Yes, eventually, you will get lost exploring this piece of research, and that is okay. This labyrinth was designed with that intention too. Otherwise, what would be the point of a device like this one? Nevertheless, there is more than just a didactic reading-experience behind the usage of a labyrinthine structure for constructing this piece of research. More than a stylistic resource or a bombastic metaphor, the idea of creating this labyrinth was to emulate the world outside. Particularly a bounded portion of that world that we have known as Times Square.
And it could not be in a different way. To talk about Times Square is to point to a multiplicity, a complex amalgam of different things, paths, and trajectories happening together in the same geographical space. As an ethnographer doing fieldwork in that location, I continually faced different mobile paths being expanded as rhizomes, different material and semiotic structures happening simultaneously. I had to pay attention to many things, but also I had to discard many more.
At the beginning of my work, to be lost was an issue that was not just affecting the way how I was doing fieldwork but my patience and nerves too. I was constantly asking myself, “how supposedly will I be able to find something in Times Square if I am constantly lost?” But then, I understood that getting lost is an essential step to face life outside. The reason is that what is happening in the streets is not happening linearly. Life outside is not a sum of events organized, as we use to present them, in a structured and chronological way.
That linear structure is just an invention, a resource we use to try to organize that chaotic multiplicity we see over there. And despite breaking that linearity at the end is not possible —this is because it does not matter how complex, rhizomatic, and multiple a structure is proposed, a traditional linear way usually shapes its components— the description and representation of multiplicities should be multiple, simultaneous, and chaotic as well.
From my perspective, at the moment of doing ethnography is insufficient to say that, for example, something is “multiple,” ‘big,” complex,” “empty,” or “small.” One should be able to show that. Yes, it is more challenging. Yes, it may be more demanding. Yes, for sure, it would take more time, but it will be worth it because our descriptions will be richer, more precise, and accurate.
Nevertheless, that proposed way of representing the world outside is going in multiple directions by challenging the ethnographer and its readers. It is not just about producing knowledge but also about accessing it. In the case of this work on Times Square, to get lost is more than a problem, a possibility for exploring new paths, for making connections, for constructing new versions of this work. There is not a unique way of going through this work. There are multiple plots, routes, and passages here. Do not be afraid of getting lost. On the opposite, enjoy it.