In the winter of 1982 I was truly worried I had lost myself. It's upsetting to be estranged from your own reflection, your cognitions, your emotions. I remember spending most of November floating somewhere a few inches above what I had once consider myself, behind a haze, a shield. But, little did I know, this severing, this extraction, if you will, was actually an awakening.My therapist, well, Andy, my friend, the therapist, not mine to any capacity, he used to always talk about existential crisis and that it can be a moment of fraying (psychosis) or a moment of clarification (epiphany), it's all about integration of the experience. Those that can install the experience into their existing internal schema or, perhaps, can rewrite that mapping, they are transformed through their trials. But for those that fail to integrate it, the crisis lingers like a tumor, festering, unresolved and, often, growing. It becomes a part of the organism, but never fully links with the system. I suppose it's a memetic that shares resources, a sort of cognitive parasite. So, as I experienced my own crisis, I realized that the only answer was to integrate. The challenge is not knowing to integrate the experience, it's realizing how.I suppose the first step is identifying what precisely is happening. At first, I was certain my mind was unraveling or unraveled already. Identification is complicated when your perception is under scrutiny. It's sort of like trying to row upstream while building a boat that you don't have the blueprint for. Or expressing an idea in metaphors, none of which you have actually experienced. Regardless, whatever the reason, I was upstream, no paddle, no boat, no blueprint.The night it happened is pristine in my mind. I was at the Suit. Or maybe I was at the Dragon? I know I was at the Suit at some point, I'm just not crystal on whether that was all night or not. But, I digress. There was a location and I was there, drinking and interacting with my friends when it first appeared. There was a small arcade in the back of the bar where we used to hang out, nothing incredible, just a few boxes. Enough to drop a few dollars on. Ace, Spark and Pewter were all out dancing, so it was just me and Tassel standing at one of the tall tables, occupying the space of a void where conversation usually happened. She was upset. But, she was always upset. Whether it was where we were, what we were doing, what I was wearing, who I was talking to, what we were eating, it really didn't matter. She wore upset like a shade of lipstick. Or maybe her little black dress.So, predictably, she was unimpressed with the little wooden box Larry set between us on the table. He didn't offer any explanation, just left the box, said 'Newest addition to the arcade and walked back to the kitchen. At first I was too preoccupied with Tassel to give any thought to the box, but then the strangeness struck me. This was a digital arcade, full of electronic games. But this new box, he hadn't plugged it in. He didn't need to.Sitting on the table was this intricate, yet simple box. I mean, it was just a box, but it was absolutely ornate. Dragons and samurai and all sorts of Asian letter-symbols covered the outside of the box. The wood was a little beat and faded. I remember it smelling like chemicals. Not sure which ones, just those chemicals that smell particularly pungent. Not, like, cleaning supplies. More like strippers and acids. Maybe some varnish. It smelled like someone had gone to immense trouble to preserve the state of this box. They just, maybe, tried a few years too late. So now I stood at the Milton with this oddball container that was forcefully suspended in a silvering state, with no instructions or idea what it was. And I did what anyone does when faced with a box: I opened it. The top lifted from the rest, revealing a labyrinth within. Nothing tremendously complex. A few dead ends and false leads, but it seemed approachable. The whole thing was covered with glass, but for a little trapdoor, about the diameter of a dime. It was snapped shut, covered by a little chip of wood.Returning my attention to the cover, I noticed three little teeth that meshed with the body of the labyrinth, securing it in place and, more significantly, opening the trapdoor. It only took me moments to realize that if there was a trapdoor like this there must be-And I discovered a satin satchel of chrome ball bearings, each small enough to fit through the door. I pulled one of the small orbs from the bag and dropped it into the maze. It made a satisfying clattering as it hit against the wood of the sides of the box and the floor of the maze. Looking at the box, there was no obvious means of moving the ball through the maze, so I lifted the box off the table. I listened carefully as the ball rolled through the maze, hitting walls, giving me audible and vibratory indication of roughly where it was. Eventually there was an unpleasant clatter and the ball emerged from the bottom of the box. I had hit one of the traps in the maze.I lifted the lid off and took a good look at the architecture. What I saw was a fairly ordinary, multicursal maze. I counted 9 branches, each with 5 sub-branches. Admittedly, it was a complex maze to trace, without considering doing it blind and with traps included. But, I traced the singular path to the exit and traced it again. I traced it about 9 times before I felt that I remembered it well enough to make an attempt at.Sealing the lid back into place, I placed the ball through the trap door and there it disappeared. It wasn't long before the ball dropped through the floor again and I had to start over. I proceeded to try again and again and again. It didn't seem like I was getting any better and so I lifted the lid off once again and again and again. Nothing was working. I would retrace the path, marks appearing in the glass from my fingernails. 