Sunday, November 25, 2012

A Pair of Mazes for You

The notion of labyrinths traces back to ancient mythology, but recurs throughout history. In essence, a labyrinth is a maze, a puzzle, a complicated route that leads to, or conceals, something.

Many writers have made reference to labyrinths in their work. Jorge Luis Borges was fascinated by the idea of labyrinths, which appear repeatedly in his short stories. Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose was inspired by Borges in this fascination.

From ancient and medieval times to the present, labyrinths have had their appeal, as real structures to be built or as an idea. The mind itself is said to be a labyrinth. Numerous characters in literature, from Cervantes' Don Quixote onward, have become lost in the labyrinthine worlds of their imaginations.

One of Andre Gide's most fascinating works is his story Theseus, about the Athenian hero who navigated the labyrinth in Crete to slay the half-man, half-bull Minotaur aided by Ariadne's thread. It is an entertaining read, with unexpected twists, and comes with my highest recommendation.

Of course my first encounter with the Internet was somewhat akin to the notion of a labyrinth. If one considers each page a room, from which one must exit to enter another room, you can imagine the whole world wide web as a labyrinthine universe. You can lose yourself in it forever.

Based on this concept I created a small html-labyrinth when I built my personal website seventeen years ago. The Entrance is at the bottom of the page.

A question for you: If the Internet is a Labyrinth, then where is the Minotaur?

Finally, here below is a Maze that I drew this weekend as we sat around drawing together as a family. I must have spent hundreds of hours drawing mazes like this in my youth. It’s not as much fun though if you can’t get others to play the game… so take a minute to download this image and print it. Begin at the word START and see if you can reach the Red Dot at the END. Enjoy!

Download JPEG of maze, then Print.

EdNote: Except for the last paragraph and some minor editing along the way, this blog entry is a re-post of my blog entry of January 8, 2008. The maze is new.

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