Title: Lost & Found
Subtext: Unrest in the maze.
Date: 17 Jan 15 (Saturday in the AM)
Time: Less than a minute
Replies: 24
Revisions: 10
Publicity: Workshop

Three men lie sleeping around a fire. Around them is a great maze of woods. They are lost. The fire crackles.

What was that?

I don’t know. It sounded like —

Where’s Terri?

Shh — do you hear that?

I don’t hear anything.

The wind stopped.

So maybe when the light comes up we’ll be able to hear each other in the maze.

But where’s Terri?

I don’t know. I don’t know.

What’s wrong?

He was saying some weird things in his sleep last night. Really weird. And it was like he was wide awake and talking, but totally asleep.

Like what?

He kept saying, ‘We’re not in a maze. We’re not in a maze.’

What’s wrong with that?

And then he was like, ‘We are the maze.’

You’re freaking me out. Besides, you know Terri. He reads stuff like that.

I’m getting a weird feeling about this. We didn’t wake up to a noise. We woke up because it got quiet.


Horse » Authorship
Elk » 2:43 PM 17 Jan 15
Horse » 1:16 PM 17 Jan 15
Elk » 8:22 AM 17 Jan 15
Elk » 7:27 AM 17 Jan 15
Elk » 7:23 AM 17 Jan 15
Horse » 2:53 AM 17 Jan 15
Horse » 2:49 AM 17 Jan 15
Horse » 2:49 AM 17 Jan 15

The Thread (24)

 Author's voice in grey. 

  1. A nice thought — stirring to the quiet. Horse seems to prefer unconventional dialogue markup. In this case, none whatsoever. (Full disclosure, I switched the single quotation marks over from double quotation marks because it’s dialogue in dialogue and single marks seemed to fit the thinness of punctuation.) I kind of like the absence of markup here. It adds something to the dreamlike quality of things, especially because there are three speakers — we don’t know who’s saying what, and we don’t need to.

  2. This is too good not to throw in here. Connect the dots.

  3. Horse called for a co-author. I took some liberties — changed Jack to Terri. Jack? What is this, any story USA?

  4. Connecting the dots is giving me whiplash. So I think it’s got something to do with the spelling of the name Terri. You can spell a name any way you want, but I’m pretty sure the “i” makes it a feminine diminutive. It’s supposed to be three men, so you would expect three typically masculine spellings, all LGBTQ stuff aside. So you’ve got a spelling of a name thing going on here. Another very subtle dot might also be the fact that Terri sounds like Jerry which would also connect out to a fuzzier dot in the constellation of Yerry, a reference to another Seinfeld episode. There’s potentially endless ways to get from my piece to your link. Thing is, Terri’s name is actually Jack. A co-writer named him Terri, for some reason. And it’s funny, because I named him Jack for two reasons. One, these guys were hiking and camping, and I wanted imagery of a guy’s guy. Some real dudes. Then I thought about making a beanstalk the way out of the maze, but took that out. Jack was a nice artifact anyway. But I suppose Terri works. I think the piece still needs a resolution.

  5. It’s much better unresolved. Leave it to the maze of a reader’s mind. (I imagined they were thereafter eaten by bears.)

    As for Jack — I thought to extract more the impression of reality to counterbalance the phantasmagorical, and therefore went with something unsuspecting. For some reason I associate names I don’t encounter often in reality as more fictionally real. Anyway, I’ve never known a Jack outside of fiction.

  6. This is deceptively shallow. I believe Horse is attempting to convey a stream of consciousness narrative with unstructured dialogue and have the reader leave it at that. I will not leave it at that. There is a meta narrative here about labyrinths and existential dread which cannot be ignored. I would love to see Horse expand this somehow. Or, does it need expansion?

  7. I agree that it’s good unresolved, and that the ambiguity of the narrative makes room for some good reader response critique. As an author, I’m happy having it interpreted like it’s a dream. I think there’s something universally human about the piece, like it’s a template of the human mind, more like a labyrinth than the maze the other characters remain self-trapped in. In other words, I didn’t write it; I observed it and documented it. You tell me what it means.

