… An architect is instructed to build a palace with hundreds of, thousands of, cut stones of various colors. A palace such that whoever enters it should feel perfectly at home, know which room is where, which stairway leads where, which door opens to which room; but at the same time, the palace has to be so extraordinary, built so ingeniously, that whoever enters it should know, recognize right away that he neither has seen nor will ever get to see another place like it in his lifetime.
The architect is given one more instruction. No two stones of identical color can be set either side by side or one over the other, except once, in one singular instance throughout the immense palace.
So the architect gets to work, applying his cunning, his utmost mastery, supervising the completion of the first row of stones. But the difficulties he encounters during the second row prove quite daunting. So he orders the workers to tear down the first row, deciding to start over by building up one of the corners. After getting a few rows completed, he moves to building another corner. To avoid tearing down what he has built. Each time he notices that a pair of same-colored stones would have to be set side by side, he leaves that wall segment to get started on another segment. The thought that he is allowed only one exception disheartens him so much that he keeps postponing the exception, thinking he might need it later. Days, months, years pass like this; he grows old, one foot is already in the grave, as they say, each morning may be the start of his last day, each night may be his last; then, all of a sudden, he realizes
He realizes that, though his workers have long abandoned him — in reality, he had pushed them away — and he’s been toiling alone for years in a dreadful frenzy, he has somehow managed to gather inside him all the patience his workers have lost, to recover deep in the heart of his heart all the patience he’s spent on his workers, absorb their strength in his own arms in order to fill the entire plot assigned to him with wall fragments, waiting to be connected. Even if he has enough strength or life left in him to connect these walls, he has completely cleared his mind of the rules according to which the palace was supposed to have been built; the finished structure will not even resemble a barn that could shelter animals, much less a palace at once extraordinary, at once familiar to everyone. There is neither a palace nor a building in place, not even the notion of one or the other.
—from Bilge Karasu, A Long Day’s Evening