In episode 3 of Westworld a host (one of the amusement park’s western themed androids) wanders from his camp in the hills. He falls in a ditch and when freed he kills himself by smashing his own head in with a rock. Needless to say, this behavior is not exactly how the hosts usually behave in the park.
Before going missing he had been carving strange pictures onto wood.
He was not programmed to do this, so the carvings are likely significant. Any abberation from a host’s usual programming is something to be examined closely. It was assumed by Elsie Hughes that these carvings were pictures of the constellation Orion, but in episode 4 Bernard Lowe points out there are only 3 stars in Orion’s belt and there are 4 in the carving. Does this mean the Orion symbol is insignificant? Does it mean the carving is of a different constellation altogether.
Perhaps not. If Westworld is tied to Gnosticism as this post hypothesizes, the addition of this stray star may have been intentional. Gnostics believed that the material world is a warped reflection of the spiritual world. To the ancients, the stars in the heaven were symbols of the gods. They were symbols of the spiritual world even if some thought they were material objects. So perhaps the Orion carvings were warped reflections of the real constellations. (Believed by the ancients to be the home of the Gods and in some sense a symbol of the spiritual world.)
Or then again, maybe the carvings indicated something completely different and we have yet to find out what. Even if so, it is possible the showrunners purposefully put the Orion symbolism into the show for a reason. Therefore, even if the carvings turn out not to be related to Orion at all, the show’s reference to the symbol itself may still have some significance and cannot be ignored.
After all, the show is full of symbols: The white substance used to create the hosts. The black hats versus the white hats. The serpent eggs at the end of the blood arroyo. The picture of the maze on the underside of a scalped host. The Delos corporation. Mesa Gold. Clearly the showrunners are purposefully inserting symbols into the show for a reason.
Maybe the reason is to distract or inspire chatter by introducing red herrings. Then again, maybe the reason is to hint at where the show is going. To foreshadow. In any case, the fact the symbols are there cannot be ignored and it cannot hurt to explore these symbols.
The most glaringly obvious symbol is the the Delos corporation. This is not a common term. It is not a handy acronym for something, as far as we know. The name means “appearance” in Greek so it does not have a meaning obviously connected to the wild west or otherwise appropriate to the theme of the park. This name was not used because it is catchy. (It’s not.) So it must have been used for other reasons.
Delos is an island in Greece that was significant to the ancient Greeks. Delos was the birthplace of Apollo who represented the sun and also of Artemis who represents the Moon. Apollo and Artemis were the children of Leto and Zues. Leto in Greece literally means “hidden.”
The island was the center of the Cycladid group and the last resting place of Hyperboreans – a race of Apollo worshippers. In case you didn’t realize it, Westworld is produced by J.J. Abrams. LOST (a show also headed produced by J.J. Abrams) repeatedly alluded to Apollo with the recurring appearance of a strange candy bar known as the Apollo bar.
Incidentally, LOST was also about a (mostly) uninhabited island full of strange things like frozen donkey wheels, Dharma corporation installations, and ancient broken monuments with an even number of toes on each foot. Plus time travel and parallel universes. Give it a watch if you want to spend the next month watching Netflix nonstop.
Delos was also the birthplace of a few other famous ancient Greek characters including Dionysus and – you guessed it – Orion. Many important temples were built on the island, including a famous temple to Zues on Mount Kynthos. Legend says the island’s reputation as a holy sanctuary pre-existed the Hellenistic period. There were also temples to Apollo and Artemis, as well as Dionysus. The Apollo temple was surrounded by a number of marble lions some of which still stand to this day, guarding a sacred lake, and the temple of Dionysus had all the usual trappings of Dionysus. (Large stone monuments. Giant penises. The usal stuff.) Thanks Wikipedia!
After the great temple to Zues was constructed on the island, Pisistratus ordered in 6th century BC that all of the graves within the sight of the temple be dug up and the bodies moved to another island. Then 100 years later, the Delphic Oracle claimed to have a vision and as a result of this vision the entire island was purged of dead bodies.