    If you ask me though, it seems like there’s something about Jack’s, or Terri’s, self-talk (We’re not in a maze, we’re not in a maze) that helps him shift his thinking from one reality to another.

  8. @elk, I once knew a guy named Jack Jesse. That’s two first names, like John Wayne, except even better. Come on.

  9. Jack Jesse — so true. He was a trumpeter and helicopter repairman, a common pairing.

  10. I’m a believer in authorial intent. You can’t force anything on the reader, and it’s always open to interpretation, but you should know what you mean in some way. I don’t like the idea of, “I wrote it, you tell me what it means.” Not entirely, at least. A well written work will direct toward something or someplace.

    Don’t get me wrong, though, @horse. Intent is almost always an unknown and often irrelevant to interpretation. But without it there in the first place, literally anything would suffice as a text.

    Which brings up an interesting question: is it possible to write without intent?

  11. Of course — the intent could be to induce thought in a reader, which is sometimes how it seems to go with the haiku. So not necessarily an intent within the content, but solely intent to trigger external interpretation. Is that writing without intent? A form of it, I guess. Totally no intent would be less than stream of consciousness (an intent itself). It’d be like accidental writing, even less than writing in your sleep.

  12. Right. Accidental writing. Like, I didn’t mean to write that.

    Actually, that probably happens all the time.

  13. Autocorrect — @horse. I’m actually thinking we should open an autocorrect channel and take unintentionality seriosy.

  14. @elk — Like those beautiful ELL moments, but provided by autocorrect.

  15. Writing, like parking, cannot be done without intent.

  16. Not even autocorrect, or sleep writing?

  17. What if you crash your car into a parking spot?

  18. Some fine examples from some fine animals.

    Autocorrect is the eggshell-skull tort of writing. Just because the consequence doesn’t align with the intent doesn’t negate that intent.

    Sleepwriting is in the same vein. Just because it wasn’t a conscious intent doesn’t mean there wasn’t intent.

    Finally, crashing into a parking spot could be the intent of parking gone awry. Bear in mind that the act of a car coming to rest is not the same as parking, just as a pen leaking in your pocket is not writing. Is it art? Maybe. Writing? Nope.

  19. It seems Rabbit is drawing a definitional line around writing and intent. It’s interesting, inasmuch as I always thought to take consciousness and intent as interdependent if not synonymous in some way.

  20. Anyone who looked at Terri as he or she got up and began circling the fire, shuffling his or her feet in a most peculiar way and looking like he or she might topple over at any moment, would know that Terri was sleepwalking. It was something that only happened to him or her while out in the woods. Never at home or anything like that. Terri’s eyes were glazed over, fresh drool joining its crusted-over brethren at the corners of his or her mouth and chin. Shuffling, shuffling, turning and shuffling, twisting and turning around the two men sleeping in more conventional fashion around the waning fire.

    This is a maze.

    This is not a maze.

    Terri never hit or jostled the other men, but continued to shuffle his or her feet in a dancing twisting fashion away from the fire and into the woods.

    When the dust cleared and the sun rose, anyone with a stepladder or high vantage point could read the clear words spelled out by the unconsciously shuffled footsteps in the dirt:

    My name is Jack.

  21. Very nicely done, Rabbit. My interpretation, though, was that Terri was the absent fourth figure of the party. Where does that leave us?

  22. Have you ever noticed that Jack and Terri are never in the same room at the same time?

    Like ever?

  23. Capped off by Rabbit — and I think we finally know what Physical Graffiti means.

    Postscript — for whatever it’s worth, Terri was my favorite third wheel to Jack and Janet.

  24. Three’s Company. Nicely done, Elk. And not a bad alternative title. I’d ask you if you didn’t set that up if I didn’t know better.

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