The Accidental Labyrinth

Once there was a bricklayer who had a daughter as beautiful as any princess, but he was a poor bricklayer. And men from the village were always trying to sneak into the house. So the bricklayer did the only thing he could do and laid down walls within the room and a hallway within a hallway that led to his room first.  It was very uncomfortable for her because the windows were walled over and the room within the room was considerably smaller. And the hallway was so tight she had to side step it.  

But the men kept coming. The bricklayer had a most beautiful daughter and no choice but to build more proxy hallways and rooms that once the men entered, he would wall up and seal their fate. He built the walls so thickly that nobody could break them without the necessary tools. And so he put up hallway after hallway and room after room to trap every man who dared woo the daughter he loved more than anything else.

Thirsty for revenge and hungry to protect his precious gem of a daughter, the bricklayer stayed focused on building his traps but failed to keep in mind any overall plan. Eventually, he trapped himself with suitors on every side and had lost track of where he might even be in relation to his daughter’s room.

The bricklayer’s daughter worried when her dad did not return but when she exited her house she found herself on the outside of her dad’s accidental labyrinth. She knocked along the outer wall and each one claimed to be her father.  

As she sat down to cry, a man approached and asked if she had lost her father.  She was choked up and just nodded. The man promised to get her father out only if he could marry her. Taken aback by the rings on his finger and the handsome robes draped from his broad shoulders, she told him that he didn’t understand. She couldn’t marry him because she didn’t want anyone to save her father. She was crying tears of joy.  

And she shamed the prince for offering such a promise that by the very offering made the opportunity of shrugging off her dad’s self-imposed fate a little harder for her to swallow and this somehow made her feel like it was the prince’s fault.  The prince insisted that she did not know what she was saying and insisted that he ask her father for her hand. At once, she saw her father in this prince. He wasn’t listening to anything she said. He wasn’t royal in spirit but another bricklayer who wanted to do the same thing her dad had done to her.

She showed the prince the sledgehammer and he ripped a hole in the roof where her father was. The prince extended his hand and lifted her father out of the hole. But dad pushed the man in and sealed the roof back up.  

The bricklayer returned to his daughter’s empty room. She had escaped. And her poor father did not understand why. A heavy sleep overcame him. And he slept for days in his daughter’s bed.

When he finally awoke, he found himself wearing his daughter’s dress. When he saw his reflection, the bricklayer didn’t know what overcame him but he could not stop dancing and laughing at himself. And this silly joy attracted men from all around who wanted a dance with such a fun girl. When he tried to tell them that he was a man also, they laughed even harder. When he stopped dancing, the men chased after him to gain his hand in marriage.

The bricklayer walled himself back up in his house. He really wanted to be outside in this dress and dancing and laughing for the sake of nothing but fun in any space without walls (his whole life had been about lousy walls, he screamed in his mind), but he couldn’t with all these serious, deranged men around looking for property to own at all times. And then it dawned on him what he had done to his daughter. He hadn’t protected her. He had imprisoned her. Worse, prepared her for another man to imprison her as well.

To make amends, the bricklayer tore down all the walls he had built. He destroyed the accidental labyrinth. Released all of its prisoners. And became a carpenter who built a nice house of wood with plenty of windows and doors. And he planted a garden and spent his time kneeling beside his plants in the sunshine. He yearned for nothing anymore except the freedom of wide open spaces.

His daughter returned one day but she didn’t recognize her father. She demanded that this man in one of her dresses tell her what had happened to her father and the labyrinth that used to be here. He stroked his beard for the right words to say but they never came. Instead, he brewed her a tea from his garden and asked for her forgiveness. Then it hit her that this was in fact her father so she accepted his heartfelt apology.

She found the new house inviting with all of its doors and windows. And she moved back in. And whenever a man came to visit, if dad didn’t wear him out with dancing wildly in the fields or by showing him everything in his garden, his daughter could easily slip out any window or door if any man let his possessiveness ruin the situation.

an inevitable whisper

While on a photographic quest for an amazing epic scene, the small moment in the tiniest corner of the woods can speak as loudly, if one knows how to listen beyond one’s intent.

On the way to a waterfall, a stream whispers under a tree. Fallen leaves quietly look for a place to release their tannins. Moss gently lingers across the heavy wet bark.

