Follow This Thread


  • Media: #Books #Books 2020
    • Author: Henry Eliot
    • Status: #read
    • Date: September 25th, 2020
    • Tags: #nonfiction #labyrinth #maze #booklayout #bookdesign #pretty
    • Rating: ★★★★☆
    • Idea richness: ★★★★★
    • Links: Goodreads


Follow This Thread (quite literally) through a history of labyrinths, twisting and turning the book to explore the origins, mythology, advances, examples, and psychology of humanity's labyrinth obsession.


Physical interactions

  • The design of the book is brilliant, with the Adrinae's red thread creating the illustrations and leading you through the text, prompting you to twist and rotate the book upside down and beyond.
  • Brilliant marriage of design and content to tell the story and transform the book into the twists and turns of a maze. I love how it requires no 'add-ons', instead it forces you to interact with a familiar medium in a new way.
  • Reminded me somewhat of [[!Device 6]] and it's text driven map layout that forces you to rotate your phone.

Labyrinths vs mazes

"A maze requires no minotaur, it is its own minotaur." - On Mazes - Umberto Eco

  • The difference between labyrinths and mazes, mainly labyrinths being a single path with no choices vs a maze with many choices, were addressed but outside of the historical portions the main focus was on the disambiguation (with an emphasis on mazes).
  • Labyrinths and Mazes are "two sides of the same coin": you take a labyrinthine path through a maze.

Maze varieties & associations

"There's no need to build a labyrinth when the entire universe is one." - On Labyrinths - Jorge Luis Borges

  • A reoccurring thread was the search for Greg Bright, a.k.a. The Maze King. The many new Maze design principles he invented are fascinating. Wonder how they might apply for thinking about level design or system design?
  • [[Maze#Mazes and labyrinths can be many things|Mazes can be many things]] but reoccurring themes seem to be mazes/labyrinths as proving grounds, traps, death, tombs, insanity, and ultimately life.
  • The author touched upon Mazes as a game, suggesting that mazes are a staple of video games (our all level designs by extension a kind of maze?). Would be interested to explore this more, especially in contrast to the mainly negative associations above.
    • Perhaps part of the idea of Maze as a conversation between the designer and the navigator? Depending on the stakes set out, this can be a playful game (like a game master setting up a challenge for players in an RPG) or a deadly quest (like Theseus in a way challenging fate/death in the mythical labyrinth).

Labyrinth origins & symbology

  • Interesting that the unicursal (single path) labyrinth pattern is so ancient and widespread. The 7 circuit or 'Cretan' (from Cretan coins) is the classic design appearing perhaps as early as the late Stone age (according to Wikipedia).
  • Once you start looking for labyrinths, you start seeing them everywhere. Especially, for me, in nature such as spider webs, bark, algae, leaves, fingerprints, etc. Wonder if there could be a connection and why the labyrinth crops up? I tried collecting a string of labyrinthine designs here to see what came up.

Mazes & freedom

In our choices lies our fate." - Pan's Labyrinth

  • Almost as an extension of The mind as a maze, the author links mazes (which rose to prominence around 600 years ago) to the rise of ideas of freewill during the Renaissance. By contrast, the unicursal (single path) labyrinth pattern is ancient and widespread, along with notions of fate.
  • Interesting duality of freedom vs restrictions as in a maze you are simultaneously free to choose while being constricted to the paths that are presented.
    • This takes on a whole new level once you add in [[!Thinking outside the box]]. Theseus cheated the iconic minotaur maze with Ariadne's thread. Or for a more modern example: my mom standing on my brother's shoulders to plot a way out of Longleat maze.
  • In that way, Paths simultaneously grant and restrict access. Makes me think of issues around digital 'paths' like being listed vs unlisted on Google's search engine.
  • Freedom can also be employed as a weapon in Mazes. Mirror mazes confuse with illusions of limitless freedom rather than barriers.

"To keep anyone in the labyrinth, the best thing was to ensure, not so much that he would not be able to leave [...] but that he would not wish to leave." - On labyrinth prisoners - Andre Gidi Thesee

Topics to Pursue

  • Particular Books, a Penguin Books imprint
  • The Maze Maker by Michael Ayrton #bookList
  • Person: The Maze King: Greg Bright
  • Alan Fletcher tile mazes on Victoria Line platform for completion while wating for train.
  • Mark Wallinger labyrinth on the London underground
  • OULIPO - Studio for potential literature.
    • People: Georges Perec and Raymond Queneau
  • Hole Mazes by Greg Bright #bookList
  • Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco #bookList
  • Through the labyrinth by Hermann Kerr #bookList (DEAR LORD, I want this book and it is always 100s of £££)
  • Caerdroia journal by Jeff Saward
  • White Goddess by Robert Graves #bookList
  • Maze design and visitor experience company: Minotaur Designs / Alan Fletcher Mazes Ltd
  • World Wide Labyrinth Project
  • Greg Bright Ghost Teleport Mazes

Scrapbook Concepts

  • Stone labyrinths on shores in Iceland used as supernatural decoys. Lure evil spirits and trap them while you fish. #locations
  • Longleat gardeners on stilts to navigate maze. #characters #locations
  • The Spiral Castle (Caer Sidi) - The abode of the dead in Welsh legend #locations
  • 'Pattern stone' to trace maze tomb key
  • Crocodopilopolis - Egyptian City of Crocodiles. Labyrinth with tombs of holy mummified crocodiles below ground #locations