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FFCC99: FF99CC and FF9999: orphans in the wildlands by maze and labyrinth
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FF99CC and FF9999: orphans in the wildlands by maze and labyrinth: 11/01/18

FF99CC and FF9999: orphans in the wildlands by maze and labyrinth

Today's essay will be a hypothetical discussion of two adjacent narratives in the road narrative spectrum. Both involve an orphan or lone traveler in the wildlands, or en route to the wildlands, via a maze or a labyrinth. While maze and labyrinth can be used to mean the same thing, Kat Yeh in The Way to Bea made a compelling argument as to why they shouldn't, especially in the context of the road narrative.

I place the maze higher than the labyrinth on the "road" axis because it is more dangerous. If not dangerous, it is trickier. It has blind alleys, traps, places unknown, meant to slow down the traveler. The labyrinth is a path in and the same path out. There may be obstacles but they are on the path and are there to better the traveler through self reflection.

The labyrinth is often drawn as a symbolic brain. Looking at the character progression of Dolores Abernathy in season one of Westworld, we see the brain as labyrinth. Now in her case, it's also programming as labyrinth, in that she is made made. The "maze" that is referred to throughout the season is shown to be a drawing of a simplified brain. At the end of the season it's revealed that Dolores has managed to transcend her programming so that she can listen to her own voice in her head — ie, true sentience. Looking just at Dolores's arc, then, would count as the secondary type: FF9999 or orphan, wildlands and labyrinth.

Replace the labyrinth with a maze and you get a lone traveler who needs to either get to the wildlands or escape the wildlands by way of a tricky, trap filled route filled with blind alleys. The maze could be part of the landscape: say a series of caverns, a complex canyon, or a literal maze. One possible story could involve a character waking up inside a maze and not knowing how they got there. The process of navigating the maze brings them to the realization that they last remember crashing their car out in the middle of nowhere and now perhaps they are in a coma or even dead. If they can escape the maze they can wake up or escape death. They could also be a prisoner kept in a complex prison in the middle of nowhere. No one has managed to escape, as far as they know, but they're going to be different and pull it off.

The point is, the labyrinth in the wilderness is a more straightforward path than the maze is. That's not to say that the labyrinth is easy; it may still require dozens of attempts. The maze though, comes with larger consequences: permanent loss, death, entrapment, and so forth.

If you have any novels or movies that fit either of these narratives, let me know what they are in the comments.

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