Room 17

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…a room with a floor of sand.

“Amphorae,” I pronounced; empty, of course.

“This is an easier choice to make,” they said.

“You may think so,” I muttered to myself, “but your choices are more limited than you know.”

One should never accept the obvious here. If you think of the Maze as a machine, confusion is its product, and the machine was hard at work.

Ignoring my good advice they hurried into…

 - Images and text copyright 1985 by Christopher Manson
used with permission. [Purchase MAZE from Amazon]

 

Room Type:  PATH     Doors:  6  29  33  45

Solution Summary: [COLLECTION CURATED BY WHITE Raven. SEE COMMENTS FOR ADDITIONAL SOLUTION PROPOSALS.]

● The obvious correct door is 45.

● The part of the Riddle of the Path in this room is “your” – derived from the sign elements “Why, oh ___ You are ___” = “y – o – u – r.”  [Credit: Unknown - prior to 1990.] The Guide’s comment, “”Amphorae,” I pronounced; empty, of course” may be a clue that we are to pronounce why-oh-you-are as “your” while ignoring the blanks… “empty of course.” [Credit: White Raven] In response to the visitor’s confidence the Guide retorts, “…your choices are more limited than you know,” in reference to the ”Why, oh ___ You are ___” puzzle this suggests that we are not supposed to choose words to fill in the gaps. Likewise, the Guide’s internal dialogue, “One should never accept the obvious here,” and “Ignoring my good advice…” suggests that the obvious approach of filling in the gaps is incorrect. [Credit: Vewatkin]

● There are four pieces of pottery on the left and five on the right 4&5=45.  [Independent Credit: The Electric Labyrinth Love Luau | White Raven] The connection between the pottery and Door 45 is indicated by the sign for 45 being in the shape of a vase. [Independent Credit: SP | White Raven]

● On the top border of the room there are visible arrows pointing up on the wall with door 45 in it, indicating that we take that door.  [Credit: Hello Gregor]

● The arrows on the piece of pottery next to Door 6 point away from this door.  [Independent Credit: The Electric Labyrinth Love Luau | White Raven] There are arrows on pottery pointing away from the locked door and Door 33 as well. [Independent Credit: Vewatkin | White Raven] [See Related Images] There also appears to be a visual cascade caused by images on the pottery and other visual cues that lead like trails to Door 45. [Credit: White Raven] [See Related Images]

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116 thoughts on “Room 17

  1. This is a beautiful room and, I think, the only room in which the doors are depicted in a manner coherent with the places that they go:

    6 (Trap): down to the dungeons;
    33 (Loop): into broad realms, ultimately unsatisfying (see the faces on either side) and tapering to a single point, Room 1;
    [29]: nowhere;
    45 (Path): through the castle gate into safety.

    This is fitting, as 17 is the first room on the Path that is not reachable by the casual explorer, and our reward on entering it is a vision of the kinds of doors that we have so painstakingly discerned from one another.

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  2. I’m late to the party, but I’m kind of surprised no one has mentioned the possibility that pronouncing “amphorae” could suggest a letter substitution somewhere: M for I (or E). Where that substitution might become relevant I don’t know…

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  3. OK – let’s try V3.0 here. He starts with “amphorea” as a word with good potential that he wants to use. In order to clue us we are free to add an ending he puts blanks on the sign. Without the blanks the sign could still give us “Y O U R” for the riddle of the path, and it could still give us “Why oh, you are…” to clue 6 as the place to start the riddle of the guide with only one blank. He gives us two blanks to try to say we can expand amphorea slightly, so we get “am for raven”. Or in a larger context with different punctuation – “am for ray”, I, pronounced “empty” – where the “pronounced empty” is the “ven” that we fill in. NOW he gives us the sand – very “part”icular stuff, to clue us we can shuffle the pieces. Result “For I am Raven”.

