Excerpt 13

KUBLAI: I do not know when you have had time to visit all the countries you describe to me. It seems to me you have never moved from this garden.
POLO: Everything I see and do assumes meaning in a mental space where the same calm reigns as here, the same penumbra, the same silence streaked by the rustling of leaves. At the moment when I concentrate and reflect, I find myself again, always, in this garden, at this hour of the evening, in your august presence, though I continue, without a moment’s pause, moving up the river green with crocodiles or counting barrels of salted fish being lowered into the hold.

Cities & Eyes . 5

When you have forded the river, when you have crossed the mountain pass, you suddenly find yourself in the city of Morania, its alabaster gates transparent in the sunlight, its coral columns supporting pediments encrusted with serpentine, its villas all of glass like aquariums where the shadows of dancing girls with silvery scales swim beneath the medusa-shaped chandeliers. If this is not your first journey, you already know that cities like this have an obverse: you have only to walk in a semicircle and you will come into view of Moriania’s hidden face, an expanse of rusting sheet metal, sackcloth, planks bristling with spikes, pipes black with soot, piles of tines, blind walls with fading signs, frames of staved in straw chairs, ropes good only for hanging oneself from a rotten beam.

From one part to the other, the city seems to continue, in perspective, multiplying its repertory of images: but instead it has no thickness, it consists only of a face and an obverse, like a sheet of paper, with a figure on either side, which can neither be separated nor look at each other.

Chapter 7.1 - p105

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