… on approaching the city (which we had been glimpsing for many days across the salt-laden desert) it seemed as though something in our perspectives was altering, and what had appeared human-shaped, human-sized, anthropomorphic, anthropocene, was on longer quite that. The portals, the pillars, the very shapes of the walls, which admittedly had seemed to float and shimmer before our eyes like a heat mirage, now seemed to grow unexpectedly larger. Our mules would rear and start and flare unexpectedly as though all their precedents were affronted; and we were afflicted with insects which glared at us but did us no harm. When we finally drew up (some of us were lagging by this time) before the ‘fatal gates’ (I no longer remember how we had come to call them that) we seemed seized with an unspeakable languor; tired as we were with raising our heads to grasp these ever-receding lintels, exhausted as we then became with reading the liminal inscriptions over which, it seemed, we would have to pass were we ever to …

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