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  4. This is what I have so far: Narrative: “maCHINE(SE)” “COMFU(CIUS)sion” = “Chinese Confucius.” “Amphorae” = AMPHORISMS” = what Confucius is famous for creating = “good advice”. Confucius lived in the Zh(OU) Dynasty.

    A Confucius amphorism:“The way out is through the door. Why is it that no one will use this method?”

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    • Confucious say, person who solve riddle with sledgehammer and corkscrew have ironic twist of fate.

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    • Confucius does raise a good question, if people really weren’t walking through doors back in ancient China.

      Oh, but I just consulted my copy of The Big Book of Facts So Obvious They Don’t Need Any Authority to Support Them, and it turns out that the ancient Chinese DID use doors all the time, both for leaving AND entering rooms. It turns out Confucius’s question was premised on a false assumption!

      How fitting in a room that reproaches assumptions. Bravo, Christopher Manson.

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  5. The sign serves two functions. It is “your” for the riddle of the path, of course. But it is also over that little crawl to 6. “Why Oh, you are…” and in that sense it tells us that 6 is where the riddle of the guide starts. This helps explain some of the bits about accepting the obvious. “Your” choices being limited and muttered to “self” is a little inter-room red herring to 43 I think.Might be something more going on with the “empty” and blanks. Still clueless about the sand except for artistic purposes.

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    • Welll…here’s what I have. “part” is taught to us in 43. There is a “sly look” there which once we know “look” words are important for the guide might help us key in on this room. “part” then signals places in MAZE where we can take words apart to find “raven”, other birds, and other raven related things. There is a potential red herring connection to 43 here as well. And sand…is certainly particulate. So my theory is Manson is giving us license to really play Maze scrabble here – basically that let’s you build an answer you pretty much know is there, but it would never help you find anything in the first place. “Amphorae” is darn close to “Am for raven”. But the best place to find the missing letters to complete raven is far away in the text, but again, maybe the point of the sand give us this license. “One should ‘never’ accept. That also contains 3 letters for raven. If we buy that then we have “am for Raven, I ( or eye)…and this then is how he pronounced the final “empty” on the sign – something like “Why oh you/I am/are for Raven”. But again, you have to already know that the guide is Raven and that part words are special, and then this only maybe works. My problem is – why place a puzzle that you could really only get after you knew the answer? So, I’d like better, but that’s the best I have.

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    • Why would Manson hide phrases like “am for raven” and “I rare bull man”? Why wouldn’t he start with grammatical phrases that make sense?

      When you’re dealing with stilted anagrams, you would generally start with the phrase you want, and then take whatever anagram you can get out of it. So, for instance, you might take the phrase “pine forest” and turn it into “penis forte” or “sine for pet” or “I fret, o pens.”

      With good anagrams, the beginning and ending phrases both seem sensible, ideally relatable; you might take the phrase “pine forest” and turn it into “tree of pins.”

      But what doesn’t make sense to me is taking the sensible phrase and claiming that’s what a stilted phrase was turned INTO. That is, say you saw a picture of some pine trees and said, “Ah ha, it’s a ‘pine forest,’ that’s an anagram of ‘reopen fist,’ which is a reference to that scene in Blood Sport where Jean-Claude Van Damme bet he could snatch a coin out of that guy’s hand before he could close it, and the guy closed his fist and was grinning because he thought he won but then when he opened his fist he saw that Van Damme had actually replaced the coin with another one; this ties into other clues to the Guide’s identity that have to do with coins or hands, such as in Room 4. Actually, if you take a look at every place in the Maze where hands appear or are mentioned, there is a reference to Blood Sport, which leads me to believe…”

      Well, taking “amphorae” to mean “am for raven” isn’t an anagram. I don’t know what it is, but it has the same problem. You don’t start with the phrase “am for raven” and turn it into “amphorae”; you only ever dream up that connection by working backwards…and it doesn’t even work then!