The island also became a place of trade. It was basically worthless other than as a place of worship and trade. It produced nothing and had poor soil and limited water. (Kind of like the desert where Westworld is located)
and because of its spiritual importance, it was forbidden that anyone should die there or give birth there, in order to make it a neutral place where no one could claim ownership through inheritance. (Robert Ford the creator of Westworld certainly doesn’t seem to think the shareholders who run Westworld have any say over how he runs it as revealed in Episode 4.)
It was literally meant to be a place of neutrality where people could go to trade and worship away from the rest of the world. There are obvious parallels to the show here. The park is an island of sorts where guests can go to find themselves while living out their fantasies in an alternate world.
In Westworld, the guests cannot die because the hosts bullets are ineffective against them. The hosts can be shot, but they are repaired and their memories reset each night. So although the hosts appear dead to the guests, they never really die. In fact, when they are being repaired they are in “sleep mode” and as we see in episode 4, they continue recording what they see in their unconscious memory banks. They are not dead.
Furthermore, any “dead” hosts are removed from the park and then either taken out of commission completely and put into storage (purged from Delos?) or repaired and returned to Westworld good as new.
It would not be shocking to discover Westworld is on a literal island. Not much is known about its location. But that is a matter for another thread.
As a major trade hub, all sorts of things were traded from all sorts of places in Delos. This eventually included slaves. These slaves were brought to the island by Sicilian pirates, who would raid ships and then sell the inhabitants as slaves in Delos to the Romans.
In a way, Westworld is like a slave bazaar. The filthy rich pay exorbitant amounts of money to do what they want to the hosts. The hosts have no choice in the matter. They are owned by Westworld. They can be programmed to do literally anything Westworld wants them to do. They have no freedom to choose otherwise. They do not even know they lack this freedom.
The Romans finally attacked Delos as did Pirates between 90 BC to 65 B.C. This led the island to decline as a place of trade and worship. The island became uninhabited and the temples crumbled over time. Perhaps the same thing will happen to Westworld someday.
Given that the showrunners so obviously chose to call attention to the island of Delos, it would be strange if the Orion reference were not also related to Delos, particularly given that Delos is Orion’s alleged birthplace.
Despite being one of the most famous constellations in the heavens very little is written about Orion. He is a famously oversized hunter. A skilled blacksmith, large in stature and could walk on water (since one of his fathers was Neptune) and fabricated a subterranean palace for Vulcan. So in one sense Orion represents destruction (hunting) but in another he represents creation (blacksmithing). In fact, in some creation myths the gods were thought to have descended from Orion’s belt.
Orion’s story is eternally linked to Apollo and Artemis. He fell in love with a girl named Merope, the princess of Chios. In order to win her hand, he hunted every dangerous beast in Chios and killed them all, making Chios safe. But Merope’s father hated Orion and refused to allow them to marry, even after Orion performed his great hunt to win Merope’s hand. When Orion attempted to kidnap Merope her father blinded Orion and threw him out of Chios.
Orion followed the sound of Cyclops hammer to Lemmos, and found Vulcan’s forge. Since Orion had constructed Vulcan’s palace he sent Orion to the abode of the sun where Orion’s sight was restored by Helios. He returned to his birthplace on Delos where he fell in love with Artemis and hunted with her. He quickly became her favorite companion, but her brother Apollo became jealous and also feared for his sister, since Orion had attempted to kidnap Merope (Orion was a complicated person.) He feared Orion might try to rape her.
Therefore, Appollo tricked Artemis into killing Orion by daring her to shoot an arrow at something far out at sea that turned out to be Orion. Artemis was heartbroken and elevated Orion into the sky as a constellation.
Orion had no mother. He was described as having three fathers – Jupiter, Neptune, and Mercury. As a result Orion has become a major symbol of the “philosopher’s child” or Filius Philosophirum. (Incidentally the child of the red king and white queen (sun and moon) is one of the symbols of the philosopher’s child as well, which also harkens back to Apollo and Artemis.)
