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Sunday, July 29, 2018

Mazes and Labyrinths

Mazes and labyrinths have such mystery attached to them--from the fear of being lost and confused in a maze...
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 to the meditative process of walking a labyrinth as a spiritual exercise.  
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I found this article that examines the way writers use the concept:  Myths, Monsters, and the Maze: How Writers Fell in Love with the Labyrinth.  You have to scroll way down to get to the parts that interested me, but it begins with a gift from a guide in Knossos (Mrs. Grammatiki) to a little girl (the author, Charlotte Higgins) and how years later, the guide and the grown woman began a fascinating correspondence about mazes and authors.  

I didn't realize the etymology of the word clue.

"The Minotaur’s lair in Chaucer’s The Legend of Good Women is “crinkled to and fro”, and “shapen as the mase is wroght”. To find his way through it, Theseus must use the “clewe of twyne” that Ariadne gives him. The word “clewe” derives from Old English cliwen or cleowen, meaning a rounded mass, or a ball of thread. Eventually it became our word “clue”. It lost its material significance, and retained only its metaphorical meaning. But still, there it is, hidden but present: the clewe is in the clue (and the clue is in the clewe). Every step towards solving a mystery, or a crime, or a puzzle, or the riddle of the self, is a length of yarn tossed us by the helping hand of Ariadne."


There is an interesting discussion of Stanley Kubric's The Shining and the three mazes:  the hedge, the model, and the hotel itself...and young Danny as a Labyrinth walker.  

The correspondence between Charlotte Higgins and Mrs. Grammatiki began with letters and then became emails:
In her last email to me, Mrs Grammatiki wrote this: “I sometimes imagine that Daedalus, when he designed his labyrinth, must have re-created the ridges and convoluted folds of his own brain in the form of a building, as if it were a self-portrait. Do you not find that an image of the human brain resembles a labyrinth? And if Daedalus’s labyrinth is a diagram of the brain, it is therefore also a symbol of the imagination. It represents the manner in which humans make associations, one thought following another in a long procession, from the edge to the centre to the end. Stories have this comfort to them: they have a beginning and an end. They find a way out of the labyrinth.”
 How I love the idea of the brain as a labyrinth!

10 comments:

  1. This was very interesting! I walked a labyrinth twice on our trip to Oregon. It was not a really large one, but I had to pay attention so I could follow the twists and turns. And I also like the idea of a brain as a labyrinth or a 'twisty-turny' mystery with clues - my favorite kind. Thanks for sharing about the topic!

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    1. I'd love to walk a labyrinth--I wish I had a space to create one that I could walk daily. :)

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  2. Cool post! I've always been fascinated by mazes and labyrinths. :)

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    1. Me, too. It must be part of the human condition to feel almost compelled to follow the paths. As for mazes, I love that people are willing to create the complicated designs and wait for the hedges to grow!

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  3. I've always wanted to try to find my way out of a hedge maze. I love the etymology of the word clue. That kind of think is so fascinating.

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    1. The size and complexity of hedge mazes is a-mazing! :)

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  4. Mazes and labyrinths fascinate me, too. I've never been to one, but did experience the mirror maze which I found both thrilling and scary at the same time, lol.

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    1. A mirror maze would be so confusing!

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  5. What a fascinating post. I've never really seen a garden labyrinth but I'd love to. The etymology of clue is new to me, as well. And, I love the concept of the brain seen as a labyrinth.

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    1. This month's Scientific American has a brain on the cover--and it really did look like a labyrinth!

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