Prologue to my novel,The Winding Way, as of yet unfinished.
The Immortal and the Incarnate
It was a place quite like this one, formless and unmolded, in which the Incarnate and the Immortal met.
“It has been a long time, old friend,” the Immortal said (or rather didn't say, since words did not yet exist).
“I do not believe I remember you,” the Incarnate replied. “Have we met before?”
“Oh yes, many times, in fact. And each time you forget me, but I do not forget you.”
“Hm, I suppose such is our nature,” the Incarnate mused. “But tell me, why have you addressed me now, and to what purpose?”
“I have a request,” the Immortal said. “I wish to create a thing, but as per my nature, I have no reign over beginnings and endings. I need your assistance. I wish to end this empty space and begin an Existence.”
“An Existence?” the Incarnate murmured. Its eyes (or what we shall call eyes) flickered cunningly. “Why would you want to create such a thing? What good is an Existence?”
“I wish a place to put my knowledge. To embody it.”
“Like a showcase?”
“If one might be so simple.”
“Simple? Me? You are quite mistaken,” the Incarnate smiled, slow and smooth. “Perhaps I am of limited knowledge, but my expertise lies in other areas. Why should you want a place to embody your knowledge, if it will sit still and stagnant, unchanging and unmoving?”
“It is not in my business to change or move,” the Immortal replied stoically. “I am the essence of ideals, the totality of concepts. In me is stored all that was and shall be, all that is and is not. I wish to create such a place that will reflect this.”
“But therein lies the contradiction -- you cannot create. You know nothing that is new.”
“All things that are new exist already within me!” the Immortal scoffed. “It is you that knows nothing but new, nothing but old -- you do not know the thing, but the details of it, its repercussions and time. Not the sound, but the echo. You are not the Idea, but the experience of it, and that is why I ask your help. Create for me a basin in which I can pour my knowledge and which will Express these ultimate ideals that I contain.”
“You claim you have met me before,” the Incarnate said trickily, changing the topic. “Many times, in fact. Therefore, I daresay you know me better than I know myself. Perhaps this thing is beyond my ability, or beyond my whimsy. Tell me, how do you know me?”
“You are the Incarnate,” the Immortal replied. “You are the ever-cycling end and beginning, the continuous motion, the action and consequence, the ultimate possibility. We are two things not alike -- you are eternal reincarnation, I am Eternity itself.”
“Is that so?” the Incarnate mused. “Perhaps it is more like two faces of the same coin. May it be that where you are knowledge, I am the gathering of knowledge?”
“You are the action, I am the concept itself.”
“Therefore you cannot act yourself?”
“Therefore I have no hand in beginnings or endings.”
“And yet all of this is contained in you.”
“But acted through you.” The Immortal, though patient, was tried by the Incarnate's curiosity. “That which is Immortal cannot change. It is not a line, but a plane. It exists consistently and unquestionably and is the ultimate authority in all things.”
“You are my one Enigma.”
The Incarnate smiled at this. It enjoyed the idea of being an enigma, as it enjoyed the idea of many things, though was not privy to the Idea itself. “If I am to begin an Existence for you, mold this unshapen place and give birth to it, then I want a hand in it for myself.”
The Immortal was suspicious. “Why?”
“Why not?” the Incarnate laughed. “What good is a basin that cannot be used? What good is the knowledge without the experience of the knowledge, or those to learn it, to craft it and interpret it? All that you are must be perceived by me, after all, or else you are nothing.”
“I am everything.”
“And nothing, if alone.”
“Such is our nature.”
“Perhaps you contain the essence of nothing, but I am that which knows the experience of it. I am the Incarnate, after all -- if what you say is true, then it is in me to cycle on eternally, with endless possibility, endless spectrum and expression. I do not know your knowledge, but I can seek it, and you do not know how to seek.”
“You are losing your point.”
“My point is that I will not create this Existence unless it is governed by Experience, not Knowledge.”
The Immortal was silent for a long moment. It did not think, for it had no ability to process, but to say it could have predicted this outcome would be a lie. The Immortal did not predict, and it did not guess or wonder, for it had no sense of time or outcome or purpose. However, it did know how to choose, and this is what it thought of now -- its choice.
“I do not share,” the Immortal said. “I am the container of all true Forms, of all true thought. There is no room for Experience.”
“There is always room for Experience,” the Incarnate corrected. “Otherwise, you are the one that is simple. Imagine what you are asking of me--” the Incarnate swept a non-arm at the unmolded space. “I take your true Form and create infinite numbers of form. I take your Truth and create infinite interpretations of truth. You give me the true Form of Honor, and I will give you infinite perceptions of honor. You give me the true idea of Love, and I will show you infinite ways to love.” The Incarnate dangled these words before the Immortal's nose. “Is this not an even trade? Will you not learn more, then, by observing infinite facets of your one Truth?”
“I do not learn,” the Immortal replied stonily. “I am all-knowledge contained.”
“Ah, I forget myself,” the Incarnate bowed (or did not bow) in apology. “With all of my eagerness, I have let slip the fact that you are all things constant and unchanging. But allow me to bring change and inconsistency into this Existence, and watch how your knowledge and ideals are expressed in infinite ways. Do you not find that in the least rewarding?”
“It is true that perhaps this knowledge must be realized by another to give it significance,” the Immortal mused. “But if there are infinite interpretations of the one true Form, then that true Form will never be truly expressed, it will only be....”
“Glimpsed at? Perhaps through Experience?” The Incarnate smiled cunningly again. “I know nothing of Truth or ultimate ideals, my new friend, but in the end it is you who asks me to begin this thing, and seeing as I am the ever-changing force, the creator and destroyer, the great adapter, then I will only do this on one condition.”
The Immortal waited.
“Share with me this Existence,” the Incarnate repeated.
“Why do you not just make your own?”
“Because what is Existence without the meaning of True things? Without the search for True Love? True Knowledge? True Forms?” The Incarnate shook its head that was not a head. “Existence is empty if there is no Truth at which to glimpse. But likewise, Existence is empty if there is no one to experience your Truth.”
The Immortal was silent for another pause. And then, finally, “I do not like it, but I will relent. Create this place, a marriage of True Form and Experience, and we shall observe its course, old friend.”
“You will not regret this,” the Incarnate said.
“It is not in my nature to regret,” the Immortal reminded it.
“Alas, if you but had the pleasure.”