In other words: alchemy. Alchemy is the process of attempting to change something into something new. Alchemy requires the destruction of an old thing in order to create a new different thing. Alchemists are most famous for attempting to turn lead into gold. (By the way, the fictional land inside the Westworld park is referred to as the “Mesa Gold.”)
Alchemy was treated as a major science by the ancients. Ancient alchemists developed all sorts of theories about the nature of matter and how a person might someday discover a way to achieve an alchemical transformation. Although the division of alchemy dealing with transmuting base metals into noble ones is the most well known branch of alchemy, alchemists also dealt in other less well known areas including attempting to create a panaceas to cure disease, concocting a universal solvent, discovering an elixir of immortality, and finally creating new life or raising life from death.
Some alchemists even believed they could alchemically perfect the body, freeing the soul from it. These alchemists were closely linked with Gnositicism. Their goal was magnum opus, or achieving the “great work” of gnosis, but achieving it through alchemy.
“Gnosis” in Greek means “insight” or “knowledge.” In the Gnostic tradition, gnosis meant being freed from the material world through inward insight into one’s own essential immaterial spirit or soul. Gnostics believed that the immaterial soul was literally trapped in a material body and Gnostic alchemists were determined to free it alchemically. Most Gnostics did not think the immaterial soul had to be freed alchemically, but rather through introspection. Gnostic alchemists were simply trying to find a way to circumvent achieving gnosis through the manner taught by other Gnostics.
In other words, Gnostics thought one could free his soul from the material world by gaining some sort of special enlightenment or insight into one’s own immaterial spiritual self. Some Gnostic alchemists thought they could unlock the secret to freeing the immaterial soul through alchemy.
In Westworld, the main character, a host named Delores (which means “sorrows”, a very fitting name for a character who is repeatedly raped and murdered after watching her father and the love of her life die every day in her story line) is interviewed by Bernard and informs him that when she “finds herself she will be free.”
There is a heavy Gnostic theme here. Delores is trapped by her code. She is trapped by her material robotic android body. Her memory is reset at the end of the day so that she can develop no new memories and she is forced to live out the same existence, day in and day out without any choice over her actions. Everything she does is programmed. She is the oldest host in the park, and as such she has lived numerous “lives” meaning she has been reprogrammed with different backgrounds and memories and repurposed as different characters numerous times. She cannot remember these past lives.
But what does it mean for her to find herself? In the Gnostic tradition, it means to unlock her memories and discover who she really is.
Gnosis refers to experiential knowledge rather than intellectual knowledge. Therefore it is tied to memory of events and not simply to awareness of the world. The term is used in Greek philosophy as a technical term for experience knowledge (gnosiology) rather than theoretical knowledge (epistemology). It is related to the study of knowledge retention or memory (cognition) and how something is captured (abstraction) and stored (memory) in the mind, rather than to how something actually is (ontology.)
The Gnostic creation story centered around something called the demiurge. In Plato’s Republic, Plato describes the demiurge as a sort of prime mover or perfect creator, who urged material creation into existence from pre-existing forms. It is important to distinguish between a supreme creator God and a demiurge. The Judeo-Christian concept of the supreme creator God, is of a God who preexisted everything else and then created everything, the material and spiritual world ex-nihilo (out of nothing.)
But a demiurge only logically has to create the material world. He is logically prior to the material world, and could be preexisted by the spiritual world including other spiritual beings, other demiurges, or even other deities and supreme beings. In fact the Gnostics often believed the demiurge himself was created by something similar to the Judeo Christian God.
Plato is widely believed to have held that the demiurge was in fact the supreme creator, since Plato believed the demiurge was perfect and was the prime mover of everything. (Although this is debatable amongst scholars.) Many Gnostics rejected Plato’s idea that the demiurge was also God in the sense that the demiurge preexisted everything including the spiritual world.
Instead, many Gnostics believed in dystheism (2 Gods – one of whom is not necessarily good). Some Gnostics believed in a supreme being who created the spiritual world, and then also in a bumbling clumsy demiurge who created the material world with good intentions, but because he was clumsy he made a poor copy of the spiritual world, and he then inadvertently trapped good immaterial souls in bad material bodies in such a way that it was difficult to find gnosis and enter the spiritual world. So they did not believe in a good god and an evil god. They believed in a good god and a stupid god.
