"Not far away on the white wall (the left-hand wall) there is a series of little lines drawn in fusain, or ordinary charcoal, or paint, very carefully at any rate, lines like those one makes to keep the score of a game, or count some operation performed over and over again: four vertical strokes with a fifth oblique stroke running through them; this figure appears four times, forming a vertical column; a fifth series, right at the bottom, has been begun but still lacks its oblique stroke. It would be more natural, if they recorded the results of the card games, for such markings to appear on the opposite wall. They may instead have to do with the days of sentence (or months, or years) served by one of the prisoners, or with particular fatigues or punishments, or with visits expected or with no matter what."
"...The sacrificial altar is hidden inside the sinister pentastyle shrine. No, this architectural model is really too improbable; so is the ruined column, the remains of which would be defying the elementary laws of gravity. What there is outside is simply a lot of streets, the streets of a city that has been three parts destroyed, but a modern city, or at least one where the buildings were not more than a century old at most. All the houses, which were originally about four to five stories high, have partially collapsed, and not a single habitable block appears to have been left standing. Now there are only pieces of wall forming freakish shapes, nearly intact facades with nothing behind them, their gaping window recesses opening onto nothing but blue sky or other pieces of wall, and finally fragments of a number of public monuments adorned with figures in stone and bronze that now, though still stately, show only mutilated limbs sketching absent gestures."
"...Unfortunately this area is, to tell the truth, usually absent, like a sort of blank, uncharted space (from the trapdoor, no doubt half-open, to the model's crotch, where her slightly parted thighs form a cradle for her hand), so that the precise meaning of the gestures and objects located in it is not clearly discernible, apparently because of the narrator's head coming right in front, its thick curly hair obscuring the view. In particular this black mass completely hides the red pool on the ground, which is growing steadily larger, creeping closer and closer to the large white pebble, rounded and smooth, posed axially one of the lines between the floorboards."
"The ancient city of Vanadium was destroyed in 39 B.C. by the last eruption of the volcano. Legend tells how a sharp stone, expelled by the crater that was thought to have been long extinct, first fell on the triangular plaza people still trace admiringly in the center of the city, mortally wounding a girl who fraudulently bore the name of the goddess Vanadis. The stone was marked with an incision that looked like two nails joined by their points to form an angle of approximately thirty degrees."
"isosceles volcano on the line of the horizon
as at the summit of the vee of the legs the eye
black on white on the piercing blue of the sky
hidden triangle of the temple offered on the
triangles of the red easel with bright
wounds where the stylet cuts the inscription
absent visitor torn out of oblivion
she spending this evening
listens to the muffled echo of another fire"
"The reader stops at this point to examine a colored photograph filling the lower part of the page. It shows a front view, standing out sharply against the deep blue of the sky, of the isosceles pediment covered with little nail shaped lines lying in all directions, like the ones that used to be stamped in soft clay."
"In the generative cell--where the motionless ritual of violence and representation still continues--the inaccessible window on the right opens onto the sea. Outside, the lengthened shadow of the massive building extends for several times its height beneath the slanting rays of the setting sun, falling across the wide quay and on over the calm surface of the water, where it describes a rectangle of a darker blue that stands out sharply against the pale cobalt color."
"...With a little trouble one can make out the condemnation: 'girls to be shaven,' which for no reason prompts the dreamer to make the formal association: bare citadel."