Flames of the Infinite

23 Sep

Inigo felt a sense of relief when he reached the city of Ruer, the intellectual and spiritual center of the Remakers.

The small young man in black cowl and clerical coat entered through the narrow pedestrian gate, into a crowded cobblestone street. His mind had not had such profound relief for several years, ever since he had been questioned before an Inquiry Court of the orthodox Rightfuls. Living in an age of cosmological revolution was not at all easy, the bold thinker told himself. But now he hoped to enjoy the protection of other innovative reformers. That was the promise of enlightened Ruer.

But first he had to locate and talk with the renowned universist named Chaue.

A few questions of passing townsmen brought him to the building made of crosswood where this man idolized by Inigo had his apartment. Knocking on the entrance door brought out the housekeeper. The newly arrived one gave his name. The woman went inside, then returned to inform him that her master would see him at once in the study room.

Behind a tall roll-top desk of rosewood sat the cadaverous form of the Remaker leader. Sky blue eyes peered through rimless spectacles at the refugee. Chaue pointed to a plain chair where Inigo then seated himself.

“What is your purpose in coming to Ruer?” abruptly inquired the older man, grimacing sourly.

“I can no longer live or study in the regions where the Rightful pastorate holds sway. Their establishment, it appears, will never change their ideas. How can one seek cosmological truth when the supreme canon is one of utter conformity? No freedom to think or believe exists where those obscurantists dominate. I had to come here if my viewpoint is ever to be expressed.”

“And what is your perspective, may I ask?” asked the Remaker pioneer.

Inigo smiled with joy as he revealed the direction of his thought on the universe.

“In forming my personal conception of the Infinite, I see it through the lens of its Entirety and Totality. It must be conceived of as Ineffable, Unutterable, and Undefinable because of being Illimitable. What else but the sum of all can be the Supreme, the Maximal, and the Ultimate?

“Does what I say, sir, make sense to you?”

Chaue gave him an oblique look. “Write these ideas up. That will make them clearly concrete. Then, all of Ruer can judge the value of what is in your mind.”

Inigo rose to his feet, realizing that the interview had ended.

After renting a room in a cheap hotel, the newcomer set to work writing by hand a book of his cosmological ideas. Day after day, he labored and concentrated till the manuscript was finished. Here in Ruer, such a work had to be approved by a board of censors before it was eligible for printing and publication. This was what Inigo was now obliged to carry out, taking his composition to the municipal hall and the office of cosmological control. Days of patient waiting followed for the writer.

A knock at his door caused Inigo to rush forth to open it. Two urban guards in brown uniforms stood there gazing at him with wrath in their faces.

“You are under arrest for philosophical blasphemy,” announced the senior guard. “Come along with us to the city prison at once.”

The thinker was thrown into an unlighted, airless cell infested with vermin. He was told nothing of the charges that were to be brought against him. No defense attorney consulted with the prisoner whose very life was in jeopardy in the cosmological dictatorship of Ruer.

Finally, after two weeks of total isolation, the accused was taken to a large court room packed with angry partisans of Remakerism. A jury of ten looked across at him, poisonous venom in the eyes of all of them.

The municipal prosecutor had a figure known to Inigo sitting at his right side.

It was the all-powerful Chaue, the designer and actual ruler of the city-state.

Public interrogation of the defendant began, carried out by the law officer.

“Do you acknowledge this manuscript to be yours?” he demanded in a loud, merciless voice.

“Yes, I do.”

“Do you admit that all the ideas and propositions therein belong to you?”

“Of course. They are all mine.”

“So, you deny nothing written on these pages?”

“That is correct, sir.”

The prosecuting attorney then astounded everyone present by turning over further questioning to the Main Syndic and recognized logician, Dr. Chaue.

It became evident to all that the purpose was to demolish the radical thoughts of the accused.

Wearing a long coat of black ursine fur, the spiritual chief of Remaker Ruer rose to his feet.

