old Russia) expressed merely the essential spirality of all things in their relation to time. Twirl follows twirl, and every synthesis is the thesis of the next series. If we consider the simple spiral, three stages may be distinguished in it, corresponding to those of the triad: We can call ‘thetic’ the small curve or arc that initiates the convolution centrally; ‘antithetic’ the larger arc that faces the first in the process of continuing it; and ‘synthetic’ the still ampler arc that continues the second while following the first along the outer side. And so on.”
— Vladimir Nabokov, Speak, Memory
From the Oxford English Dictionary:
thread, n. 7. A thread in various mythological or legendary tales (esp. that of Theseus in the Cretan Labyrinth) is mentioned as the means of finding the way through a labyrinth or maze: hence in many figurative applications: That which guides through a maze, perplexity, difficulty, or intricate investigation. See clew, n.
thread, n. 8. That which connects the successive points in anything, esp. a narrative, train of thought, or the like; the sequence of events or ideas continuing through the whole course of anything; train. Esp. in phr. to pick (or take) up the thread(s) (of) , to continue (with) after an interruption or separation; spec. to resume an interrupted friendship; to lose the thread , to cease to follow the sense of what is being said.
clew, n. 7.b. With the literal sense obscured: An indication to follow, a slight direction, a ‘key’. See clue n., the prevalent spelling.
clue, n. 2.b. With the literal sense obscured: That which points the way, indicates a solution, or puts one on the track of a discovery; a key. Esp. a piece of evidence useful in the detection of a crime.
clue, n. 3. Any figurative ‘thread’: 3.a. the thread of a discourse, of thought, of history, tendency, etc.
denouement, n. A Romanic formation: Latin dis- + nodāre to knot, nodus knot. Unravelling; spec. the final unravelling of the complications of a plot in a drama, novel, etc.; the catastrophe; transf. the final solution or issue of a complication, difficulty, or mystery.