      I was with you about looking for more puzzles like 45, but I think you need to take that seriously. Moving from the word he wants to clue to how he wants to clue it, you can follow the steps Manson took in transforming words in a straightforward way. (Except the awl/nun split, where there’s no good explanation known for picking “all.”) You can start at the beginning and see what he’s trying to clue and why and how he does it.

      But here:

      “Ok, he started with the phrase ‘am for raven,’ and–”

      NO WAIT STOP

      What?

      He sure as hell did not start with the phrase “am for raven” as the message he wanted to encode for the reader.

      But ok, let’s imagine he did.

      “So he picked a word that kind of sounded like that: amphorae.”

      What about the second syllable of “raven.” Isn’t “raven” the most important word here? Why don’t we care about that second syllable? Since “am for raven” is basically just word soup, does this mean that any word containing at least one syllable from “raven” would have been sufficient to contain a clue to “raven” as long as we could either pronounce the remaining syllables as words or pronounce them as something LIKE words? Whenever the number 7 appears, is that a clue that we “see [ra]ven”?

      But ok, let’s do that and then take some letters from the text and then jam some stuff around and we get:

      “Why oh you/I am/are for Raven.”

      Well, I’d say we started with nonsense and came full circle, but we really just never moved. If he wanted to create a phrase suggesting that guide is Raven, why not “I am Raven”? “He is Raven”? “The Guide is Raven”? “Raven”? Why not something that somehow communicates in at least approximate English syntax the intended solution?

      As difficult and unfairly constructed as the Riddle of the Maze and the Riddle of the Path are, they are never anywhere as bad as this. And they never involve any kind of reasoning like this.

      WHAT: Requires thinking of an object in terms of its written name, and adding a letter (which appears in the room) to it to make a new word.

      HOUSE: Requires seeing the horseshoe as a U on account of its shape, and thinking of an object in terms of its written name, and combining the two in an anagram to make a new word.

      WILL: Requires recognizing a common missing element from two rebuses.

      ALL: Requires thinking of two immediately unrelated words as homophones of opposites; requires choosing between them (basis unknown).

      LIVE: Anagram. (Requires choosing between a number of possible anagrams with no clear basis, however.)

      IN: Requires treating an eye as the homophonic letter I, and treating an ambiguous symbol as an N instead of a Z.

      Forget about how hard it is to group and solve these puzzle bits–starting with the words and moving forward, Manson used very traditional puzzle techniques to encode words.

      Those are the kinds of puzzles I suspect we’re missing. And we may never find them, because they may be impossibly difficult to find. But one advantage they do have over complete nonsense is that these kinds of encoded phrases are also difficult to imagine where they don’t really occur. At least, if they’re going to add up to something. You could take the S in Room 8 and add it to the PIN and say that makes the word SPIN, but it doesn’t get you anywhere. You could say, “Oh, that means we SPIN the candlestick around and it points at the right door,” but then you’ve interjected a step of nonsense.

      It’s certainly not clear that all the puzzles in MAZE follow that kind of rational flow from COHERENT STATEMENT through COMPREHENSIBLE ENCODING METHODS, but I can’t think offhand of any good evidence that any of them don’t. Well, maybe that clue about the chair.

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    • IF he did make this amphorea puzzle approximately as I said, and I’m not at all sure he did – I would say he would have had to start with amphorea, not the other way around. Just because he was a person dealing with old archaic stuff a lot it was a word he had around him and he noticed the ending of the word was something he might be able to use in a puzzle, and then – didn’t do a fantastic job with it – on the other side of the coin – you are not supposed to just stumble across the identity of the guide – but still – point taken – it’s a poor one. I wouldn’t say this is an anagram – it’s the first 3 syllables of the 4 syllables expression “am for raven”. (Or if you include the next word and rearrange – I am for Raven) Actually – you know that sort of works better – both of the blank lines are seemingly missing an ending and that could give you an excuse to tack a syllable on the end of “Am for ra…” ven – the blank lines invite adding endings.

