The Labyrinth and the Fall from Freedom

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The labyrinth as a loss of transparency, as the creation of the “world’s opacity” as Borges called it. As if a confounding net were woven over us by Chaos or some other confusion-loving Titan. In the labyrinth we are without a map, and it is so difficult to explain or understand the real reasons why things take place. Without a map and lost we are, lost from our essence, our knowing, our sapience, and, because of that, reality is very murky here.

It’s not being in the maze that is the problem, rather it’s the fact that we don’t know how to find our way around it that is disturbing; that we don’t even know what it is we are moving around in. We have been modelling a new home in here according to our own fancies, and we think this model we have created is reality itself. We are lost because, unlike Theseus, we entered the labyrinth without Ariadne’s thread to guide us.

That thread we ignored is knowledge: not a periphery knowledge or a superficial understanding of the things that we have imagined our self-created world in the labyrinth to be, but the authentic map that shows us how to move within the corridors of the real world.

From this perspective the Judaic myth of the Fall from Paradise is turned on its head. It was not the consumption of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge that caused the expulsion of humanity from Eden, but rather the fact that they lost sight of the tree itself. Lost sight of it precisely because they were told to flee from it. The flight from the Tree of Knowledge, or the banishing from it, is the first anti-democratic crime in human pre-history. The Tree had to be rendered taboo to the tribe so that the king as priest could take total possession of it for himself. What is taboo for the tribe is power for the leader.

In the Greek myth of the labyrinth the Minotaur represents power in its most cruel and perverse form – the power that will demand your innocent children to be taken from you and devoured by power itself. Such a cruel power necessitates resistance. It incites rebellion, sows seeds of democratic revolution. But real democracy can only be obtained by acquiring the knowledge on which all power is based. To penetrate the labyrinth knowledge is needed, and the Spiderwoman Ariadne provides it for the hero Theseus by giving him her thread. With its aid the hero is able to kill the Minotaur, but he does not return knowledge to the people. Instead the hero clings to the Minotaur’s secret in order to increase his own power – and this has been the situation throughout human history, even unto our own imaginary democratic era. Knowledge is power whenever knowledge can be appropriated in select, closed circles; at the centre of labyrinth that everyone else is lost in.

Real democracy – democracy as a human phenomenon – is not created through the casting of votes, but through the freedom of knowledge possessed by the demos. Only by being granted access to all knowledge can a demos be considered free. Likewise, censorship and the concept of Classified Information has to be a criminal concept in democracy. Knowledge exists for the community, discovered by the community. In this way we arrive at a democratic communism of knowledge. The patent and intellectual property along with the Top Secret become inhuman crimes.

Perhaps in the information age we see a new chapter being written into the myth of the labyrinth. In this epilogue, humanity, in a world of patents and other totalitarian controls of knowledge and the power granted by its control, is finally pitied by the gods, and especially by the Titan Ariadne. Because of this a new web of knowledge is woven around the whole, allowing a free exchange of itself to all.

This new chapter is called: Ariadne’s WWW.

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