This soft entropic scene slowly drifts me along its slide back into material. And the scene whispers to me that death is an illusion, or an imaginary ego point in a process that is concerned with the larger return of existence.

I release any bitterness about being a part of what this scene whispers into my ear. The inevitable has softly spoken in this small round corner of the woods and I gently accept it.

The Old Man’s Return

Once there was an old man who wanted to return to the village where he was born one last time before his passing.  He had left his home long ago by following one type of work after another and in so doing lost track of how far he had traveled away from the home of his childhood.  

His life appeared to him as the strangest dream from which he had awoken.  He was so far away that he was unsure of how to find his way back home. So he retraced his steps and went form place to place where he had worked.  But after a few places he got lost. Because he was so old, some of the places where he had worked were abandoned or destroyed.  

He asked anyone he could if they had heard of his village and people told him that nobody called it that anymore, not in many years, but they told him the new name.  And when he came to the village by a different name, he was sure that it wasn’t his old home at all. There were no familiar or friendly faces and the village didn’t even look the same. So he moved on.

He did indeed come upon the village of his youth eventually.  And he spoke with his folk and they smiled and smirked at each other as they heard his stories. He swore that they hadn’t aged a bit. All the sweet faces he had longed for were before him now.  They thought him a peculiar old man who told them he came from there, when they knew he never did.  They took him in anyways and cared for him. His last days were spent in bliss.

miniature tree

We see miniature trees everyday off in the distance. Such a common site gets easily dismissed. But a photograph can cross back over that threshold and aside from any tilt-shifting emphasize this feeling of the miniature.

I think this taps into feelings I have for what is smaller than me. And the tendency to see small things as cute. Protective feelings arise over these baby trees. It’s the deep satisfaction that can come from caring for an aquarium or crafting a train diorama.

Whenever we peer into a microcosm, the observations run simultaneously with the realization that we just might be in a microcosm to a perspective beyond our awareness. Perhaps this is at the base of the religious belief in a higher power. I often wonder about beliefs as side effects or reactions to such phenomenological occurrences as an optical effect.

Would we take better care of things if we saw them as miniature? Maybe it’s time to walk around looking backwards through binoculars at things that are difficult to have compassion for, in order to help out.

Next time a conflict arises, should I just miniaturize the source and care for it instead of miniaturizing myself into an unnecessary struggle? Just like a Buddhist monk might miniaturize desire itself in order to miniaturize suffering?

Or maybe in the future, AI will read our emotional responses and adjust them to a calmer state for better decision-making by employing this feeling of the miniature, while controlling our evaluations so that the decisions made are best for its purposes. The same kind of therapeutic brainwashing seen in cults only turned into an algorithm, for our own benefit of course.

A Blind Duel

Once there was an old man who thought he was young and there was a young man who thought he was old.  The old young man challenged the young old man to prove who was the youngest and who was the oldest of all. 

They agreed to hold three competitions. One to see who could row the fastest across a lake. Another to see who could outwit the other at a game of  trivia. And the third to see who could woo a lady.

The first proved that the young man was much younger than he thought. The second that the older was a lot older than he had hoped.  But the third ended in a tie because the lady could not be lured by the strange display of decrepit youth or stupid maturity. Of course, the young man was offended that she had called him stupid and the old man was also very insulted when she uttered that foulest of words, decrepit.  After she told them that they had gotten her insults backwards, neither understood what she meant at all.

Furious at their unwillingness to admit the obvious, she lead them to her bedchamber and for a moment both men thought he was the winner. Instead, she stood them before a mirror.

The young man called her a witch when he saw a baby-faced reflection. And the old man called her a sorceress who commanded the dark arts to conjure up such an image of a frail and haggard old toad. 

Thus, the competition solved nothing because fools only try to prove what they believe at the cost of rejecting a simple plain truth.

Shadow Pareidolia

What do you see in these shadow figures? I see the Egyptian queen Nefertiti! It has this heavy mythical weight for me even though its just a silhouette of rock formations somewhere in Utah.

Pareidolia happens when I see something like a face in a cloud that actually doesn’t exist. In this sense, when pareidolia occurs, I am seeing my own mind displayed before me.

In this vein, I make other art I post on Instagram (@oneroundcorner) that employs a random process of multiple exposures and mirroring to produce pareidolia effects like the one below. Zoom in and look at the absurd figures that appear. I’m constantly surprised by how mythical and spiritual they feel while being randomly made.