      Really I’m more just fishing around promising fragments. I think this little exchange improved the fragment a bit. Maybe there is something else around that could improve it more, etc… still fishing.

      Of course now I don’t know what to do with the sand again….

      Now – “I rare bull man” – I really do think he placed – but I certainly don’t think he started with the phrase “I rare bull man” and got to rain umbrella. Rather – at some point he was just noticing features of the word “umbrella” (maybe he was already putting one in the maze for say the room 10 puzzle). The word “bull” is in there. “man” is nearly there. “n” is missing. And there is an extra “re”. He wants to use it – but he will need to find a word with “n” that will make some use of the “re”. It does not take a lot of imagination to come up with “rain” as a trial word if you are looking for words with “n” that have something to do with an umbrella. So now he has “bull man” and left overs “re” and “rai”. Pull out an “I” and “rare” is not hard at all to see. So he ends up with a phrase that has something to do with a “bull man” based on the inspiration he had from umbrella. Or, maybe he didn’t do anything like that at all and the umbrella that is pretty clearly intentionally set up as a fake guide just happens to have almost the right letters for “bull man” the major fake guide of maze. It’s just coincidence. Maybe. Of course doing that exercise again may have made an improvement dawn on me – “an umbrella” = “a bull man”.

      Thing of it this way – he is doing some free association with his maze pieces – finding stuff that is not there, because no one could have put it there if he didn’t – but he, just like us can come up with interesting random coincidental stuff. Then he latches on to that stuff and reinforces it – so that the tie-in is not longer an accidental one.

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    • BTW – The secularist I am – I do know of a historical process that (in my view) went a lot like how I described. Text based religions have lots of text – and by coincidence stuff happens that relates things in unintentional ways. Someone latches on to some random bits they find and then tries to convince others of their find – with little luck. So they start modifying texts and making their own texts (or letters in the case of Paul) so that what was at one point just a coincidence is now an intentional part of the final text. And thus the tradition grows and changes. So if Manson did find random neat stuff, and then build around it – it would not be an unprecedented human undertaking.

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  6. Actually, if you take the majority of the text to be referring to the YOUR sign, it makes a lot more sense. Their choices of letters to fill in the blanks are more limited than they know, because no letters are correct. Accepting the obvious (filling in the blanks) is wrong. Hurrying out the door, they ignore this advice while choosing the right room. “Pronounced” emphasizes the sounds of the words, i.e. that they’re letters. “Empty, of course,” as WR notes, acknowledges the empty blanks.

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    • Excuse me, I thought we had all agreed that the correct words to fill in the blanks are “gee” and “tea”.

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    • vewatkin,

      Good observations! This really rounds out the solution to this room, I’m adding it to the summary. Very well thought out.

      White Raven

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  7. “Your choices are more limited…”

    This has been interpreted before to refer in some way to the short door to 6, but really, all of the incorrect doors are “limited” (in the sense of being spatially restricted in unusual ways). The door to 6 is notably short; the door from 29 (unmarked) is notably thin, and the door to 33 narrows to a point on top. (If this were an arch above a normal-sized doorway, you could argue it actually makes the door more spacious, but the door seems to be of ordinary height, just with a narrowed top.)

    The un-”limited” door is that to 45, of course, which is (pretty nearly exactly, to my naked eye) as tall as the other doors, but without narrowing.

    Something potentially interesting going on here with the amphorae and the sand–the amphorae are declared to be empty, for some reason, and in a number of them we can see into their dark interiors. The surrounding sand is white. Now, the three wrong doors here are all dark, but the correct door leads to light–perhaps a connection between emptiness and darkness? If we can assume emptiness to be bad, which, come on, right? I don’t know whether the whiteness of the sand figures into it, but it serves as a visual contrast to the amphorae, and those are the two items highlighted by the text, and about the only things in the room, besides doors and decor. I don’t know what would make the whiteness of the sand seem attractive, however.

