The Nonsense Room: Origin and Outcome
“Writing is nothing more than a guided dream.” — Jorge Luis Borges
1 January 1993
Story Idea: The Nonsense Room
Scientist invents room where nothing makes any sense — everything is irrational. In the beginning it is amusing. But his wife doesn’t like it when he goes “in there.” (“Don’t go in there so much.”)
One day he leaves through the window (or by some other means) and he discovers a whole nonsense world. When he can’t find his way back, he goes mad. (Or house catches fire? He’s stuck.)
5 January 1993
Enthused by progress I have made in the development of new story The Nonsense Room, a variation of Bradbury’s The Veldt and Borges’ Book of Sand. Nothing captivates the imagination like the crafting of a story.
This weekend (December 2019) I’ve been reading one of my journals from the early 90s (October 92 →April 94) This segment in my life seems to be a period in which I was generating numerous story concepts and following through with many of them.
Shortly after the new year I would be diverted, first by becoming an extra in a Disney film (Iron Will), then by pitching a movie concept and getting a go ahead. Just days after that occurred I received/accepted a book assignment. My short story season was quickly pushed to a back burner.
Eventually I picked up the thread on The Nonsense Room and completed something interesting. Here’s the beginning, with a link to the rest of the story at the end of this introductory scene. You can compare the outcome with my journal notes.
The Nonsense Room
“Greg, I don’t want you going in there tonight.”
“I mean it. It’s starting to -”
“It’s making me different somehow?”
“I didn’t say that.”
“But you’d like to say that. The room is changing me and you don’t like it, is that it?”
“I’m scared, Greg.”
He put his arm over her shoulders. “There, there.”
“It’s just a room,” he wanted to say, but he knew it was more than that. He had discovered a world, a strange world, and he was fascinated by it, wanted to understand what made it work.
“It’s not just a room,” she said.
“Did I say it was ‘just a room’?” he replied, startled.
“You were thinking it.”
As he turned away from her and stalked down the hall he had a thought, brief but vivid, that his relationship to this room would lead to a reckoning; but the thought slid away from him and escaped from his consciousness so that he was unable to retrieve it and could only hear in his mind the hollowness of the false comfort he offered while feigning paternalistic concern, saying, “There, there.”
“Greg!” his wife cried as he twisted the handle to the Nonsense Room, but he disregarded her and went in. He was not interested in having his life constricted by his wife’s fears and he was baffled by their intensity. Eyes flaming, Leslie fell to the sofa and lit a cigaret.
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