With a gesture he led Sanders down the nave to the open porch. He pointed up to the dome-shaped lattice of crystal beams that reached from the rim of the forest like the buttresses of an immense cupola of diamond and glass. Embedded at various points were the almost motionless forms of birds with outstretched wings, golden orioles and scarlet macaws, shedding brilliant pools of light. The bands of colour moved through the forest, the reflections of the melting plumage enveloping them in endless concentric patterns. The overlapping arching in the air like the votive windows of a city of cathedrals. Everywhere around them Sanders would see the countless smaller birds, butterflies and insects, joining their cruciform haloes to the coronation of the forest.
Father Balthus took Sanders's arm. "In this forest we see the final celebration of the Eucharist of Christ's body. Here everything is transfigured and illuminated, joined together in the last marriage of space and time."
Then he realised why Thorensen had brought the jewels to the young woman, and why she had seized on them so eagerly. By some optical or electromagnetic freak, the intense focus of light from the surfaces reversed the process of crystallisation. Perhaps it was this gift of time which accounted for the eternal appeal of precious gems, as well as of all baroque painting and architecture. Their intricate crests and cartouches, occupying more than their own volume of space, so seemed to contain a greater ambient time, providing that unmistakeable premonition of immortality sensed within St. Peter's or the palace at Nymphenburg. By contrast, the architecture of the twentieth century, characteristically one of rectangular unornamented façades, of simple Euclidean space and time, was that of the New World, confident of its firm footing in the future and indifferent to those pangs of mortality which haunted the mind of old Europe. Dr. Sanders knelt down and filled his pockets with the stones, cramming them into his shirts and cuffs. He sat back against the front of the depository, the semi-circle of smooth pavement like a miniature patio, at whose edges the crystal undergrowth glittered with the intensity of a spectral garden. Pressed to his cold skin, the hard faces of the jewels seemed to warm him, and within a few seconds he fell into an exhausted sleep.
J.G. Ballard; The Crystal World; 1966
From the dusk of the hallway, we stepped at once into the the brightness of the day. The passerby, bathed in melting gold, had their eyes half closed against the glare, as if they were drenched with honey. Upper lips were drawn back, exposing the teeth. Everyone in this golden day wore that grimace of heat - as if the sun had forced his worshippers to wear identical masks of gold. The old and the young, women and children, greeted each other with these masks, painted on their faces with thick gold paint; they smiled at each other's pagan faces - the barbaric smiles of Bacchus.
Market square was empty and white hot, swept by hot winds like a biblical desert. The thorny acacias, growing in this emptiness, looked with their bright leaves like the trees on old tapestries. Although there was no breath of wind, they rustled their filial in a theatrical gesture, as if wanting to display the elegance of the silver lining of their leaves that resembled the fox-fur lining of a nobleman's coat. The old houses, worn smooth by the winds of innumerable days, played tricks with the reflections of the atmosphere, with echoes and memories of colours scattered in the depth of the cloudless sky. It seemed as if whole generations of summer days, like patient stonemasons cleaning the mildewed plaster from old facades, had removed the deceptive varnish revealing more and more clearly the true face of the houses, the features that fate had given them and life had shaped for them from the inside. Now the windows, blinded by the glare of the empty square, had fallen asleep; the balconies declared their emptiness to heaven; the open doorways smelt of coolness and wine.A bunch of ragamuffins, sheltering in a corner of the square from the flaming broom of the heat, beleaguered a piece of wall, throwing buttons and coins at it over and over again, as if wishing to read in the horoscope of those metal discs the real secret written in the hieroglyphs of cracks and scratched lines.
Bruno Schulz; Street of Crocodiles; 1934