    Did Dave Gentile already do something to make “ampersand” out of the amphorae and the sand? I wish I had a principled way to do it; I like Greg’s old observation that all of the door numbers are variations on 9 (4 + 5 = 9; 3 x 3 = 9; 6 inverted (physically, not mathematically) is 9), and I further like how the idea of an ampersand could suggest addition over your other two choices. (4 & 5, also suggested by the 4/5 amphorae division in the room.)

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  8. The pattern on the nearest amphora is closest to a “meander”. Here’s an excerpt from Wikipedia:

    On the one hand, the name “meander” recalls the twisting and turning path of the Maeander River in Asia Minor, and on the other hand, as Karl Kerenyi pointed out, “the meander is the figure of a labyrinth in linear form”.

    Not really a clue but I found it interesting.

    I want so badly to walk through that door and be at the seaside, forgiving the presence the sand, but all that’s there is that stuffy room with no windows.

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    • No, but considering the linguistic fortitude of the rest of the clues, I’d say S + AND could be something, especially since there are S shapes on 2 of the amphorae (maybe more). S + AND ??? and what? Maybe it’s in the picture.

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    • Four and five…

      I like the idea of getting an “and” from the sand, though it seems completely superfluous. It has a leftover S, amphorae has a leftover AM…

      It may just be there because if there were a solid floor then the amphorae couldn’t be resting at the various angles they are, or have buried handles, etc. It makes it a lot easier for Manson to set then up how he wants them.

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    • Vewatkin wrote: “It may just be there because if there were a solid floor then the amphorae couldn’t be resting at the various angles they are, or have buried handles, etc. It makes it a lot easier for Manson to set then up how he wants them.”

      This is the first time someone here has seriously pointed out that a major factor in illustration design is artistic necessity. Artistic necessity occurs in every room. These are not red herrings or intended distractions just things Manson had to do in order to create the riddles. It helps a lot in determining what is a riddle and what is not, to remember the elements of all the other riddles in a room and their necessary components.

      Congratulations Vewatkin!

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  9. Man, I hate to say it, but “am-FOUR-EE” is starting to look a lot better to me. It’s almost just a question of how rampant alphanumeric coding is, and if it’s fairly rampant, then am-four-ee almost certainly didn’t happen by accident. I’m not completely sold, but I think my previous rejection was overstated.

    Vincent Watkins Maze flipflop # 52.

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  10. Of course, one other reason why they shouldn’t leap to the obvious is that there’s part of a hidden message to find here. It says the group ignored his advice and “hurried” into 45. Maybe the guide’s point isn’t that they shouldn’t go to 45, but that they shouldn’t do so before examining the room. They ignore his advice not by choosing the wrong door but by leaving hastily.

    Interestingly (maybe), the group is never suggested to be picking up on the riddle of the path, but they are always suggested to be picking the right door. This reading preserves that pattern.

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    • Vewatkin, I am intrigued but I don’t follow you.

      As I understand it, if we ignore the intro and exit lines, line 1 is about the YOUR riddle, and lines 2-4 are about 45.

      It sounds like you are suggesting that line 4 is about the YOUR riddle. But alternately suggesting that instead lines 1-4 may all about 45.

      Is this right? And what do you mean by “This reading preserves that pattern.”

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    • I don’t think anything in that post required any of the lines to be about the 45 decision. For the sake of simplicity I’ll just assume everything is about the YOUR puzzle. What I’m saying is that interpreting the text this way means the guests screwed up the hidden message, not the door decision, which is consistent with the fact that the group is nowhere else described as picking the wrong door, nor anywhere else described as finding part of the Riddle of the Path. Additionally, it means the guide’s “good advice” isn’t completely wrong, which it would be if he were referring to the door decision. (The guide giving bad advice wouldn’t be notable except that he internally asserts that the advice is sound. He isn’t just misleading the group with that description.) (Of course, he never actually gives any advice out loud…)

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    • Sorry, misunderstood the last part of your previous post. Generally I find your posts clear and insightful these last two I’ve had trouble with. Maybe it is because I am trying to drink less coffee.

