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I had a single top-level layer called EAR. There were two vector paths which made it up.

Somehow, illustrator has transformed it from a normal, single top-level layer into a three-level layer structure. With two EAR layers, and then the paths separated into two layers on the third.

I have tried everything. I cannot drag the graphics onto the top-level. I cannot merge the layers. I cannot make the paths into a layer. Release to layers does nothing. It just duplicates another EAR layer. I can't move any components of the layer anywhere, or do anything that would make sense.

I want the artwork how it originally was, in one single layer. I want to merge the paths, and get rid of the container layer holding the EAR layer.

I also would like to know how to configure Illustrator so that it never does this again, this automatic creation of hierarchies.

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never mind I figured it out. I just had to rename 85 layers. This program is horrible. I remember now why I hated it in college. – Jack Aug 28 '12 at 22:21

Flatten Artwork (accessed from the flyout menu in the Layers panel) will reduce multiple layers down to one new layer. Be aware, though, that some clipping masks might be lost if they've been placed at the root of a particular layer rather than in a group with the objects they're clipping. (I've dealt with this a few times in the past with artwork supplied by a particular client)

My other piece of advice would be to make sure to either save periodically during extensive editing in Illustrator, or have a few backups of your artwork in case disaster strikes. Being able to Revert back to just a few minutes ago rather than a few hours ago is a good feeling, I can attest! :) Sorry to hear about your sucky experience - Illustrator is a powerful piece of software, but sometimes it can be too powerful for its own good.

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