9 the branches, 5 their children, each and one the true path. This remained true each time I would look, but I was becoming so dizzied by this labyrinth that I felt I couldn't take anything else for granted.It was about this time that the design of the maze pressed on my mind. Not just the design of this maze, but every maze. Why did they exist? What was the purpose of this invention? And, therefore, what was the purpose for my seeking a solution? What did I really stand to gain from conquering the maze?According to Pliny the Elder there were four initial mazes of historical note: The Egyptian, The Cretan, The Lemnian and The Italian. All were associated with royalty and all seemed to be tombal in purpose. But ordinary tombs, 6 feet deep by 10 feet long by 3 feet wide, seem to serve the appropriate purpose of preserving the dead, so, I don't think that funerary intentions are enough to justify the existence of the maze.One might propose that outsmarting the entrant is a credible reason for mazes to exist, but sophisticated locks seem adequate at that. Not that there are any lock systems that cannot be hacked, but rather, that the maze takes up a massive resource of time, material and space. If the purpose was to keep out the riff-raff, those same resources could surely be used to create a lock of tremendous sophistication and a regular guard to monitor that lock.I was speaking with my friend, gNash 'The g Is Silent' Swillow on the matter a few nights later while slaving over some sketches. He noted, while not true of all four historical mazes, the Egyptian and Cretan maze both held beasts.Did it ever occur to you that the maze was not to keep people out, but to keep something in? he proposed over another hit of marijuana and a cough. Maybe the minotaur was being held within the maze. I mean, it'd suck if he got out, yeah? And why would the minotaur stay there of it's own will?At the time, the notion was preposterous to me.gNash... the Minotaur was employed by the king and fed with 14 human sacrifices, virgins, no less, every 9 years! Sounds like a pretty sweet deal to me.You'd seriously work on an annual salary of less than 2 human sacrifices? Not to mention if you had the appetite of a bull and a man! You really think you could ration 14 humans for 9 years? Nah, man. The minotaur didn't know the way out, gNash sat on the floor, looking at my drawings, all of various mazes, mostly from memory.Wait, you think the minotaur ate the sacrifices? I looked up from my sketchbook, gNash watching me and finally nodding.Of course, what else would the minotaur do with human sacrifice?I always figured he just had other food, ate... hay or something. Don't you think he'd... like, y'know... fuck them? Wasn't that why he got 14 virgins? I proposed.What the fuck!? Ugh. No way, man! he shook his head, incredulous to the idea.And why the hell not? I mean, it's gotta be lonely in there and-Dude, I'm not talking about this. That's fucking dark, man. The minotaur gored them and ate them, end of story.I sighed, setting my paper aside and picking up my beer. So you think that it's impossible that the Minotaur might have had needs other than hunger and you also think it's impossible that the Minotaur stayed there by its own will? Why wouldn't the Cretans have just bought a big ol' cage to store the Minotaur? Why the architecture? Why waste the space and the time to build a maze?gNash never resolved any of my questions that night, just shrugged and laid back, staring at the ceiling. I still wasn't convinced that the Cretan Maze was built to house the Minotaur, to keep it locked away from the world. But, I couldn't get it out of my head that maybe the maze was completely different than what it seemed. Being an entrant, it seems that the maze is to be solved. There is either an escape or a goal. Either way, there is a destination and obstacles. But, perhaps what I was exploring by looking at the history and existence of the maze was to find what it was to create a maze.I returned to the bar the following weekend and took a look at the box. It appeared that no one else had touched the thing. Dust had collected in the few weeks since I'd been there, so I cleared it off, tossed my sketchbook up on the table and pulled the lid off.Again, I stared down the paths, but this time I sketched what I saw. At first I traced the paths, one-to-one. Then I drew what I saw, not making a precise facsimile, but doing my best copy at a distance. Once I had a few sketches that I felt confident with, I drew from memory. I hid all of my previous sketches underneath the maze and covered the maze, drawing what I could without these tools. The 11 sketches of ascending clarity were what comprised my book A Perplexing Palace. By the final sketch, I had something that felt like the labyrinth to me. It was in that moment that I was tempted to measure my projection against the actual maze, but I realized this was not the point of this exercise.By this point the bar has picked up a bit. The sun had gone down, so it must have been some time after 7, meaning I'd already been there for 3 hours. The dance floor was flooded with bodies, the music louder now than when I arrived. Conversations flurried around me, a miasma of