      I think I got it now, you are saying that the group is ignoring the guide’s good advice by not looking carefully or adequately for the riddle of the path.

      I don’t know… seems to be about the door, despite the problems this causes.

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    • It’s clearly meant to sound like it’s talking about the door decision. If Christopher Manson told us in person that he had never considered that interpretation, we would call him a liar.

      But since that makes the text flatout wrong, it seems that it has to be referring to something else, unless this is the room where Manson said, “Screw puzzles, I’m just going to lie.”

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    • I see the problem and your solution solves the problem but it seems more straight forward just to conclude that Manson is messing with us because this room has an obvious correct choice. Manson tried hard to make every room difficult to choose the right door and this one is EASY.

      I think the guide’s thoughts are Manson, as you said, lying to us in order to throw us off and make us take the wrong path.

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    • There’s certainly something to that perspective. Though some explanations have been offered, Room 23 seems to have a complimentary problem, in that the text implies that the group went to 45, and the apparent reason is to throw off people who are just flipping through the book trying to figure out the path. 23 doesn’t try as hard as 17, but it’s the same sort of thing, and it could be as simple as trying to trick flippers. It’s at least about tricking flippers. But it seems so simple to have a double entendre on deck that it would be surprising if Manson didn’t bother to concoct one that worked. (And given how little we’ve read into this room, thrre’s still a very real chance that there’s some other message we should be getting out of here. There’s still no good solution to the door problem in 45, and it has long been hypothesized that the answer may be found somewhere else. The Guide says the Riddle is all there is to find in 45, so if there is a door indicator there, the Guide is lying, internally, again.)

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    • HM, what is your question in response to do? There are too many of my long-winded paragraphs in this chain to know what point you’re referring to.

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    • Oh, I think I see what you mean. That’s a good point. It may be that the illustration for Room 45 doesn’t contain a door indicator, but that the text tells in some way where to go. That’s a good hypothesis.

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  11. Since I am throwing out my “scraping the bottom of the amphorae” solutions for this room – here’s another highly debatable one:

    The total number of handles on the jars to the right is 6, the total number on the left is 3. But on the right they are grouped together and on the left (the 3) they are in two groupings. Does this suggest 6 and 33, each opposite the corresponding door? Beats me, but there you have it.

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    • An interesting way to look at that is that you have 3 ___ 6, and 45 fills in the blank. I say it’s interesting because we then have comments about the amphorae (“pronounced”) that seem to relate to the sign, and things on the sign (blanks to be filled in) that relate to the amphorae.

      I suspect a lot of the text really refers to the sign; it’s a little trickier than it immediately appears that the blanks shouldn’t be filled in at all.

      It has been observed that YOGURT is one way to fill in those blanks. Another way, that preserves the division into two words, is to fill in YON URN, which, uh, refers to the 45 sign?

      More seriously, though, I suspect the “limited options” comments are directed at the fact that there not only few options to fill in those blanks–there are no correct options. The blanks have to be left blank in order to spell the word of the Riddle.

      As for disregarding the obvious, I wonder whether that is an admonition against returning here from 45. If traveling in and out of a Maze, the obvious route would be to return the way you came, ala Theseus and his string. But that will do you no good here. That’s also why this room contains clues to 45 when it’s already obvious you have to go there–if you come here after 45, you need to know to go back. Maybe that’s another reading of limited options: 45 is the correct door whether headed in or out.

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    • Vewatkin, if you forget about the blanks for a moment your 3456 solution is actually rather straight forward. 3 handles / 45 / 6 handles. Could it be that simple? It is more complicated with the addition of the blanks suggesting we fill in the 45 but either way I like it!

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