In the building where I work there is an automatic door that opens into a brick wall. I should specify that this door is not an allegory. The door that goes nowhere actually exists. I can show the door to you if you would like to see it. I was first shown the door by a beautiful musician named Joel. One day Joel came up to me after a lecture I had been giving on mason bees and said, ‘Chris, I’ve just found this door that goes nowhere.’ Joel then led me down to the bottom of P-Building. The buildings are given letters where I work, and at the bottom of P-Building Joel introduced me to the door that goes absolutely nowhere.
Ostensibly, this door is not special. It is just your ordinary expensive-looking office door. It is electric, made of glass, opens sideways, is governed by a laser, and makes a clunking humming noise when it moves. What is special about the door is that it opens straight into a flat wall of beige bricks.
When Joel showed me the door it was clear he was enthusiastic but also melancholic about his discovery.
‘Chris,’ he said, ‘I don’t know whether to cry, smash this door down, or play music about it.’
‘Joel,’ I replied, ‘what you have discovered is beautiful and you should be proud of yourself. But who would create a door that goes nowhere? Does this door even have a creator, or are we just bearing witness to some peculiar accident in this mysterious pattern of events we call our lives?’
Like Joel, I too felt the excitement of his discovery, but as he pulled out his clarinet and began to play an air of music that was sweet and melancholic, I begun to feel terribly guilty. I felt like I had cultivated a blue flower, disabled a spider, lied to Ariadne, or produced some distraught student trying but failing to encapsulate the feeling of their own depleting beauty. To allay such feelings, I took out my own notebook and set about rationally analysing the door, measuring its parameters, criticising its hypothetical creator, and establishing an itinerary of research questions to defeat the sounds now emanating from this door that goes nowhere. It was clear what I had to do. I would write an essay in order to gain control over this door that goes nowhere.
My essay, when completed, was titled:
An Analysis of the Door That Goes Nowhere.
It was a beautiful essay. All my colleagues agreed it should be published immediately. ‘Chris,’ they said, ‘we do not even need to read your paper to know how provocative and beautiful it is.’ This was also the opinion of my supervisor. She stroked his beard, ran her eye over the cover page, nodded that owlish little head and remarked, ‘Congratulations. My only suggestion is that we retitle your paper “A Collaborative Analysis of the Door That Goes Nowhere” and that we include my name on the title page’.
Sadly, Joel passed away before my essay was published. Occasionally, however, the melancholic sound of Joel’s clarinet will perfume my mind, and I will need to sneak away to the door that goes nowhere at the bottom of P-Building. Here I like to sit and laugh and cry. I wave my hands at the laser to make the door open and close into nothing, and I think about Joel and the beautiful music he once made.