“Please tell us whether this is an accurate characterization of your thinking: that the universe that we inhabit is infinite in extent, but there are many others that also exist beyond it. And that these universes outside ours are infinite in number, as well as infinite in their individual, separate dimensions.”

Inigo cleared his throat, then replied to this.

“What you say is correct, but incomplete. Therefore, it is a biased version, perhaps intended to make my thought appear illogical and even absurd. You have left out important, vital elements.”

For a second, the interrogator looked flustered and surprised, but quickly went back in attack.

“Will you explain to us how an infinite number of worlds can each be separately infinite and unlimited. How do you bridge the evident contradiction in such a system?”

All of a sudden, the one being judged broke out in a broad smile of confidence.

“Each cosmos is an individual, separate creation. It is unaffected by whatever exists in any of the others. The different worlds do not necessarily contain the identical dimensions, even the same number of them. These parts or regions are affected only by the whole, infinite total of worlds, but not by any single one by itself. It is this infinite All that can have influence, not any parallel universe, whether adjacent or distant.”

Chaue leaned forward, thrusting his reddened face close to that of his opponent.

“Answer me yes or no. Is each of your universes a unified One?”

“Yes,” shot back Inigo.

“And do you believe that the infinite total of worlds forms one, single All?”

“Yes,” muttered the younger man, foreseeing where the other was headed.

“Then, there are an infinite number of Ones, and only a single, overarching All.”

“You are misrepresenting what I wrote. Nowhere in my work is there any contradiction between the identity of the One and the All. You are conflating two separate levels of being and of thought.” Inigo turned his head so he could see the court audience. “What you hear from the questioner is a distortion of my line of thinking. The All is on the higher level, the One on a lower one. There can be no possible logical contradiction.”

“But there is,” interrupted Chaue. “Everyone can see it for themselves.” A thundering roar came from the audience. “What the writing reveals is your disregard for the truth. The fundamental belief of all Remakers is the oneness, the singleness of the cosmos. There can be no All except this One that we are a part of. What your manuscript attempts is to sunder apart the One and the All from each other. This is blasphemy against the Supreme Spirit of our universe. Our city will not allow such insanity to be espoused. You shall not be permitted to poison any minds with your absurdities.”

Another roar, now one of approval, followed.

Inigo realized that the winner was going to be Dr. Chaue.

The sentence of death by burning for cosmological heresy was foreseeable by everyone. It was the foreman of the jury board who pronounced the verdict. guards escorted the prisoner back to his cellule. There would no long, lingering wait. Execution had to occur before night fell.

Chaue appeared, accompanied by a trio of black-garbed death guards.

“Of all the heretics and blasphemers I have had to deal with, you are the most extreme and dangerous,” sneered the cosmologist. “No one I have encountered has had such radical ideas. Your end will be a cleansing and purification of this city. Extinction is the punishment that you will soon meet with.”

A guard on each side holding him at the elbow, Inigo walked out of his cellule, then the prison, onto the small hill where the fire device stood waiting for him.

The condemned one was placed into an iron cage that was lifted in the air by two giant pulleys.

Inigo realized at once the purpose of the ghoulish contraption: to raise and lower the body of the sentenced one, into and out of the fire, thus prolonging the pain of burning alive.

That, in fact, was how the process proceeded.

Once the cage was raised up, an enormous pile of green wood was deposited on the ground beneath it. Lighted torches set this ablaze. Great flames soon surrounded the condemned one.

As the flames rose higher and higher, the cage was lifted upward. But then, after a time, it fell back to its previous position. Up again, down again. Half a dozen such movements occurred as the victim caught fire and began to roast in a slow, torturing burning.

The crowd jeered at each elevation, but cheered at each descent into the fire.

At the last moment of his life, as he expired, Chaue tossed the man’s manuscript into the conflagration that was killing the creator of the banned cosmological ideas.

Some observers later claimed that they saw Inigo die with a smile, as if he were already elsewhere.

In a different universe, perhaps?

That may have been his final, ultimate hope believed many who were there.

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