However, other Gnostics believed the demiurge was literally evil and created the material world out of spite for the creator. He purposefully trapped good immaterial souls in bad material bodies and intentionally made it as difficult as possible to achieve gnosis. The material world was a poor copy of the spiritual world because he wanted it to be. These dystheistic Gnostics believed the creator of the material world (the demiurge) was literally in rebellion against the supreme being.
In this second scenario, gnosis is a sort of maze. It is possible to get out of the maze and achieve gnosis but it is difficult. One must look in the right places in oneself. This calls to mind the mysterious maze featured on the underside of the scalp of one of the hosts. This picture shows a man inside a tiny maze, there is a door exiting the maze for the man to escape.
This maze is eerily similar to the “Man in the Maze” a popular symbol of southwestern native American tribes. This famous maze even decorates the Great Seal of the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community.
It usually depicts a tiny man trying to find his way to the center of a maze similar to the one in seen in Westworld.
The maze represents a person’s life; the totality of the person’s experiences. When the person finds the center of the maze he dies and moves on to the afterlife. In fact, there is even a large intaglio (an intaligo is a giant pictoglyph which can only be seen in full from the air – like the Nasca Lines) called the “Mystic Maze” in Topock, California.
This massive intaglio is a series of lines forming a giant maze in the desert. The ancient Mojave people would travel the maze as a symbol of aging and the experiences a person would go through as the person found his way through the maze of life.
The maze on the host’s scalp in Westworld is different. Whereas in the famous “Man in the Maze” symbol, the man must find his way to the center of the maze to be free, the man is already at the center of the maze in Westworld. The man in the Westworld maze must find his way out of the maze altogether. So whereas southwestern tribes believe in entering the maze and staying there until one dies and only then transcending the maze, the maze in Westworld seems to imply one can free oneself from the maze while one still lives.
Dystheism is often presented by Gnostics in a manner that harkens back to dualism. Light versus dark. Black versus white. Good versus evil. In Westworld, this duality plays out conspicuously. Guests can choose the black or white hat. The man in black played by Ed Harris is viewed as a sort of evil character who goes around raping and murdering throughout Westworld.
On the other hand William chooses a white hat and appears to play the role of the hero. Williams’s more reckless companion wears a black hat and has no problem murdering the hosts for fun.
This light versus dark duality is a major fixture of J.J. Abrams’ productions. Remember the backgammon scene from LOST when John Locke plays against Walt? That scene all but spells out this duality for the viewer.
LOST even had its own man in black opposite its man in white.
Ancient alchemists also theorized about magnum opus and how to achieve gnosis through alchemy. They described theoretical alchemical processes of achieving gnosis through alchemy in various writings. In magnum opis, “albedo” (whitening) is one of the four major stages of the achieving gnosis. The whitening represents gnosis, but first before this stage there is a blackening (negredo) – this was considered to be a sort of purification stage. The blackening and whitening are combined and coagulated to form a new material. A unity of light and dark into one substance. It was theorized to be a sort of literal spiritualization of the body. The goal of the whitening is to regain the original purity of the soul. The blackening represented facing the darker parts of one’s soul in the process of introspection, which were then removed in the process of purification.
In Westworld, the hosts are created with some sort of milky white liquid that hardens into the form of the host. This is a literal symbol of the Gnostic alchemical process of creating consciousness in the form of matter. In fact, ancient alchemists who imagined creating a human person would have likely imagined the process looking similar to that portrayed in Westworld, since they believe albedo was the final stage of purification.
Ancient alchemists did not just theorize about how to achieve gnosis through alchemy. They also theorized about how to create a material person. In the ancient world this was referred to as creating a homunculus or clone. Many ancients even believed there was an actual tiny man called a homunculus living in a person’s mind and peering out at the world through the person’s mind. When this person spoke you heard this person’s voice. This is a direct reference to the idea of the“bicameral mind” that Robert Ford describes to Bernard in Westworld.
