The Void

Shadow Lands: The Labyrinth of Death

  • TypeText
  • Time2022
  • SourceZhang Yuhang
  • TV-T-001
  • CopyrightZhang Yuhang
  • TV-T-001

My heart exceeding

my need, hesitant between two doors:

entry a joke, and exit

a labyrinth

——A Noun Sentence, Mahmoud Darwish

Bipedalism of human beings may be the work of a parasitic virus, where a neurological lesion must had preceded the emergence of consciousness. The brain's energy discharge was greatly exacerbated by this lesion, dooming it to perinatal mortality and progeria. And the recoding of the spine by the cranial nerves was the earliest practice of necropolitics, with the ensuing memory and oblivion that completed the primitive accumulation of death. This lesion, in other words, buried the earliest neural infrastructure of humanity: the labyrinth of death.

A trap or a pitfall, unlike the labyrinth, was originally conceived as a processual assembly leading to an end. In the series The Narrow Road to the Deep Sea, there still stood pitfalls laid by Lee Kai Chung, the necrotizing logistics in the never-ending war in the Pacific: refugees struggle in the cruel inertia of the traps, gradually disintegrating into eldritch creatures of the deep. The capture of life has been impleted. The labyrinth, however, never has an end or an exit. It exists after the end; its own foundations were perfused by annihilation, for the inorganic bodies that pass through it before the genesis and after the termination. This labyrinth of death is the "Shadowland" in The Shadow Lands Yonder.


Perinatal Mortality

The labyrinth, aka the earliest neural infrastructure and a post-apocalyptic construct. The seemingly contradictory definition discloses a simple fact: the apocalypse has been happening long before the advent of human being. ‘The Shadow Lands Yonder’ uses the word "shadowland" in English (instead of "neverland" corresponding to the Chinese word 虚無鄉) telling: we have been living in the end times, that is, in a labyrinth.

The filmic Matrix, in which the agricultural emigrants wander through, cancels the historiography, while the multiple drone inspections demarcate the sandbox of transcending time, the crystalline eternity, observed by Kant, parasitic to the lower spine of humanity. [1] The moorland of Manchuria was gushed by DDT. The dust and lint on the felt hats were encoded by sharpened reflections, and the wind with cholera never blow from the northern shelters, for the labyrinth is the plague itself. Day 1, the male fugitive betrays the 'futility' of their journey home. The flattened façade of the stone tower dissolves all physical properties of the fugitive action. Even the 'futility' does not occur. The frozen landscape seems a mockery – in the anaesthetic time after the end, ‘the world will be ripe for its great quietus’. [2]


The word labyrinth is derived from the Lydian word 'labry' for double-bladed axe. This coincidentally reveals the dual characters of the labyrinth. It is both a utopia and a world of the dead. Or rather, the utopia is exactly the world of the dead. [3] Every fascist understands that a true utopia can only emerge when the world is completely necrotized. The cunning of the labyrinth lies in the fact that it does not adjudicate all labour to the futility for summoning utopia. This adjudication is actually conducted by a trap. The outpost of the Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere in Manchuria serves as the infrastructure of the trap, torn between the railway of delusion and the monument undone. But the delusion - as a result of the concentration of energy in the process of cephalisation – precipitates the further degeneration of the organism. The emigrants to Manchuria were railway employees, investors, military personnel and technicians, then agrarians and craftsmen. Captured by the utopia of transcendental time, they became the decapitated 'angels of history'. Their brains move forward, but their bodies are pulled backwards in a war of infinite disintegration. As this retreat progresses to death, the labyrinth is awakened by the cadaver.

This is why the wanderers in the labyrinth of the Shadow Land have a demeanour with schizophrenic precision. Their brains are burned out by the acceleration of utopia. The labyrinthine reflex forces the bodies to perpetrate their zombie-like mechanism. Chernozem of the labyrinth hypnotises these cadavers into "scarecrows" to "ward off the crows of the north", urges them to harvest soybeans until the dew dries and, after a long hibernation, to march blindly towards their homeland. The victims of the colony are a play-back of the early experiments with computated viruses. The daughter left behind by her mother on "Day 2" is isomorphic with the mother who runs away from her son's bicycle on "Day 5" – along with the jetty polished for the arrival of the female emigrants ("Day 4")- casting the past world of the living which evokes the fever that remains in the pineal gland in.


‘Already Dead’


"Everything is already dead" – how does the labyrinth convince us of this proposition? In The Shadow Lands Yonder, what the emigrants experience is not so much going through as forgetting that he (she) is already dead. The signal noise that herds potassium cyanide is the one last time the vast logistics of black magic in the Pacific War come into play. Once these brand-new pathways were built, they forgot themselves, for only oblivion could ensure the continuation of the inorganic mechanism of death. The Jewel Voice will continue to be broadcasted into the empty mass graves,[4] while the high-voltage grid will go on to scorch the white bones. The seppuku (self-disembowelment) with no kaishakuhito (beheader) does not disclose the heat death. The labyrinth is not an accused share. A thousand cuts on the warm intestines turn time inwards at different thermodynamic speeds, while the heads above are mere spectators, forgotten by their ancestors. "Enduring what they could not, enduring what they could not", the dead drag their white bones through the labyrinth. The dead eventually forgets themselves, like the survivors of railway accidents who suffered from "railway spine" in the nineteenth century and fall back into hibernation on the "infinite train". They are transported back to the entrance of the labyrinth by the spell of the Tungus railway shaman. The end of the film also suggests this repetition: the faces of the well-dressed couple flash in confusion as they look into the labyrinth, but see nothing.

In the mythology of the O'odham, the creator, I'itoi, was the first being between heaven and earth. He created humans and civilized them. "The first gods were mad gods,"[6] and I'itoi was also the god of war and cruelty, summoning dead Papagos from the earth and hypnotising them into killing machines to create more dead. I'itoi is depicted as a god standing at the entrance to a labyrinth, a design appearing on O'odham basketry and petroglyphs. He dwells in the labyrinth of Baboquivari Peak, which is also the labyrinth of the O'odham life cycle, where the O'odham would meet their creator and their death.



[1] Thomas Moynihan, Spinal Catastrophism (Falmouth: Urbanomic Media Ltd, 2019).

[2] Edgar Saltus, The Philosophy of Disenchantment. (New York: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1885), quoted in Thomas Moynihan, Spinal Catastrophism, (Falmouth: Urbanomic Media Ltd, 2019)

[3] Jason Bahbak Mohaghegh, Omnicide Mania, Fatality, and the Future-in-Delirium (Falmouth, UK: Urbanomic Media Ltd, 2019).

[4] The Hirohito surrender broadcast (Japanese: 玉音放送,  “Jewel Voice Broadcast”) was a radio broadcast of surrender given by Japanese Emperor Hirohito (Shōwa) on August 15, 1945.

[5] Jason Bahbak Mohaghegh, Omnicide Mania, Fatality, and the Future-in-Delirium.