The maze is a response to domesticity. As soon as civilization rose and people came to know ordered life, the maze was born.
A garden is a swath of wilderness beaten flat, contoured and caged. It denies the metal and brick of the city but at the same time embraces its order, for a garden is at its heart a town built of natural materials. It has promenades and islands of colour, symmetries and symbols. Even in bloom gardens are static things, where one sits or does not sit, crosses or circumnavigates.
The earliest labyrinths, in contrast, attempted to engineer a garden with a temporal flow -- a walking narrative from the input to the output, a simulation of wandering. These early labyrinths featured just one path, however, reflecting the difficulty of stripping the garden of its architectural underpinnings.
The true maze, however, is a designed space in which one might recapture one of the most primeval experiences of wilderness -- that of being lost.
When the hand of design is too firm the maze becomes boring, a map of a man's cleverness made manifest. Nature, however, is much more sly. Where a city's order becomes buried beneath layers of new, uncoordinated building wildernesses appear in the crannies, organic spaces made of the urban medium in which all sense of civilization's governance is nearly banished. These mazes grow most fruitfully in ghettoes and slums, in neighbourhoods where the hand of order has been stayed by the competing virulences of street-level human needs. When you are lost in one of these mazes you might feel the untainted fear of your ancestor in the wilderness, direction ambiguous and predators everywhere.
There is value in feeling lost. It is a brand of freedom.
Freedom, too, is the opposite of domesticity through it is domesticity that grants us so many freedoms. Under the burden of these freedoms it can become easy to lose touch with what it is like to actually feel free, so inered in our familiar liberties that they take on the flavour of walls.
I have previously written about the willing suspension of disbelief. Today I ask you to lend your consideration to the notion of willingly losing sight of your navigational anchors, and letting yourself be physically unbounded by your knowledge.
Take my advice: get lost. It's great.
Civilization invented mazes because we need them.
Posted by Cheeseburger Brown at 16:45