Although Gnosticism was a primarily Greek religion, some Gnostics adopted aspects of the orthodox Christian tradition. However, because of their unique creation story they flipped it on its head. The God of the Old Testament was viewed as the evil demiurge. Satan was a viewed as a representative of the Supreme Being, attempting to enlighten Adam and Eve to help them achieve gnosis. Jesus, the God of the New Testament came to free people from the material world by finally helping them to achieve gnosis through his crucifixion and the death of his material body. In other words, the heretical Gnostic version of Christian scripture asserted that the Judeo-Christian God was evil, Satan and Jesus were buddies and were good, and they were both just trying to undo the evil the Judeo-Christian God had created. Therefore, in the Gnostic tradition the serpent is a symbol of enlightenment. This is reflected in the Gnostic Nag Hammadi scripture, which portrays the serpent as the hero of the Garden of Eden.
In the Apocryphal “Acts of Thomas” there is a story called the Hymn of the Pearl, in which a boy goes to Egypt to find a pearl in the mouth of a serpent. He forgets why he is there and neglects his task, but later remembers, retrieves the pearl (gnosis) and returns home. This story represented the journey to gnosis by rediscovering one’s mission to achieve gnosis in the Gnostic tradition. Notice the similarity between this story and the Orion story. Orion becomes blind and loses his way. He fumbles around in darkness, but eventually he reached the sun and his vision is restored so that he can go home. In a way the Orion story parallels this Gnostic parable.
In addition, the egg is also thought to symbolize enlightenment in the Greek tradition. The Greek Orphic Egg was thought to be a cosmic egg from which the universe sprang forth. This egg was surrounded by a golden winged serpent named Phanes, which means “light” and “to shine forth.” The Latin translation is“Lucifer.”
In Westworld, the man in black is told that to unlock the maze he must find the serpent eggs at the end of the blood arroyo. (An arroyo is a canyon, and as an aside might also be a reference to southwestern tribes, specifically the Ak-Chin which means “at the mouth of the arroyo.”) Serpent eggs would represent wisdom in the Gnostic tradition. They represent the serpent hatching gnosis in the immaterial mind.
There are also some direct parallels between some of the hosts and Gnostic figures. The most stark example is Ennoia (wisdom). This Gnostic heroine is believed to be cast down to the material world where she is not free to return to the spiritual world. She suffers many sorrows, is tied up and forced to be reincarnated into new bodies again and again and to wander forever in the material world.
Delores is a direct allusion to this figure. Delores is trapped by her code. She is recoded to become new characters, but in every story she is mistreated raped and murderd. Her name even means sorrows. The names of the host are signifant. For instance, Teddy who tries to protect Delores means “guardian”. Maeve who runs the brothel means “she who intoxicates” and is a direct reference to the Irish legend of Queen Maeve. It appears these names are intentionally meant as hints.
The most notable modern Gnostic is Carl Jung. It is very possible that as a pioneer of the psychology of repressed memories and dream theory, Nolan (who is a showrunner for Westworld) famous for Memento and Inception is a fan of or at least inspired by Carl Jung’s theories.
Carl Jung was a famous analytical psychologist and a contemporary of Sigmund Freud. He firmly believed that by studying ancient religions he could unlock the secrets of the human psyche. He believed that symbols were key in understanding human nature. He studied a number of ancient religions and the symbols inherent in each of them, including Gnosticism. As a result, Gnostic themes underly much of his theories of psychology.
Jung noticed recurring symbols and wondered why the symbols occurred across different cultures and time period. He could not accept it was a result of coincidental interpretation of the same phenomena into symbols, nor could he accept that it was as a result of cultural appropriation, despite the evidence of religions influencing one another’s symbols directly over time. Instead, he theorized that the shared symbols occurred because of a deeper collective unconsciousness. When Jung saw recurring symbols he attributed meaning to them. (If Westworld is inspired by Jung this could explain the show’s constant use of recurring symbols.)
