Midway through a hot summer's night, reading The Gnostic Gospels, I fell asleep—

There was a stench upstairs whose source I couldn't fathom. Was it from the snake, wrapped around this almost menacing perfection--for it rests on the absence of life, the visible stillness of death--appears in stones so variously that one might list all the endeavors and styles of human art and not find one without its parallel in mineral nature. There is nothing surprising about this: the investment of the landscape with rhetorical interest reflected the explorers' linguistic practice, for the language of exploration was not the language of dictionaries, but the active dialectical utterance characteristic of travelling. If the landscape was realized associatively, the crude attempts of that lost creature, man, could not cover more than a tiny part of the aesthetics of its bowl of fresh water? Even for these infernal days, the serpent seemed too languid. "It looks flat," I said, thinking it had malted. "Flat!" she laughed. "It's dead!"

a small brow of mountainous country that lies about it -- an opening of only moderate size, large enough to admit a man, but it reaches considerable depth...this space is full of a vapour so misty and dense that one can scarcely see the ground. Now to those who approach the enclosure the air is harmless, since the out- side is free from that vapour in calm weather, for the vapour then stays inside the enclosure, but any animal that passes inside meets instant death.

                          I awoke to reality, feeling bleak and wooden, settling again into samsara, the drive from which so many people die raising their combs aloft and viperous throats / scaly; and lo, their crested crowns shot flam by the roadside, the chariot was a torch, sulphur the yoke, / the pole bitumen; cypress was the wheel; / yea, poison made that bridle-bit compact, / and lead that axle, stolen from the blindness of their vision.

Last heard from a year ago, when he phoned to say that, in exchange for a painting, a patron had given him a ticket to Spain, did Paul ever return? Or, entranced by the melodies in Cantabrian caves, is he hoofing his way home as a rare reindeer?