Labyrinths

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A labyrinth is a structure from which you cannot escape.

Kathy Acker writes about the labyrinth, and how it was built to hide away the Minotaur, the illicit offspring of King Minos’s wife. The King didn’t want people to know about his wife’s unnatural sexual desires – lusting after a bull – and so he built a labyrinth to keep the Minotaur inside, to hide the secret.

Perhaps this was the first labyrinth, but it wasn’t the last.

A labyrinth is a structure from which you cannot escape.

Life is a labyrinth: there’s no escape from life. Death, you might say. But life and death are one. Life is a one-way journey to death, and there’s no getting off before you reach the destination.

Kathy Acker writes about the idea of a labyrinth as a straight line. I believe Borges wrote about the same idea.

You don’t have to think of life in this way. Somewhere you decided that death is inevitable and permanent and the end of life. Why did you do this? How did your life become a labyrinth?

It’s through the stories we share with each other that labyrinths are created.

A labyrinth is a structure from which you cannot escape.

Acker writes that a story becomes true as soon as it is told to another person. There is no such thing as a false story, unless you keep it to yourself.

Writing is a good exercise because it takes those things you might keep to yourself and makes them true. Writing, for Acker, is communication.

A labyrinth is a structure from which you cannot escape. Some stories become so powerful there’s no getting outside them.

And so, by the time we reach adulthood, we’ve been told the story again and again: and this is how it becomes true that there is no escape from death. And this truth can make us afraid, so that we don’t ask questions. You know there is a labyrinth, but you don’t dare ask what is hidden at the centre of it.

If everything is true as long as it is communicated, then we’re living in a world where contradiction is possible. It had better be possible, if the life-death story is true. Because the opposite has to be true too, for there to be any hope for humankind.

You need to experiment with different truths to open up new possibilities. The trouble with having just one story is that you get trapped in it and can’t see it from the outside.

A labyrinth is a structure from which you cannot escape.

Acker thinks a labyrinth could be hexagonal too. The good thing about a hexagon, compared to a straight line, is that it seems like something you might be able to escape from, if you were lucky or very clever. It’s more complex than a straight line, and so there might be a trick to it, some detail you’ve overlooked until now.

You need to construct new stories in order to see the old ones from the outside.

If you could see a labyrinth from the outside you would be able to find the way out, and it would cease to be a labyrinth.

A labyrinth is a structure from which you cannot escape. Even those stories that do not come to dominate an entire culture tend to remain: we cannot escape any truth that has become true. The only way out is through the labyrinth: stories and more stories, labyrinths and more labyrinths.

A labyrinth is a structure from which you cannot escape: it always comes back to the form of the labyrinth, the form of truth- and story-telling.

(Image is from Pixabay.)

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