The first night in Babylon I read the shapes of starlets: everything around them glittered in the softly lit. Babylon had an air of hyper-conspired unreality as if even its deformities were formed by committee. Its onslaught was mostly of hubris and design flaws. Babylon's citizens upped their exterior gleam to show to an advantage the calculated city-like-city's grim.
Then I saw the starlet on the street. This starlet was tiny and warm and arm in arm with a tiny man and the two were saying "This is Babylon! Reach for the stars!" They attempted to grab the stars from the heavens, but their arms were too short.
I had been, before that, in a restaurant at a table next to a table with a starlet, this one of medium size, and my arm brushed against the arm of a third starlet (a larger one) after that. In the starlet-filled Babylon the future I had been writing about was finally aligning, how also there was no feeling of my own agency but in its place some totally celestial machine composed mostly of plot points and the lambent uncaring of logics too sparkly to historicize.
No one needed sensory detail about the city-like-city of Babylon, the fact of location existing sufficiently for itself. But I was a simple person, forever impressed, and the city wooed with alluring opposites, magnetized to profit, was made of jeweled things set in a circulatory blur.
Babylon's people were a collection of competitively gleaming things among the competitive din. I was often wrong even at just being, and my eyes in Babylon couldn't see the necessary for decision, seeing only an indistinguishable background of a city-like-rumor and on the foreground every kind of charming inaccident and event which no one should believe. The city was like an art exhibit consisting only of a sign that read
ON THE EARTH
Soon I found a companion with whom to roam the streets of Babylon. Unconvinced by Babylon's astral-convincing, he was a serious person whose mind stayed on circulation, soil, and a-heroic science fiction. He was a docent through the motion of decision of a city I could never become.
That night, when I finally fell asleep, I dreamed that the tiny starlet had made a map of varicose veins in her legs and during this dream the tour guide continued his softly intelligent lecture, the one he had made earlier from the streets, escorting me through the problem of vascular geography, as if he could heal the brutal maps and suture up the un-suturable facts.
The second night in Babylon I was no more clear-eyed or decisive. I was captivated and bad at it and at last doing nothing that was charming among the diamond and charming beings and was neither a handsome man or one of the necessary illuminations. This failure was tightly plotted, like a bookstore on a conveyer belt.
I saw a fourth starlet: she was sticking her fingers in her pupils, over and over, to find contacts that weren't actually there. This was "to gag thine own eyes in the deceiving city," as the scriptures say, and a fifth starlet said that to live in Babylon is to wade through a pond as an exposed wire.
I barely slept again for the fact of Babylon and the backlit silvery movers in it, the halogen and purging totality, the lurid possibility of an incandescent civic pornography, all of it recirculating into the half-awakeness of economies and euclidian groins. This was like a sex addiction: the starlets felt pink and flexible and like flickering screens that would never grow dim. I wanted to kiss almost anyone. Then it was a requirement, I guess, to escape from the nights of Babylon, and so I did.