…He was aware that here and there, in Zereb or Silbo, in this or that tower, things had been said that seemed to open up new horizons on the Shion – and much of Zy’s thought concerned the Shion – and contributed to creating the hazy outline of a life.

It was this life that Zy worked over, his mind running backwards and forwards, but endlessly slipping, like a beetle in a bowl, not ever quite managing to get outside the object and to arrive at a clear view of its structure. And that was what Zy wanted to do: to build a house of thought, a place that was fine and translucent, and stable, which didn’t keep melting and flowing away all the time, a sanctuary to which he could bring his ideas and place them in store, so that they would remain there intact, enabling him to go back to them when he wanted, and find his ideas unchanged, the information locked in order and sound.

The letters, for instance: he had wanted to know about the letters…