Place. Write 500 words about a place or a building or a means of transport (start from a picture if you like), introduce character(s) or an incident and connect the two through one of the following pairs:
Time. Write 500 words about something in slow motion. Or … write a scene in which you link the narrower world of the character(s) with events in the wider world of a specific year. For both fiction and non-fiction, the 2020 intelligent lockdown is an option.
Exegesis (<200 words) should address the effects you envisaged & how & to what extent you have achieved them. Influences, remediation & intertextuality.
Assignment 3: Setting
Words: Exegesis 192, Setting 431
Influence for this non-fiction setting exercise comes from hearing about a book in which a man locks himself up in a room and describes every object in that room in minute detail. I wanted to take an action that is recognized by many people and convert it to a setting. In this exercise the setting is an action, but also functions as actor and is literally part of the protagonist. There is conflict (Burroway 168) between the protagonist, observing and acting, and the antagonist – the white cylinder and the caramel-turning-stale smell. I have aimed for a comedic ending which ends in connection by a decision by the protagonist (Burroway 172). The place and time in which this work operates are very restricted; of small size and duration, but generalizable to millions of people. The small timeframe was realized by describing every detail of the action. Perception of a small space was realized by using a single room as vehicle of a metaphor. The repetition in the last sentence mirrors the repetition of the antagonizing act. The title and the penultimate paragraph are set up to explicitly refer to the central theme.
Setting: True Red / US Blend
It is dark. The door opens. Through a narrow opening, light comes in. A white plastic cylinder enters. The cylinder stands in the doorpost, taking up its whole space so that it is dark again. There is a click to be heard. You know that there is light somewhere, but not here.
The space becomes open; the roof moves upwards. Even though the space becomes bigger there is a lot of tension to be felt. It is still dark. A smell and taste comparable to caramel, but lighter, can gradually be sensed near the floor and ceiling. The pleasant smell doesn’t last long; it blends with staleness within seconds.
The white cylinder leaves, leaving the door open. The open door lets in a gentle breeze. It fills the room and what happens in the room doesn’t stay in the room: the breeze leaves through the back door. The wind can’t fully replace the penetrating taste and smell, but its fresh effects are welcomed warmly.
The door hasn’t closed and yet the wind is already returning, its direction reversed. The wind makes the space feel smaller than it was at first and closes the front door behind it as it leaves. The room is shrouded in darkness again.
A few seconds of silence. The floor suddenly comes up and hits the roof, as if it was a tectonic plate converging into a mountain whose peak enters the stratosphere. Series of alternating unspecific sounds reverberate through the room. The floor returns to its original position as quickly as it left it, as if this movement was just a preparation for what’s coming in the following seconds.
What’s coming is repetition. Repetition of movement, of light entering the room and leaving the room, of fresh air coming and going. With every repetition there is more longing for the scent of caramel. However, the caramelly smell has less caramel and more blandness in it with every repetition. You wonder more and more why you’re here doing this.
Luckily, there is the anticipation for the moment when there will be only fresh wind in the room, the kind of wind inevitably felt by cattle drivers high up on their horses when they guided cattle across the prairies. You make a decision. With that decision, everything changes.
The cylinder doesn’t return, ever. Slowly, everything returns to normal. The open door lets in a gentle breeze. The wind returns to where it came from.