Saturday, October 6, 2012

Why I think Flatland should be thrown into the Trash Can

Rating : Let's just not talk about it

Author: Edwin A. Abbott

Every nerd/geek or even a mathematics enthusiast would have, at least,  heard about the famous essay Flatland: A romance of many dimensions. I read it a while ago myself. The internet too is filled with its praises and extolling reviews.

Sadly, for me this "land" just does not make sense and I'll explain why.

Firstly, lets take a plane paper and draw a circle as well as a line segment on it.It would look something like this:
a circle and a line segment
  This would represent a male and a female in a two dimensional plane. Now, if you would imagine yourself to be either you could very well understand that life as we know it would be impossible in such an environment. This is so because as there is no depth or the third dimension in a two dimensional plane. So actions such a movement, sensing, or anything for that matter would be impossible.

Now, Edwin A. Abbott, the very author of Flatland, talks about a world of two dimensions whose inhabitants are pentagons, circles, line segments and various other two dimensional geometric shapes. They move around, have houses, have a government, police and are basically a projection of the three dimensional world, i.e. our world, on a two dimensional plane.
I, personally find this notion of a 2-D life absurd and stupid. As to do any "living action" as we know them, we need the third dimension.

Even if I ignore the whole paradox in the existence of a two dimensional world, I find the book filled with chauvinism, rank-ism, and all the other problems that our world is filled with. I mean, if you are imaging a world then might as well imagine it to be Utopian and if not Utopian then at least a little better than ours.

Thus, this book greatly disappointed me overall and in my opinion should be trashed.

1 comment:

  1. Although I haven't read Flatland, I've noticed similar failures of imagination in other science fiction novels. In fact, I read a book about writing science fiction which said that a book dealing with a strange concept in which the characters are strange people (i.e. different from people we know in our ordinary lives)has asked the reader to deal with "one strange too many". My reaction is that a strange concept and strange characters is just about strange enough for me to consider reading it.