ISSUE 1/ April 2021


The lunar sun in the labyrinth

the Palace of learning

by Aftermath laika

In the Maker, —a book of conjectures, plots and labyrinths—, Borges rehearses a disturbing notion about the existence of time. The story of the Emperor and his palace is shocking: a poet reads his work in front of the Sovereign, portrays his palace, the materiality between its shadows and details; quote by word and memory. The Emperor is moved: he believes that the poet has taken the palace from him and orders him to be killed immediately.

Credits: Texts, Design and Illustration Aftermath Laika® / Buenos Aires 2021

En The maker, —A book of conjectures, plots and labyrinths—, Borges constructs by means of brief essays a disturbing notion about the existence of time. The story of the Emperor and his palace is shocking: a poet reads his work in front of the Sovereign. The text portrays his palace, the materiality, the lights, the shadows and the details; the vicissitudes of his dynasty through words and memory. The text, still lost forever, could consist of a single word. The Emperor is moved: he believes that the poet has taken the palace from him and orders him to be killed immediately.  

At that point, the palace disappears: «EIn the world there can be no two things the same» Borges writes.  

The initial condition of a maze is to get lost. The second is a rule: find your way out. The game is fascinating. Perhaps the only drawback can be found in the eventual ease of the mechanism, in its discovery, if any, and putting an end to the fun.  

A video game proposes this characteristic among so many questions. The entire map of the space directs the player to make decisions, but not all options show an ideal path, when in fact it is up to the player's expertise to find a way around the inconveniences. But the maze itself is not exactly a game in the terms we know. That is to say, win or lose. Leaving the node, untying the knot, breaking the bag and breathing implies a conjuncture greater than the reward of life. The risk itself, whether there is life or not.  

But the question of the labyrinth does not necessarily refer to a two-dimensional layout. We cannot understand the very question of its physics as if it were a flat dimension; Euclidean. The labyrinth is a multiple object that reveals simultaneous discourses. Its thickness shows the physical density, while the depth refers to the spiritual reality of the event.  

Whoever goes through the labyrinth postulates a cosmos according to his aesthetic vision. Who builds it only contributes the contingency and the reason for the alternatives of use. The loss of spatial notion then does not deal with its physics, but with its metaphysics.  

In your essay The context of a Garden,  Alexander Kluge, quotes an apocryphal text by a certain Arno schmidt on the conventions of representation of a labyrinth. The paragraph discusses the object as a grotto: “We observe the construction from above and this allows us to see its paths and its walls. We look from above as controllers, However, no one who is drawn into a maze perceives it this way. » The concept of depth is usually used to indicate the dimensions of an object and even the characteristics of a space, but also as a substitute for mere thickness, a question opposed to spiritual projection, or aesthetic experience, the desire to Einfühlung which Worringer quotes. on Nature and abstraction

In a Kluge talk with the German artist Anselm Kieffer, this one revealed to him that as a child - he explains that it is about that time where the school has not yet mocked life with its structured and definitive ways - he used to play in his garden digging tunnels. Building them. He calls them shelters, naturally. What else to call them? The word experience concerns the deepest discussion of the human, as life itself is an experimental transit. Each step reveals and hides different readings; new nodes where you can decide to enter or not is a new alternative. The artist Kiefer confides to Kluge that a meter and a half underground would communicate him more accurately with knowledge and fun. In this way he carried his Kosmos magazines to read in complete solitude. But it was not all. Fundamentally, ”he says,“ the tunnel brought him significantly closer to the center of the earth.  

In the XNUMXs, the British Norman Foster, perhaps once again revealing the private life of thought and its delights - a question that architects manage to do from time to time between the lines - builds The Retreat (Cockpit), a work actually signed with his partners: Norman Foster & Partners, architects, in 1963. It is the same game — system that Anselm Kiefer tells Alexander Kluge about his childhood amusements.  

Extensively documented in precise drawings and details, The Retreat it is literally a strict cave whose faceted geometry harmonizes with the idea of ​​a nave: inside there is a space to rest, to cook, to read; but the cover, completely glazed, mimics the cockpit of a fighter bomber of the military aviation. The labyrinth is a cave where solitude is built as a principle of strength and suggestion.  

The work is in the middle of a forest on the bank of a river, -Pill Crek, and the descent to that crude concrete warehouse is brief: it does not last more than two steps. Inside, less stark, a person can also remain standing assuming that this is the final measure of the place. There is also an armchair and a lamp that turns the object as a beacon. Everything we see in the distance is glass. The vision is one-way: under the dense canopy of a forest, the ship focuses on the stars. This was Norman Foster's first work as an architect and he built it for himself, for his inquiries, his memoirs, and his troubles.    

Kluge continues, "under Schmidt's voice." Indeed, the labyrinth is not a horizontal construction. This results from Egyptian sources. The mazes are rather built in depth. That is exactly what shocks those who enter the labyrinth » 

An Egyptian construction contains innumerable internal labyrinths. The vast majority naturally lead to traps and of course it is not a question of curses but of a studied game of logic where the funeral thief must choose between several alternatives to reach the tomb of Pharaoh and his wealth. A treasure that was prized at any time but that was considered not for generations of an uncertain future, but of a concrete present: the tomb robbers who longed to keep the memory of the Empire. The princes' rest had to contemplate an eternal sleep with their beloved objects and that shelter was directed to their immediate time. The perfect funeral constructions were none other than deciding to hide the bodies directly on the mountain. An indifferent and impossible to remember landscape. This labyrinth has been the most effective and many of those bitumen-shrouded bodies have not yet been found, descendants of the deepest Egyptian lineage known to date. Hiding through deception is a form of maze. The stones are different from each other but the particularity of their facets describe a geometry that is difficult to remember. Time does the rest. On Fargo, the film by the Coen brothers, a criminal hides a suitcase of money in a snowy wasteland whose landscape - on the side of an indistinct road - will ultimately be impossible to remember. 