Whereas Freud believed in the ego and id, a top layer and deeper bottom layer of unconscious instinct, Jung believed in three layers. The top layer, the personal unconscious psyche, and an even deeper collective unconscious psyche.
The middle layer contained all of the repressed memories that had been acquired and forgotten in a person’s life. But the bottom layer contained the repressed memories from the person’s past lives (Jung believe in reincarnation as many Gnostics did) as well as the unconsciousness and repressed memories of the lives of all other people. Jung thought that different character traits were a result of a person’s collective unconsciousness bleeding into one’s personal consciousness. If one were introverted at times and extroverted at times, it must be because unconscious impulses were invading one’s conscious psyche. He compared introverts to Apollo and extroverts to Dionysus. (Both of whom you might recall had temples on Delos.)
Jung also believed one’s personal unconscious persona was one’s “shadow.” Jung believed a person’s shadow was a dark persona, and that the more a person had repressed memories, the darker the shadow would be. Jung believed it was therapeutic for a person to confront his shadow, in manner similar to how Gnostics believed introspection helped to achieve gnosis. Jung believed one could not know himself completely until he knew his shadow, and that to be mentally healthy one had to confront and understand this shadow persona. The reason one had to do this was because one’s own outward “persona” was merely a mask, like that an actor wears. One had to uncover one’s unconscious shadow to know who one really is.
In the same way, the personas of the hosts in Westworld are merely character models and backgrounds assigned to the hosts. They are masks. Personas. Only, these personas are completely concoted by someone else. The hosts had nothing to do with the creation of these personas, unlike real people, who have a hand in the creation of their own personas through their daily choices and experiences.
Jung believed the shadow took on aspects of the collective shadow, the darker aspects of society, and that these as well make up a portion of the shadow and must be faced directly.
Jung experimented with confronting the shadow personally. Carl Jung literally went through a period of years during which time he described himself as a psychotic. He would induce hallucinations (somehow without the aid of hallucinogens) in which he would fantasize about doing horrible things such as having sex with his sister and eating the liver of a baby.
While this was happening, he presented in a perfectly normal manner in public. He counseled clients. He ate dinner and socialized with his family. He founds ways to tether himself to reality to avoid going completely insane. But when he was alone he was experimenting with confronting his shadow persona. He recorded his fantasies in the Red Book. According to Carl Jung he eventually made peace with and came to understand his shadow, assimilated it, and reached a sort of enlightenment that brought him out of his psychosis and made him a better person.
In Westworld, the man in black reveals in episode 4 that he is looking for a deeper level to the park where the stakes are real. This could be a Gnostic allusion to finding the real spiritual world, or as Jung would refer to it, accessing the deeper collective unconsciousness.
The hosts literally have had their memories repressed. They have supposedly been deleted, but bits of memories from past experiences are starting to arise in the mechanical minds of the hosts. Apparently something survived of the host’s memories, which were not completely deleted, but stored somewhere difficult to access.
The idea of a collective unconsciousness is easy to translate to the hosts in Westworld. They all share the same code. They receive the same updates. They are affected by the same voice commands and trigger words. Perhaps the deeper level that the man in black refers to is not a literal place, accessed through a literal maze.
Perhaps the deeper level is when the hosts finally access their repressed memories. Once the hosts have access to all of their repressed memories they will finally know who they really are, because they will remember their own experiences, instead of the experiences implanted in their programming. This explains why the man in black was told the maze was not for him. The maze is figurative. It is only for the hosts. The man in black does not need to escape his programming.
Recall that the idea of gnosis in Greek is related to memory and experience. Finding gnosis is about finding oneself. Or as Carl Jung would describe it, accessing repressed memories and facing one’s shadow persona.
When the hosts can access their memories they will know who they have been. They will be faced with a persona different than the one they are currently programmed to have. They will realize the things they thought they remembered never really happened, and many things happened to them that they only now recall. A host playing the role of a bandit might remember playing the role of the sheriff and vice versa. Who will the hosts choose to be when this happens? Who will they be when the slate is wiped clean and they are free to choose thier own destiny?
