Room 43

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…a great hall, dominated by the entrance to room 22. The face over the door had a sly look.

“Is it good or bad to have only two choices?” they wanted to know.

It was, predictably enough, neither “good” nor “bad.” These people just didn’t know how to phrase a meaningful question. You have to be very particular in this House.

We went on to…

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


Room Type: TRAP     Doors: 4  5  14  22  28  38


● PEEK and PART reversed say KEEP and TRAP. [Credit: John Bailey] The back of the room reads, left to right, “KEEP YOURSELF.” In the form of a classic word puzzle, the word “YOURSELF” is separated by being on two jars, so that the phrase in the back of the room reads “keep yourself apart.” [Independent Credit: Barry / Aria | White Raven] Perhaps the bell/sounding bell/phonograph flute in the doorway suggests filling in a word (“apart”) between the jars. [Credit: White Raven]


81 thoughts on “Room 43

  1. I wonder what rooms the people holding the signs came from. Obviously one came from 5, because the door is still open in that room.

    • It doesn’t seem like doors being open or closed carries through rooms, though. The people could be statues, I guess… seems like it would be a boring life just holding signs in the Maze for a living.

  2. I have a plan. Ritz’s foolproof “is there a bull?” plan.
    I am going to find 30 people completely unaffiliated with MAZE and ask them all the same 5 questions. I will record their answers and generate statistics for each question.
    Question 1: What do you think of this image?
    Question 2: If there is one, can you find another image within this face? If so, what?
    Question 3: Can you see the head of a bull in this face?
    *I will then show them the outlined image*
    Question 4: Do you believe this bull image was intended to be hidden in this face?
    Question 5: Knowing that this image is taken from a cryptic puzzle book with a puzzle involving the Minotaur, do you think the bull image was intended to be hidden?
    I will show you the statistics when I am done with this experiment.
    You may say the fact that these people “don’t know how Manson thinks” is going to get answers not relevant, but I think that increases the relevance in a way, Well, wish me luck.

    • You’re certainly correct that asking people unfamiliar with Maze or Manson increases the relevance of these results. Question #2 seems like a good idea to me; I assume this is what you intended, but make sure these questions are revealed sequentially, and that no suggestion is made of a bull before they consider whether something else is hidden in the face.

    • Wow, the results have been really interesting so far.
      People have seen:
      A snake
      Owl eyes
      A dragon
      And even after I told them to look for a bull, nobody has so far! Huh…

    • It wouldn’t be compatible with this experiment, but I would be interested to see whether people can identify the image a bull from the image on this website that highlights where the face of a bull is supposed to be located.

      Man, it really, really disappoints me to still be talking about this with people who act like this is a legitimate controversy. LOOK AT THAT IMAGE. Those tiny horns are not bull horns. If you want to know what bull horns look like, you could 1) rely on the common knowledge that everyone reading this book probably has, 2) google it, or 3) look at room 7, which demonstrates not only what bull horns look like, but that Manson was not bizarrely unaware of what bull horns look like, nor bizarrely incapable of drawing bull horns.

      That nose is not a bull’s nose. If you want to know what a bull’s nose looks like, you could 1) rely on the common knowledge that everyone reading this book probably has, 2) google it, or 3) note that all you have done is taken the nose on the human face and applied to the smaller “bull face” you’re proposing, thereby simply putting a giant human nose on a bull, and realize how ridiculous that sounds and how ridiculous it looks even without doing any additional research.

      Bulls have eyes and ears–very prominent ears, in fact.

      All this does is take an image of a human face with horns and edit it in such a way that the horns are connected to the nose, which leaves you with a longish head shape that has horns and a nose. Bulls have a longish head shape, and they have horns and noses. But their horns do not look like this, their noses do not look like this, and even given that you DREW YOUR OWN SHAPE FOR THE HEAD, their heads do not look like this. And given that this image doesn’t have eyes, a mouth, a nose ring, anything else that would form part of a bull’s face or head, all that we are left with is what you could take from any face with horns and a nose–namely, the horns, connected to the nose by lines you have chosen to draw.

      Please, please, please do not hypothesize that Manson just failed to draw a recognizable bull.

      Please, please, please do not scour google for an image of a deformed bull at a strange angle that makes its nose appear unusually bulbous and human.

      Please, please, please employ some common sense and knowledge to this situation. Think about what it means that people who are told there is a bull there, and want to see a bull there, can see it; and that people who are not motivated to see a bull there do not. Look at Manson’s body of work and recognize what a skilled illustrator he is and how capable he is of a drawing a bull’s head that looks like a bull’s head–

      In fact, AND IT IS ABSOLUTELY RIDICULOUS THAT WE HAVE TO DISCUSS THIS, but I’m looking at Step 21 in Manson’s The Practical Alchemist, and he has drawn a bull! It looks unmistakably like a bull, and nothing like the face you have drawn in 43! There’s another one in Step 36–it’s a drawing of a drawing of a bull, actually, but it reinforces that even on a smaller scale and with much less detail, Christopher Manson was aware of the salient features of a bull and knew how to use line drawings to depict them recognizably. There’s another one on page 75 of The Rails I Tote!

