I was looking at the books along an old bookstall: Charing Cross, perhaps, or one of the barrows beside the Seine, when I found the middle part of a life of Byron. This was the part which came in between a book about his life in Italy, and his early life. It was called something like The Years of Fame.

The cover had a picture of an anguished face upon it: tortured, wreathed with snakes. A Laoco├Ân painted by Fuseli, perhaps. Not, in any case, the Grecian beauty of the hero – a darker, fatter, more fleshy reality.

The book pleased me nevertheless. It seemed to fill a gap: an objectification of pain, perhaps – some sense of it as part of the composition of a personality or a life. I don’t know why I record these fragmentary indications even, they are far from what is in my heart at present.

[They fucked her all last night. It was inevitable, I suppose, as soon as I told them who, what she was. The bearded one was quite sure that I would want to watch, and – so you know – I’m not sure he was wrong.

I remember thinking that her thighs were smooth, smoother than I would have expected, but then the screaming and the coupling began to jerk her here and there, and I was lost in a nightmare of … what? The nightmare of shared species, I suppose. I am, in a sense, one of them, and that’s the trouble. Calling them animals would be only too easy. I am one of them.]

This desert life is clearly bad for the imagination. My dreams have got shorter, more perfunctory, while everyday life seems to be falling into a morass of phantasms. When I woke up this morning I expected to find a group of brigands guarding us on every side, with my sweet guide turned to their serving whore.

There was nothing. The fire had gone out in the night, but the animals were still tethered on the other side. My companion slumbered on in her desert coloured bedroll. The whole thing – jerking cocks, cruel blows and curses, glint in a bearded eye, must have been fantasy. A more concrete fantasy than any I have hitherto experienced, though.

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