Time to dust off the old thinking cap and take my first run into the Maze.
I think for this first time, it would be prudent to scour the cover and first few pages to see if there are any perfunctory clues we can find or maybe hints as to the overall nature of Maze.
The copy on the back of the book gives us our first introduction to the guide, and teases us with a couple of possible clues: The word Story above door 20, then once we’re in room 20, half of an arrow pointing into room 27. I think it would be fair to assume that any clues given on the cover are red herrings. If the beguiling nature of the guide isn’t reason enough, there’s always the fact that there is actually a red herring over the entryway on the cover. Using the only page in the book with color on it to give us that clue is cleverly cute.
Of course there can be a couple of things that the red herring may be alluding to. Is it saying that everything on the cover is a red herring? Can we assume that all clues the guide gives us are red herrings? What other connections are there to the red herring?
Also, the door across from the entryway in the first room is open. Is that the edge of a foot poking out the door in the lower right corner? If so, who’s foot is it? The guide’s?
As an aside, each time the word Maze shows up it is capitalized. It appears 4 times on the back cover.
Let’s move on to….
I’m not sure that there are any clues to be had here, or whether it’s just some cool art that was put on this title page. So let’s file the items shown on here away for later use. Maybe we can infer something significant from them as we collect more information later on.
We’ve got a parchment with a maze drawn on it, a square tool, a drawing compass, a pencil (or sharpened chalk), a mallet (or hammer) and a block being used as a paper weight on the parchment. There is also a key on the block, but I’m having a hard time telling whether it’s a key laying on the block, or whether the key is indented into the block, making it some kind of mold. Also, the shape of the block is peculiar, like it may have been a piece of a wheel or a wedge.
The only other thing to note is that as in several rooms, the shadows of the objects are portrayed as if being hit from an angle by a fairly harsh light. Maybe it’s inferring that lighting might be something to pay attention to throughout the book, and not just there for the artistry.
Next we have…
This may be the only page not narrated by the guide. Although it is slim on clues, it does it’s job in introducing us to the main goals of the book that the author intends.
I think that it is fairly safe to assume any directions on this page are truthful and not intentionally misleading.
Like any good maze, the primary goal is to find the shortest route through Maze. As a bonus we are challenged to solve the riddle in the middle. Clues in multiple rooms that have a connection to each other may infer a path. Many clues will refer to specific doors. Anything could be a clue, and some clues may be misleading.
Objects on this page include two pillars with ribbons draped around them holding up a sign labeled Directions. The bordering on the sign looks like rope. There are four hands with pointing index fingers that appear to be carved into the pillars.
I may have accidentally read the Hidden Hint on this page listed on into the abyss. That’s actually a pretty large clue in that there is a recurring pattern throughout the maze where an outstanding clue, one that differs from the others, often leads the correct way through the maze.
Which leads us to…
There are several things that interest me about this page. This is a similar image to the front cover with some differences. There are words replacing the red herring at the top of the doorway that read The Next Page. The door inside Room 1 across from the entryway is now closed and we can see the image of the bottle on it. There is an umbrella leaning against the doorway.
Is the next page a red herring? If so, which parts? Is the text above the doorways in Room 1 a red herring? Just the text above the doorway we can see? Everything in the room? Welcome to Maze… If nothing else, I think it’s safe to say that it’s showing us that clues on different pages can be tied together. There can be a symmetry of clues that moves us through rooms inferring a path.
What is the significance of the Umbrella? It wasn’t there before. In the text, the guide points out that he usually waits inside, and that the sun (at least to him) is very hot. Did he bring the umbrella to shield him from the sun?
The description is rife with references to the guide. So many references that it almost forces us to infer that the identity of the guide is significant. The fact that this emphasis is given to us at the beginning of the maze, might be telling us that if we can figure out who he is, it will help us throughout the maze… or not… Maybe it’s trying to emphasize that if we can determine his identity it will help us interpret his clues, giving us insight as to what he says that we can trust (if any of it).
Like all the other visitors, they think the Maze was made for them. In his next statement is he trying to imply that the visitors were made for the maze? Or that the maze was made for the guide?
Thanks to Google I found that ‘The fire in my eyes’ is in a line of the Maya Angelou poem Phenomenal Woman. Does that line infer that the guide is a woman? The text does make reference to a poet.
Her crown could be referring to the fact that she thinks she’s royalty of some sort, or she could be referring to something distinctive about the top of her head.
I don’t know what pain she’s referring to, or the significance of it.
What does she mean by ‘Which half is the Maze’? Is she referring to the city around the Maze house? Cute.
Words that are capitalized that shouldn’t be: Maze Underworld Maze House (Cerberus is also capitalized, but that is a proper name). MUM CHUM MUCH HUM HUMM Underworld House.
Of course Cerberus was the three-headed ‘worm’ (dragon, monster) guarding the third circle of hell (the Underworld) in Dante’s Inferno. Is the guide implying that she is the guardian of this Underworld House? What does she mean by ‘I am the lesson’? Lost Sheen, He’s Stolen, She Lets On…. meh… Me Hast No Lies? Stole His Name? She Lies to Man?
At this point I should probably mention that I do understand that with all of the mythical references it is hard not to consider the identity of the guide to be a (the) minotaur. The book is called Maze after all. However, I have to think that Manson would come up with something less obvious, but throw enough clues to mislead you into thinking that’s what the guide is. So far the most compelling ‘clue’ pointing to the minotaur theory is actually the line referring to the visitor’s being too distracted to notice her crown. If there were horns on her head, like a minotaur, that would be a significant thing for them to miss.
