In the end, perhaps these dreams remain while others slip away because of their nearness to waking life. Inside the Labyrinth reality retreats, but never farther than the play is from backstage. The dividing line is only morning fog, the way out as near as opening your eyes and blinking away the dream. Somewhere along the line I fell through the curtains just so as to leave them disturbed, and when the right light falls upon the right nook the dream beckons again.
Here ends Entrances to the Labyrinth I: The Mills. There will be a part II later this summer, and possibly studies and/or rejects to show up occasionally as filler. For now, back to regular blogging.
My dreams of the Labyrinth do not generally come with a white rabbit to lead the way, but the impossible spaces of our collective dreams draw more heavily on Lewis Carroll than Victor Hugo or Neil Gaiman. So much so that in modern colloquy the rabbit hole is the standard metaphor for an Entrance to the Labyrinth. Here among the rust and blasted rubble the rabbit is not here to lead you to a Wonderland. Under a gray sky there are rabbit holes all around, the Labyrinth beckons from every corner. You're standing in a rabbit hole right now; it's the other side that forever melts away just out of reach.
The rooftop of a skyscraper catches the attention because you can't get to it. The rusting industrial rooftop isn't nearly so eye-catching, but bathes in the allure of the forgotten expanse. The Labyrinth is, among so many other things, the least obvious way to get from point A to point Q. How many miles could you walk without ever touching the ground, if you only knew the way? Inside the Labyrinth, I imagine that all the rooftops in the world are meanderingly connected.
In the dream about the stairs in the attic, a dozen floors existed within the eaves of a peaked roof, and when I had reached the very top I stumbled through a hidden door into a ground-floor closet. The geometry of the Labyrinth does not generally abide by the Euclidean measures of the waking world, in either time or space. While sometimes it is the impossibly corrugated space packed into a warren of walls, at others a vast expanse is revealed in a glance by a particular quality of light, then like the woman in the window evaporates when you recognize the component parts.
I suspect that is why Alice's first finds underground were, conveniently enough, drugs that strip the senses of all sense of scale.
In one of my dreams about the Labyrinth, there is a theater in the top floor of my dorm, luxuriantly swathed in black. When instead of entering the theater I push aside the curtains at the end of the hallway I pass backstage into a riot of boxes and abandoned furniture. By navigating through here I arrive in the Labyrinth proper, and climb through a dozen stories or more of attic. Sometimes the stairs leap straight ahead, a rickety span across unfathomable dark chasms, while elsewhere they twist vertiginously and pass through forgotten chambers at odd angles. Where the stairs end I can clamber among great timber rafters where they join in a sharply peaked roof.
This dream was so vivid that when I awoke I was compelled to find photographs of the building and remind myself that there is no top-floor theater, that the attic, spacious and eerie though it is, cannot contain a dozen floors of anything. Even counting just the spaces that clearly do exist, our urban environment contains vastly more space than an open field where we have built upwards and colonized the sky. The rabbit holes do not just extend below ground; sometimes you have to ascend.
Here's a question: how much can hide in the corner of your eye? Worlds, actually, as any stargazer will tell you, recalling the comets, stars, and whole galaxies she has seen only in averted vision, finding that they slipped back into velvet invisibility when looked at straight on. The bird will flee if you walk directly towards it, just like the dream that dissolves into impressions as you race to commit it to words. In our cities dreams have been accumulating in the dusty corners while attention blazed against the gleaming and the manicured. If you don't look too hard the blank wall of the dead end turns aside to allow entry to the Labyrinth just out of sight.
Living on a neo-Gothic campus in Chicago such corners were everywhere, and it was while steeped in such spaces that the Labyrinth first began to twine through my dreams. Now I live in Minnesota, but the dreams persist, and in Entrances to the Labyrinth I will explore the very real places in Minneapolis that exude the haunting, forgotten, or incongrous nature that remind the alert passerby of the dreams hidden in the corner of his eye. One doesn't seek them out, nor travel long distances to find them, and the photos of series one (The Mills) and two (to follow) were taken within a ten-minute walk of my house. Follow along as I suggest, if not truly capture, the vast domains tucked into a few square blocks of city.
In one sense the everyday world is the negative space of the Labyrinth, the vase between lips about to touch, the places that clearly do exist wedged in amongst the far larger spaces that should not or can not exist. The incongruous, the abandoned, the forgotten passageways are natural access points. For whom is a door intended that opens into a dizzying empty expanse? For what the boarded door into the earth, guarded by the illusion of fangs?
It's rare enough that I remember my dreams, but I do have at least one that recurs and reliably lodges in my memory. More or less. There's no particular plot, and the setting varies in ways subtle and outright, but the atmosphere and valence persists, like different scenes from the same film. With the innate knowing peculiar to dreams, it is always clear that the place is the same. In waking life most familiar to urban explorers and parkour acrobats, it's the hidden geometry of the mundane world, the places concealed in the corner of your eye or behind forgotten doors.
In the dream, it is called the Labyrinth.
This is the first entry of a photo series titled Entrances to the Labyrinth.