Monday, December 13, 2010

Some Unusual Qualities of Particular Labyrinths

The mirrors in the so-called "Palace of Narcissus" actually served a distinct purpose, as do mirrors in palaces generally, to serve as simple surveillance systems controlling vulnerable points of access, such as stairs. It is for this reason true that, as the lyrics of the lay go, the number of mirrors proliferated as the number of actual personnel in the palace declined. However, the importation of more and more mirrors into the palace was rather the effect of fewer and fewer personnel (the mirrors being needed so fewer and fewer guards could control the same amount of space) rather than as folklore has it, the cause.

Further, it has been mathematically demonstrated, that, owing to the well-understood laws of optics, it is wholly possible that the palace’s main chamber could have contained numerous blind spots, because of, and not despite its mirrors.

It is, no doubt, by the cunning exploitation of this geometry and physical fact that the victims of the palace were dispatched, by assassins unknown, rather than strangled by their own reflections, as legend has it.

The Labyrinth of the Minotaur, it is said, possessed unusual acoustics. This we read in the excellent "Encouraging Voice of the Labyrinth."

It is said that the "fatherly voice" in the labyrinth is "heard everywhere and at all points equivocally." Further, that the Minotaur could hear everything that happened in the labyrinth equally well, from any distance or position, as though it were occurring in the folds of his ears. This is the unstated reasoning behind the author's claim that time and space did not exist in the labyrinth for the Minotaur, for whom it is completely transparent and intelligible monad. The author then goes on to identify the Minotaur as God, as Mithras, in whose catacombs there is terrible enlightenment, or as Moloch, to whom all children are ultimately sacrificed.

As for the unfortunate children of Thebes, it was said that the sound of their own footsteps or voices were alienated from them, appearing to approach them from behind in a distorted form, perhaps owing to the same sonic dynamics that gave the Minotaur his omniscience. Perhaps further, the victims of the labyrinth were so chased by their own magnified footsteps and panicked voices into delivering themselves into the den of the Minotaur himself.

If so, this perhaps explains how the Minotaur had complete and instantaneous intelligence from every point in the labyrinth: the Minotaur may have occupied some central location to which all the passages of the labyrinth conducted and magnified all sounds.

If any of this is plausible, even possible, it provides a possible context for an explanation of the enigmatic "voice" of the labyrinth. It is the distorted and pitch shifted echoes of the doomed youths themselves as they grope their way to their doom. Both the voice and the encouragement are chimerical.

Its author could certainly not be the Minotaur himself, who is described universally in all accounts as mute.

"Our Life Now" is the title of an artwork noted at the Venice Biennale 2048 for its shockingly high casualty and fatality rate, even at a Biennale where lethal and near lethal artwork were very much in vogue. The labyrinth section of the installation begins with a highly realistic scale replica of a mall shopping arcade in Hong Kong in the late 20th century, whose glitzy twists and turns eventually become those of an Egyptian tomb, which alludes directly to the author's previous collaboration on the retail sarcophagus of Madonna and his still earlier work on the "hidden retail spaces of the dead.” *

This museum quality replica actually holds the mummified body of Norman Mailer, a fact that is only revealed in the following darkened chamber, where viewers are forced to endure a reading from Ancient Evenings read by a Mailer lookalike.

The viewer's only escape from this ordeal is to discover the concealed secret door that leads out of the reading, as the passage by which they entered is slowly filled in with sand during the reading.

The secret passage opens up onto a maze whose walls are virtual advertisements that patrons must negotiate using eyemice or I-GUIs. Revolutionary at the time, this maze of ads is now a staple at tradeshows, air and infospace musems and arcology condo displays. Indeed, the viewers are inclined to believe they have reached the end of the installation as the virtuspace commercials are for the very corporations that sponsored the exhibit.

Instead, the maze itself collapses and the viewers instead find themselves in the very real freezing mud of a trench in Le Mort Homme in 1916. Viewers have no sooner taken positions to view the bleakened craters of the field before them, when sharp whistles announce an incoming enemy assault, in this case, wave after wave of celebrity lookalikes with live historically accurate ammo.

A pitched battle generally ensues between the panicked art going public (which has the advantage of position) and the waves of hardened celebrity imitators, ultimately descending into extremely vicious hand to hand close quarter combat as the celebrities overrun the trench, using such improvised trench combat weapons as sharpened shovels, Grammys, Emmys, Cable ACE Awards and Academy Awards. This is where most casualties occur as the art going public usually has little more than the Biennale schedule and artist's statements to defend itself.

*Very different in its signification than the artist’s Universal Centotaph for Tom and Suri Cruise, Whose Circumference is Everywhere and Whose Center is Nowhere, which consisted of several strains of engineered bacteria carrying various slogans, such as “EXTREME WEALTH BRINGS ITS OWN WOE, WHICH HAS NEITHER SYMPATHY NOR DIGNITY” and “WHOM GODS WOULD DESTROY THEY FIRST GIVE AN INCOMPETENT PUBLICIST” as well as samples from Cruise’s most famous films that can only be played back on the now obsolete 120 BB (gram negative) gPod. ("Pain and Information Aesthetics" NAND, Vol X).

The very undecided and deeply problematic nature of the Labyrinthus Pareidolia on Mars makes its inclusion on this list controversial. Aresologists, exoarcheologists, Marsologists and geologists remain violently divided as to whether the structure is a natural formation, alien artifact, giant facbot printing error, hoax or advertising campaign from the future or symptom of material planetary mental illness. As such they have differing opinions and analyses as to whether the “friezes” “faces” and other depictions of the labyrinth depict Martian mythology or history, attempts at therapy, or “a trailer for the extinction of the human species.”

This leaves aside the perennial controversy over whether or not there is Afterlife on Mars.

Most Marsologists maintain that Mars as a natural phenomenon effectively ceased to exist with the successive printer errors of the Mars Condo Society and that as rogue facbots and frankenweiners have effectively remade the planet, Mars has effectively been not so much terraformed as “anthropomorphized,” and, as such, Aresologists have no actual object of study (Aresology actually being a branch of human and post-human cultural studies). On the whole, Marslogists wish to continue the venerable tradition of empirically based intersubjectively available science and reject the operational premises of Aresology as wholly lacking any intelligible criteria for its purported phenomena or testable hypotheses or statements, being not so much a science as a catalog of pseudo events and quasi experiences.

Aresologists, in turn, cite the catastrophic events, unexplainable data and failure of the missions previous to Mars Condo One as dispositive of the peculiar cybernetic and psychological phenomena of Mars having some indigenous origin and point to the continuing vexing presence of Martians as indicative of phenomena that cannot be accomodated in traditional natural science, no matter how our concepts of space, time, cause and identity are modified, but rather can only begin to be described in a new framework that accepts such paraphenomena as Martian Spiders as "para-phenomenologically pseudo-real abstractions as given reals."

Despite, or rather because of this, there is actually quite a lot of consensus as to the proposed demolition of the labyrinth and any other observable structures on Mars. However, rather than a preemptive strike on Mars in a presumed Earth-Mars War, as some critics have claimed, this is simply to, in the words of one Nobel Prize Laureate “place man back in his proper position as a thinking being and re-enable the regularities that are the conditions of possibility for natural science.”


  1. I think you need to apply for this fellowship, and post your application materials here on naap leuuap.

  2. Thank you, Arthur, that's very thoughtful. I will look into Norman Mailer's Two Fisted Drinking Camp for Kids upon my next bout of nostalgia de la boue.