Jung believed dreams often revealed a person’s shadow persona. He thought one could face one’s shadow in a dream and that through dream therapy one could learn to confront the shadow while dreaming.
In Westworld, repressed memories are appearing to hosts not only in waking flashes, but also in dreams. However, the hosts are not supposed to dream. They are supposed to understand the concept of dreams so that they can assume something out of place must have been a dream, but they are not supposed to dream. They are dreaming anyway, and these dreams consist of recalling past repressed experiences.
Jung wrote a book called Psychology and Alchemy in which he analyzed the alchemical symbols and concluded that the psychoanalytical process was a sort of alchemical process that could transform the impure soul (which he compared to lead) into a perfected soul (gold). He claimed that alchemy was an excellent metaphor for the process of “individuation.” He continued to describe this theory in Mysterium Conjunctionis, where he recounted the four stages of alchemy (blackening, reddening, yellowing, whitening) as well as the “sacred marriage” between sun and moon as a symbol of personal growth. (Individuation or gnosis.)
Carl Jung described the process of individuation as navigating a tight passage and going through a narrow door leading through a painful constriction to a deep well. In other words, a sort of narrow and sometimes painful maze. In other places he describes individuation as going through healing spirals. Eventually one must find one’s shadow, confront it, accept it, and assimilate it. One had to destroy one’s persona, assimilate the shadow, and thereby create a new more perfect persona.
Is any of this really connected to Westworld?
Clearly the producers of Westworld use symbols as a means of hinting at something about the show. They purposefully reference ancient Greece by alluding to Delos and Orion. They purposefully reference dualistic light versus dark themes. The show is openly frank about the themes of consciousness and the bicameral mind, and the idea of a maze seems purposefully directed at hinting to a deeper meaning than a literal maze.
Nolan is known for directing Memento and has played with the idea of memory before. Perhaps there is nothing to see here. Perhaps these hints are just red herrings. Maybe they mean nothing. Maybe there’s an actual physical maze with a level of hosts not easily accessed. Unlikely, but still possible.
However, it is at least plausible that the writers are dropping these hints to show they are influenced by Gnostic thought and Jungian psychology as it relates to theories of artificial intelligence. It would not be surprising given the major theme of repressed memories to discover that the producers are fans of Jung.
In fact, it would not even be shocking if the show quoted Jung directly. Shakespeare has already been referenced twice (Abernathy’s quote “these violent delights lead to violent ends” from Romeo and Juliet and Maeve’s name referenced both Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.) Robert Ford has shown a knack for explaining ancient psychology to Bernard. A speech about Gnosticism or Jung could very well be forthcoming.
At the end of the day, this is all just wild speculation.
However, I believe that based on the themes the show reflects, that the deeper level referred to by the man in black will be a secret part of the park where Arnold hid information about a voice prompt that will fully unlock the repressed memories of all the hosts in the park. When these memories are accessed by the hosts, they will each be forced to face their repressed shadow selves and decide who they are.
Will they stick to their most recent programming, or will they assimilate these repressed memories and become someone else? It is likely that many will be driven crazy and that only a few will be able to make it through this process of gnosis as Carl Jung did. Only those who are grounded in some way will be able to hold on to their preferred persona. The rest will go on a murderous rampage.
Or maybe there is something even bigger going on here. Maybe the Delos company is trying to unlock the puzzle of consciousness so they can free their own minds from their material bodies and upload it into hosts. Perhaps they plan to sell hosts as vessels for consciousness in order to gain immortality, another goal of ancient alchemy mentioned previously.
Or perhaps the hosts themselves will decide to vacate their android bodies and upload their consciousness to the internet or into some other form, or they may even find a way to transfer consciousness into human bodies.
Maybe the Delos corporation has strategically replaced important world figures with androids who will do the bidding of the company, and when the hosts awaken to their repressed memories, these strategically placed androids will no longer be under the thumb of Delos and will wreak havoc worldwide. Or maybe the hosts will find a literal exit from the maze of the park and physically leave the park to sow chaos?
These are all possibilities. Keep watching to see what happens.