I once knew someone who owned a drum machine on which he had been, he claimed, programming extraordinary amounts of really great music. Being naive to the thieving ways of the world, however, this friend – or aquaintance, really, from Canada – in fact the best friend of the fiancé of my girlfriend’s sister – came home one day to find that his drum machine had been stolen.
This act of musical thievery propelled him into a state of unremitting paranoia so intense, and so interesting, that I still think about it, nearly fifteen years later.
What happened was that every time he went out to hear music – mostly at raves in New York City – he claimed that, at some point in the night, he had heard one of his own songs. Flagrantly stolen from his own stolen drum machine, then inscribed to vinyl – only to be spun, live, to the dancing masses – his music popped up at least once every few hours.
Wide-eyed, emotional, convincing: there he was, in front of us, the people who hung out with him, explaining that this song was his.
Of course, I mention all this because I wonder what the architectural equivalent would be.
Perhaps a man, or woman, who spends all of his or her time sketching strange buildings – detailing elevators that lead to elevators and hotel rooms that interconnect to secret swimming pools in which hundreds of people sit, talking – finds that his (or her) sketchbook has been stolen.
Fifteen years later, then, this person is on vacation with friends – but the hotel they’ve chosen looks awfully familiar.
It’s his building.
“I designed this goddamn thing!” he screams, rattling door handles and staring through rotating glass doors at the swimming pool. He’s sweating, veins visible, pulsing on his forehead. Everyone takes a step back. Is my cell phone charged? one thinks. Should I call 911?
“This is my hotel!” the man screams, kicking over an ice bucket.
He gets so loud his friends start to panic, eventually punching him in the face, hoping it will knock him out; it doesn’t work.
The police arrive.
Our architectural sketcher is immediately arrested. He is strapped face-down to a table and injected with horse tranquilizers.
But the thing is: he’s right. He really did design that hotel. It really did come out of his sketchbook. That swimming pool really was his idea.
Even worse: so was the building across the street – a building he’s about to see when the police release him from custody.
And those buildings downtown? He designed them, too.
He designed this whole city, see: he sketched the whole thing in his now lost book.
Except he’s the only one who knows it. Not a single one of his friends believes him. In fact, people make fun of him, call him “Charles Manson” and point out the window at different buildings as if to antagonize him. “Did you design that, too?” Everyone giggles.
Soon, old friends are writing blog entries about him.
To escape the madness, the man moves to a new city, packing his bags and buying a dog – only to realize that everything about even that new city was all his idea.
(Perhaps coming soon: Sketchbook, starring Christian Bale).