Entering a game implies a convention. While accessing, —starting— considers a right rather than a game. Therefore, the crisis of the game may be installed in the difficulty rather than in the impossibility. The design is ready to be fulfilled. Otherwise it could not be classified as such. A good part of the adrenaline that the experience transit implies is the desire to be able to overcome the challenge, rather than develop knowledge that immerses us in the experience itself. The sum of factors and alternatives create a universe of attraction capable of linking the superlative happiness of the game with a high probability of failure.  

What would it be worth to play without accepting the very condition of loss? Gamblers — I mean players of all stripes and conditions — feel the game itself as an irrepressible drive. There is no speculation or possibility of turning the loss into a limit; that is, resources, dignity, life itself. Let's say that for a player the grace of the game is placed there, in the possibility of losing as well as winning. It seems very hard, but the experiences themselves - and this is how Professor M. radically considers it - must modify the parts and the whole, otherwise - an experience without crisis - it does not represent but the very distinction of the useless.  

«Fate likes repetitions, variations, symmetriesías»  

En The veiled mirrors Borges says that «Around 1927, I metí a shadow girlíto: first by phoneéphone (because Julia startedó being a voice without a name and without a face); afteréyes, in a corner at dusk. Haveíto the alarming big eyes, the black and straight hair, the strict body» However, the encounters and walks blur the sense that unites them and disperses them: «Between us there was no love or fictionón of love: I guessed an intensity in her that was completely extrañto the eróethics, and the themeía» The Borgian labyrinth unfolds in Julia's room, who from one moment to the next sees her own face replaced by Borges's. The horror of that transfer has a precise beginning for Borges: «Islam asserts that the día final judgment, every perpetrator of the image of a living thing resurrectá with his works, and he will beá ordered to encourage them, and failá, And beá delivered with them to the fire of punishment»  

Borges considers the relationship of infinite time and memory as an endless descent into memory. What is lost and what is forgotten in the passing of time? Death does nothing but put an end to memories to hide them and reduce them to a lesser secret  «[...] orna thing, or a númere infinity of things, dies in each agonía, unless there is a memory of the universe, as the teósofos. 

In such a case, a specific game achieves a certain level of attraction when the player is the one who finds his own capacity to understand and navigate it. Those who cannot access these conditions actually offer a resistance that is clearly related to skepticism and even more to a personality that invokes the triumph over the game as a personal affront. In practice, the arguments and the reason for a game are expressed through a logic capable of surrounding and understanding the problem and solving it.  

Paul auster he controls the internal activity of the labyrinth by imagining not so much the exit but the very possibility of creating it even in a metaphysical limit. Let's go back: if a labyrinth proposes a way out and the alternatives are within its own logic, achieving it is a matter of time. That is to say, a logical, reasoned experience. Another thing happens if the conditions of the world and its internal coherence offer a panorama whose reason is hidden from our understanding. As accidents and contingencies are eventual episodes, no logic understands the alternative of damage. An alternative that can be understood as an isolated incident but that can change the course of events and therefore the very result of things. 

The challenge of learning concerns that courage: we see the way out but we do not know the alternatives and the paths that appear convoluted and critical of our own ignorance. A maze then proposes a unique direction, even when we cannot see it.  

Marco Fogg the protagonist of Moon, S Palace he slowly begins to lose himself in a series of contingencies that he can barely understand. He lives in an apartment in New York trying to finish his studies. At some point its decimated economy begins to bottom out. His only capital is more than a thousand books that his uncle gives him as a legacy and farewell. Although he reads them first, he sells them to survive. Homelessness is not long in coming, but Fogg's real dilemma, turned into Phileas fogg —A fictional character learned from books — is naturally spiritual. This is the desert landscape that Auster presents as an alternative and limit: an opaque mirror in front of a destiny as uncertain as it is inevitable.  Phileas Begin to disappear into another world. In those days, television shows the arrival to the moon. A conversation between skeptics reveals the possibility of a trick: "People are willing to believe anything they are told" 

A job confronts Phileas with a way out. However, it concerns the entrance to a labyrinth of several exits, all probably valid, but extremely diverse and strange. The cold, the loneliness, the decisions of youth imply a hardened gaze on reality, a certain valuable skepticism, an indifference capable of sustaining the course of the road even when it perceives that it is going in the opposite direction. The struggle for these alternatives becomes critical but also necessary. In that vital limit, Phileas begins to understand matter; the very substance of things but through compulsory learning: the blinded observation of its instructor, a paradox that concerns again the notion of the labyrinth.  

Regarding objects and space, there is still a veil to be drawn. The scale does not concern sizes specifically, but rather a parallel and concrete phenomenon that augmented observation presents: information. In this sense objects and space maintain an arbitrary relationship. It is under these specific conditions that we can subvert an object and make it unidentifiable. The books that disappear are dissolved in a new world, and definitely incorporated as experience: it does not matter if Phileas  He has sold them to pay the electricity bill or invested them as fuel to light the fireplace.  

Melancholic and still very young, Borges describes the concept of limit in this way, verses that articulate the full meaning of his conjectures: «There is a líNea from Verlaine who will not returné to remember, there is a pr streetóxima what's upá forbidden to my steps, there is a mirror that has seen me for úLast time, there is a door that I have closed until the end of the world. Among the books in my library (I am sawéndolos) there are some that will never openand" 

Aftermath Laika, Buenos Aire, April 2021