Zeitgeist

Back in January, I found myself thinking about Labyrinth. It came up when S and I were having lunch with friends. Then I linked to a photo from the movie in an otherwise unrelated post. On FB, a friend reported having Netflixed it, and other friends chimed in with the Labyrinth love. That same weekend, S and I went to an estate sale (at which we picked up a pair of pierced porcelain lamps for 50 bucks). Guess what was in a pile of VHS tapes for sale?

I think of this as being somehow related to zeitgeist, but on a micro-level. Nabokov wrote about a similar phenomenon in Speak/Memory – the appearance of motifs in one’s life. Which isn’t to say that Labyrinth is a motif in my life per se; it’s just curious the way that it’s appeared so many times in so few months, sometimes voluntarily, sometimes not. If I was an especially spiritual person, and if the motif was something other than a dark/appealingly weird children’s fantasy film, I might be tempted to attach religious significance to its recurrence.

Of course, even when overtly religious messages arrive, I’m loathe to attach much significance to them. Case in point: yesterday I received two big ol’ Christian emails, one to my gmail, one at work. Both managed the unusual feat of bypassing spam filters. The former was an appeal to pray for three people who are going through unspecified hard times. It came from a guy in Saskatchewan and was meant for another woman who shares my name. The other one was outright spam, a load of poorly-written biblical babble about good news and salvation. I’m inclined to send good thoughts to the random people, and I already deleted the biblical babble. Having strong faith does not make up for lazy writing, people. And the biblical writer was right – he’s not “selling” anything, least of all his message.

Which brings me back to Labyrinth. Yesterday I started to watch a lecture video linked off a blog I read (the author of which has coincidentally cited Labyrinth as a specific point of inspiration for the world of her novel series). The topic of the video is creativity, and the beginning was devoted to demonstrating how adults have lost the childhood capacity to unselfconsciously leap into artistic enterprise.

I tend not to think of this as a problem for me, but in the spirit of seeking an explanation for the recurrence of Labyrinth in my life, I have arrived at the following: that in recent months I have deliberately set aside a project rooted in speculative fiction; that most of my work is realistic despite my desire to create stranger worlds; and that now I think I should not give up on creating the kind of fantastical settings that I found so arresting as a child.

Although with Labyrinth, the question does arise: was it really the fantastical setting I found so arresting, or just David Bowie’s crotchtacular costumes?

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