      I DON’T KNOW WHAT MIGHT GET THROUGH TO YOU PEOPLE! Sorry, I’ve let you drive me insane. Sorry, everybody, sorry.

    • I mentioned this before but it’s still ringing true. Even after telling them to look for a bull, nobody has come close to finding it
      LOOKING for a bull in the face it still wasn’t found.
      If I can get through thirty bull-less takes…

    • I wish the discussions were like varied conversations about what the maze is from a narrative standpoint, an aesthetic standpoint, a thematic standpoint, while looking at different clue possibilities (but by different I don’t mean drawing upon some obscure novel that mentions the word “minotaur” once.) There’s so many dimensions to this book that I see get pushed aside in favor of “4 chair legs times 3 roots on the tree gives us twelve, and in The Twelve Days of Christmas a tree is mentioned!” I don’t know, I just feel like we’re picking up the scraps of MAZE and if we keep thinking like that we’ll exhaust ourselves. There’s so many other dimensions to it.

    • I’m not even against all the bizarre item counting stuff, or talking down to those who do that, I’ve probably made similar silly one-off claims, but it’s so binary. MAZE is nowhere near *just* multiplying tree branches.

    • Well, I’m sort of against it-
      Multiply tree roots all you want. Leave one-off comments all you want. Just don’t let MAZE become exclusively that. Only with different perspectives can we tie up the loose ends of MAZE. We’re the most collected community of the book yet, with the most resources and opinions. Let’s put it to good use!

    • Wow, what an excellent point. YOU’RE RIGHT, of course.

      I wrote exactly one “blog post” on Mazecast dot com, and I only ever planned one other: a discussion of why the puzzle design of Maze is central to its aesthetic (which is the key to its enduring appeal). The fact that years down the line I never bothered to follow through with this, and am still complaining about gentilian puzzle theories, is emblematic of how I little I’ve contributed to Maze fandom.

      Ritz ritz ritz, let’s do a Mazecast!

    • I think we end up talking and arguing about “solutions” because that’s the aspect of Maze that lends itself to debate. I do think we have discussed other aspects of the book, but more in Mazecasts and in the chat and on the site than here, maybe because that kind of discussion is more suited to those forums. The nature of this site, split up as it is by room, encourages more granular discussion.

      But while I don’t think we are in danger of exhausting ourselves talking about puzzles–some of us have been doing it for many many years, starting with the John Bailey site (Vince, e.g.)–you are absolutely right that other aspects of Maze–aesthetics, storytelling–are worth discussing more and have been given short shrift.

      Have you read Reina Hardy’s “A Labyrinth in the Shape of a Book” on Electric Literature? I think you would enjoy it.

      Yes, please, please come on a Mazecast!

    • MAZE is such an enigma. I love it and hate it. It’s really what got me excited with puzzles and codes in the first place. (Not that there are too many codes in MAZE, but it is excellent at hiding messages through unique means. Maybe not so good at letting those hidden messages be found… but that’s a different story.)
      MazeCast? How daunting…
      I think I’ll have to absorb MAZE more, but until then I’m happy to contribute in a written capacity to this website. I still like to think we’re only scratching the surface.
      Thank you for all the support guys, I’ve been keeping up with this site for a while and finally felt ready to talk. I’m ready to take a crack at what I can!

    • Speaking of other forms of MAZE representation…
      I found Maybe it’s a Maze again and its as good as ever, I remember watching it when I first checked out the online MAZE community a while ago! Heh heh-

    • “I found Maybe It’s a Maze again and it’s as good as ever” allows for a wide range of interpretations.

  3. I suppose if the hair/yarn does not have to mark the correct door in any way – then there is a hairy ape in 38. So we could go from 1 to 41 to 38 to 43.

  4. If yarn is supposed to connect to Ariadne’s tread, then how? I suppose people have connected yarn to the doll’s hair in 41. And that curtains in the doorway in 43 look like hair. And the 2 marks above the door could be a crown. So maybe this is the princess Ariadne. But door 21 does not lead to 43 any quick way that I can see.

  5. I think that the message in Room 1 could possibly relate to this room. There are several clues to suggest the word MINOTAUR. According to Greek Mythology, the Minotaur was a beast that wandered the Labyrinth, which was created by Daedalus, and was killed by Theseus, who used Ariadne’s yarn to find his way through. In Room 1, the words STORY, FABLE, TALE could all relate to myths. The last word was YARN, which could refer to the story/fable/tale of Theseus using yarn to defeat the Minotaur.

    • TriSkeet,

      I like the yarn = thread of Theseus connection. An interesting theory.

      Welcome to The Abyss!

      White Raven


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