Another obvious theory is that the guide could be the devil. There is definitely a devil motif that runs throughout the book, and with implications that the guide may be a guardian of the underworld, and is frequently beguiling, those are indicators to back up the devil theory. Also, later on in the book, the guide abandons you to the abyss. Sound devilish? However, just like the minotaur theory, I’m skeptical. It seems too easy.
A third theory is that the guide may be Dracula or some kind of vampire. This theory is mainly supported by the guide’s aversion to sunlight as described above. Also, the reference of her crown may mean something like the widow’s cap that Dracula is commonly portrayed with. Also Dracula is commonly portrayed as royalty. If it is Dracula, then what is so painful, and why is there fire in his eyes? Hmmm…. actually if Dracula was in the sun, it would be painful… but what about the fire in his eyes. And why is he the lesson?
Okay, after some more research, my current theory is that it is Dracula or some other vampire. An excerpt from Dracula:
The last I saw of Count Dracula was his kissing his hand to me, with a red light of triumph in his eyes, and with a smile that Judas in hell might be proud of.
— Jonathan Harker’s Journal, Dracula, Chapter 4
Why does he call it the gate? The gate to the underworld? The gate to Dracula’s castle?
We haven’t even stepped in and already things sound ominous…
The good news is that I haven’t gotten too many clues and spoilers for Maze yet. The bad news is that most of them are for the first few pages of Maze. Especially room 1. So I know that the correct doorway is 26, but I wasn’t really paying too close attention in the podcast as to why that is.
Here is my analysis so far of Room 1.
There are 4 brass doors here leading from left to right to rooms 20, 26, 41, and 21 respectively. The door numbers are all listed in black letters on white rectangles hung right above the doors. The words Story, Fable, Tale and Yarn seem to be painted on the brick above the numbers. Each door has a round, hanging door handle, and has an image displayed in a square in the upper half of each door. From left to right the images are of a drum, a cup, a bottle, and an apple. Harsh light streams through the entryway from outside and falls over the floor, and doors 41 and 21. In the foreground is an easel with a long strip of paper covered in large symbols tacked to it. The shadowed floor under the easel is littered with long, wide strips of paper or parchment with more large symbols covering them. The separate pieces seem to have been torn roughly into their individual strips as if the entirety of the paper on the floor could have come from one long strip. One section is attached to the wall just inside the door, and another is sticking out from underneath door 21. While many of the symbols don’t appear to be alphanumeric, many of the symbols could be construed as being English letters or Arabic numbers.
The words Tale and Yarn are anagrams of Late and Nary.
The shadow of the top of the doorway falls squarely on doors 41 and 21. From the notes I wrote regarding the top of the doorway on the front cover of the book, and then in the prologue, it could be assumed that doors 41 and 21 are a red herring.
The letter of each of the pictures on the doors from left to right are D, C, B, and A, possibly inferring some kind of movement from right to left. ABCD –>.
I could make out the letters A E I O U K L G in the symbols on the parchment. The numbers 0, 1 and 7 could also be construed. All of the vowels are represented. I don’t know if there’s any significance for that.
There is a symbol that is shaped like an arrow on the parchment attached to the easel that seems to be pointing towards door 20.
The parchment hanging on the wall have symbols that could be construed to spell out the word LIKE, or UKE.
Of course there was the reference to door 20 on the cover of the book.
The words Nary, Late, and Story all appear in the text, but the word Fable does not.
The word Decisions appears 3 times.
The guide mentions 3 distinct visitors.
There is a ringing behind one of the doors. The guide says that the silences are as eloquent as the sounds alluding to the fact that the room they need to go into may not be the one with the ringing. Room 20 has a telephone next to the door and says ‘the ringing stopped as soon as we entered.’ The guide may be implying that room 20 is the wrong way.
The third visitor opens a door, and the first visitor peers into the gloom.
Room 21 is outdoors and rooms 20 and 41 seem to be well lit. In the first paragraph of Room 26 the visitors mention that ‘there is not enough light in here.’ Assuming the third visitor opens the door to the correct room, this would imply that he opened the door to 26.
The guide describes the sun as ‘glaring at him’ which backs up the theory of the guide being a vampire.
I think I heard someone calling the odd clue principle being referred to as the ‘odd one in’ principle, and I like that so I’m going to use it. If you use the odd one in, there are many references to rooms 20, 41, and 21 but the only one that I found to room 26 was the implication that it was the door being opened by the third visitor.
Hrmm. Although the number 3 comes up a couple of times in the analysis above and C is the third letter of the alphabet. And the image on door 26 is Cup. Which starts with C.
The only letters in the text that are capitalized incorrectly are a couple of references to the word Maze, which follows the pattern started in the prologue. Maze shows up twice on this page.
Exit Choice: Room 26
Okay, the first room that I have to make my own decision on. Unfortunately I’m not picking up many clues here.
I’m assuming there is an anagram that has to do with the devil opening the trapdoors on the stage. The final one on the right is holding up a letter A and there is an S on the salt shaker, so I tried anagrams for the following, but couldn’t come up with anything:
Open Devil A
Opening Devil A
Open Devil AS
Opening Devil AS
Reveal Devil A
Reveal Devil AS
There is a bell laying on the floor. The guide says tone.
17 notches on the stage. 16 chairs. 2 grumpy looking men. Saturn, the Moon.
Um… there are devils pointing to rooms 36 and 38, and we came through room 1, so… room 30… sure, why not?
Exit Choice: Room 30
Progress So Far: