Author : Cesium

It is only from one of the higher towers, the myriad smaller buildings laid out below and higher ones gleaming in the distance, that the City’s infinitude truly becomes intuitively and not merely intellectually apparent.

But even in the mist of a cool morning, when only the closer bridges and skyscrapers loom nebulously out of the featureless white, the City’s sheer vastness is never far from one’s mind. The City has no limits in the horizontal; it is bounded below and above only by what current technology can delve from the ground and claim from the sky. It is immeasurably old and constantly evolving. It contains buildings, and indeed whole districts, of every conceivable purpose and architectural style, and no sooner is a new one invented than some aging, decrepit building is torn down to make room for its first exemplar.

The City is everywhere inhabited; its populace moves about on its daily business via a network of streets, walkways, and rail lines, irregularly distributed, intersecting interminably with more of the same. The system is of course impossible to diagram in full, though local maps are readily available. Many people find employment and contentment within a few miles of their birthplace; some travel great distances to settle in different regions of the City; the remainder are restless wherever they go. I count myself among the latter few.

Once in my youth, driven by the impetuous urge to prove wisdom mistaken and the City finite, I leapt onto the back of an emptied supply truck as it departed the local produce market. If any activity went on beyond the limits of the City, I reasoned, it would surely be agriculture. But the truck arrived finally at a vast complex of greenhouses and hydroponic farms, surrounded by the familiar yet unfamiliar skyline of some other part of the City, and, seeing no obvious openings for further exploration, I was forced to make my way home.

In the decades since, I have traveled uncounted distances across the face of the City. A few years ago I began to hear rumors of the Tower of Jorge, which called it variously a tourist destination, an ancient relic, or a pilgrimage site; its fame seemed to grow the closer my journey took me. This very morning I arrived in the square where it stands, a tall straight spire pointing upward at the heavens, and climbed the winding stair to its top.

An inscription there defines the Tower to be the center of the City. The claim is absurd; the infinite has no center, or equivalently, every point is the center. But soon the chaotic sweep of the City all around me began to make a sort of sense; I seemed to perceive the avenues emanating from the square below, the districts arranged radially, disguised though they were by centuries of construction and demolition. In that instant I could believe that the City had started here. And if it had a beginning then perhaps it is not endless after all.

This is all I have discovered, for I have not managed to recapture that momentary revelation. I leave this note here in the hope that it will reach someone younger and better equipped than I to explore the mysteries of the City. I plan now to follow as far as I can the direction of one of the hidden avenues; perhaps I shall find its end in a location as distinguished as this one from the rest of the City. More likely I will die still unfulfilled. The City will continue, eternal and indifferent.


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