language and laughter filling the bar. I sat back at my stool, closing my eyes and internalizing my impression of the maze amongst the noise. I imagined the corridors engulfing me, my experience navigating the maze, remembering which paths led home. Opening my eyes, I sealed the lid onto the maze and set the ball bearing into the box, the satisfying clack of metal against wood echoing in the hollow cage. Lifting the box, I tilted it to and fro, eyes locked shut, to imagine the ball in space. As I turned the third left, into the second depth branch, there was a dissatisfying clattering into the base of the labyrinth and a moment later the ball dropped out onto the table. Disappointment struck me, but I kept with it, returned the ball into its trapdoor and continuing.At the second right, just beyond where I'd fallen before, the ball clattered free from the maze, slipping out onto the table once more. I retrieved the orb and stripped the top off the box, expecting that something must have changed.I repeated the process, starting with the tracing, then the sketches from sight and finally the projections. My traces aligned perfectly with the ones I made in the previous run, my sketches aligned and my projections even matched. And so, I closed my eyes again, taking a deep breath and imagining the paths once more.... but if you really consider it, he probably didn't even talk to her, y'know?... ... go? I thought they'd stick around a little longer...... let her live it down! I can't even believe she'd try that pull that...Every time I closed my eyes, the voices would align around me so that a single voice would emerge above the cloud, just long enough for a packet of meaning to appear, only to be erased by the next moment's tangibility. I opened my eyes, cleared my throat and tried again, rolling the ball in my fingertips. I repeated a new mantra that appear to me:I am the ballOver and over again. In my present state, I realize that crisis was brimming over in this moment, claiming me. I was drowning. It seemed to me that the drowning was purveyed by the froth of social noise that had foamed up in such a thick body that I couldn't even think straight. But, in the throes of madness, I protected some small part of myself by repeating I am the ball as though it would cleanse me of my sins. I closed my eyes again, sufficiently tethered to the ball. As I constructed a visage for my mind's eye, I imagined what it would be to be encased in the grasp of massive fingers, nearly as wide as myself, and many times longer. I felt myself carried to the trapdoor. My firm body clattered against the uninviting wood of the inside of the labyrinth. I could not see but a few paces in front of myself. I remember the difficulty of mobility in this state. I still wasn't used to rolling as my primary mode of traversal. After all, I'd spent my entire leg hoisted on two legs, it just seemed too intuitive to move with a stride, but, I did my best, leaning my weight beyond the my equilibrium and rolling forward. Initiating movement was a dream when compared to halting it. Bipedal movement, even at fair velocity, is not too difficult to stop, provided you have the proper traction. Traction available, however, as a ball, does not make a salient difference in stopping power. I would reverse my center of gravity back the other way with as much force as I could provide. Even with this effort, I did not come to an immediate, or even quick, stop and I had to be careful not to cause myself to simply roll back the other way. The first few traps definitely gave me trouble, but by the time I arrived at the second sub-branch, I had my balance a little better. ...head out? I have some leftovers in the fridge....that much to drink! I swear, I'll be fine!...compared to his earlier work. I mean, the 90's just weren't a great time for his... My vision fizzled, static interrupting my concentration as voices invaded my consciousness. I slowly felt my hands, grasping the box, my feet standing beneath me. I realized that I hadn't been breathing, my head spinning. I took a seat, setting the box down. I didn't make any further attempts that night, but I found myself transformed. No. I was not the ball. But it had unlocked a perspective in me. It wasn't the outcome I was asking for, the revelation that I thought I had been seeking, but it was an answer.Migong is the chinese word for labyrinth and, from what I have read, means a perplexing palace. A palace. A residence of sacred accord. The labyrinth is not a passageway, a journey. The labyrinth is the destination. The labyrinth requires only three things: An Entryway, Paths and an Escape or Exit. Without an Entryway, the labyrinth is a closed network. Without paths, the labyrinth is merely a doorway. If the labyrinth has an Entryway, which we have established as necessary, the labyrinth has an Escape, it just may have to be back the way you came. This necessity of features, I believe, has given us all a false sense of the labyrinth. It seems as though the paths and chambers within are challenges, steps in some Campbellian journey. If this is the case, the architecture of a labyrinth is one of violence, seeking to overpower the entrant with its wit. The entrant can prove his might only by overcoming the obstacles in the maze. The Minotaur. This is not how I see it.That night I could no longer see the labyrinth as adversary. The labyrinth and its architect were leading me, not through the maze, but into it, coaxing me into its complex architecture so that I may get lost. Yes. I was not seeking to 'find