The maze isn't for you — except when it is: 09/19/17
The title comes from what the girl in pueblo tells the Man in Black when he demands instructions to the center of the game in Westworld (season 1, episode 2, "Chestnut"). The second half of the title is my commentary on the idea of the labyrinth — usually the one of the Minotaur story being co-opted for a meta-fiction road narrative. In stories where one is unable to travel because of remoteness or where travelers arrive in remote or uncharted villages, the labyrinth — and the one who can navigate it — is used as a motif to show the process of either escape or invasion.
When I restarted the road narrative project, I began at what I thought was the beginning — with the invention of the automobile. With the automobile comes the road trip. I collected as many early memoirs of crossing the North American continent and took copious notes. I read through as many early accounts of road design and the bureaucracies behind them.
As I read and as questions popped into my head, I started jotting them down in OmniGraffle, drawing lines connecting things like pins and strings and papers in a conspiracy theorist's den. Out of that mess arose something resembling a spiderweb or a multi-dimensional labyrinth. I wish I could say it was the shape there that made me see where my research needed to go. But it didn't.
In April 2016, after reading The Bone Gap, I wrote "The Road Not Taken" article, my first proto-crossing-the-cornfield essay. I was still looking at road narratives — all road narratives — as being written in and unfolding in a geographic space. The real-world place would affect the narrative flow in predictable ways. To know the place was to know the narrative. It was a blind and epistemologically driven thesis that didn't take into account meta fiction or utopic or uhoral places.
Then came Lowriders to the Center of the Earth which got me to thinking about road narratives and the road not taken in an entire different perspective. Since then I have been focusing more and more on the road not taken / crossing the cornfield types or road narrative. I have also been able to identify archetypal characters and map their types of journeys against a spectrum of subgenres.
What I've found is, there is unmapped land in these, oft-times, horror genres of the road narrative. Despite the lack of research (though I am still looking), authors have been using similar tropes and motifs to tell their stories that it's possible to do narrative deconstructions based on the characters, tropes, and motifs used — even in the shortest forms of fiction, such as the children's picture book.
While I do still have early research notes to transcribe, moving forward, I plan to focus on these crossing the cornfield stories. They come in two forms: incarcerated in, and escaping from, the cornfield. Essentially: is the cornfield, an impenetrable fortress (such as in Black Hammer and "It's a Good Life") or can it be crossed and escaped from (as in The Magic Cornfield and Bone Gap)?
Below is a time line by articles i've written about the research process and progress.