my way', to conquer the genius of the builder through might of navigation. I was being invited to get lost. Being lost was not some negative epiphenomenon of the maze, it was the point. But what the activity of being lost was going to reveal was still opaque to me.It was that night that I set about constructing what would become the First Palace, a system very similar to the Labyrinth Box. The First Palace was arcane and got me nowhere near what I hoped to discover. For now I will spare you the details of that Palace and only mention that it was a failure because it was so good at losing the ball within, that I was unable to adequately tether myself to the ball to lose myself. I ditched the switch system when I constructed the Second Palace, moving instead to a system of shifting rooms, walls that could slide with a similar mechanism to a foosball table. This architecture was more useless than the first.For a long time, or what felt like a long time, it felt like, or perhaps it was a useless endeavor. For months I set about the construction of various Palaces before I happened upon my perfect balance. It was Palace #8 when I struck an architecture that merged the obfuscation of the labyrinth, with a light tethering system that allowed me to maintain my relationship with the ball. This palace was 17 x 17 x 9 and consisted of a networks of unmeshed gears. Along each column and row was a series of keys that could pushed or pulled to rotate the series of gears in that row or column. Doing so would move the ball and flip a series of doors in the vicinity of the rotating gear(s). Each door was painted black on one side, the wood color exposed on the opposite side. This mechanism provided me with enough of an approximation to be mindful of the ball, but not such a tight location that I was unable to lose it. The first night after finished Palace #8, I proceeded through the Tethering Process, carrying my chrome carapace to the trapdoor. The outermost interior walls of this Palace were padded with a half inch of cotton, wrapped in green felt. This made the box fairly sound proof to the exterior and quiet from within. Normally, when I would Tether, I would close my eyes, freeing my sense of sight to occupy my projection of being the ball, but with this experiment, I watched the doors as they flipped and alternated, giving me a general sense of the ball. I proceeded on, pulling keys and watching the ball in my minds eye for about 10 minutes when I suddenly felt something challenging and complicating. I ceased. Like a snap of thunder, rushing to fill a void left by cooked air, perspective snapped back against me, nearly erasing the void I'd just... witnessed? My heart raced as I picked myself up off the floor, nerves trembling with synaptic overwhelm. I found my way into the chair after bringing it back to its feet. I lifted the lid off the Palace, finding the ball resting in the northwest corner. I retethered and tried again. Another 10 minutes and I experienced a greater backlash, toppling me off my chair again. It was after the third attempt that I broke through. Suspended. I felt the movement of hands that were not mine, manipulating keys that were not mine, locking with gears that were not me. Doors flipped and somewhere the ball moved, but I was no longer the ball. I was something else entirely. It was as though I was a perspective without a body, nowhere and, yet, somewhere all too specific.That night I realized that my Psychological Crisis was a labyrinth. It appears like a problem to be worked through, to be solved, but it's not so simple. The walls of the Labyrinth are not grand obstacles of a master architect, they are the old shape of things, fold in your brain that no longer serve a purpose for you. The Labyrinth, at best, can be a great hypnosis, creating a mist of confusion. Dr. Milton Erickson was of the belief that few things capture the mind quite like confusion. But not just confusion, there is an articulate confusion, a sort of Wernicke Aphasia where syntax dwells but meaning is hollow. Algorithms without content. And this is where discovery happens. When the components become shells, we can fill them with new meaning, new direction and reevaluate the equations they build.The reason crisis swallows some is that some are not capable of this non-direction, this non-location. To enter the Labyrinth with the intention of 'solving' it leaves you with only two outcomes: You solve it or you don't. However, to approach the Labyrinth as a Palace, a sacred domicile of rich discovery, you lose the objective but gain an opportunity for renewal, dismantling and restructuring old metaphor into something more habitable.It was the Spring of '84 that found me standing in a train station on my way to Prague. I'd published The Perplexing Palace and toured my Foreigner's Arcade in the states. I was conversing with gNash as we waited for the 5:20. But wasn't the Minotaur, like, Minos' son? Didn't he stay because he was the son? he remarked, flicking his cigarette beneath his boot and stamping it out, the last flumes of smoke evaporating above his head.It depends on which myth you're reading. It was probably some bull that Minos hallucinated as his son, no part man at all really.gNash coughed and shook his head, So the Minotaur was really Minos' grief? It was his inability to let go of the loss of his son and his perpetual need to punish some metaphor for those that he blamed?I nodded, And remember, Theseus had to escape the Labyrinth the way he came. The Labyrinth of Crete was built without an exit.