News agencies around the world received a mysterious report this weekend from the Committee for the Truth About Flatland. Committee members, claiming to represent "a broad spectrum of two-dimensional citizens," criticized the highly popular book about Flatland written by Edwin Abbott because "it represents what a three-dimensional Victorian English male perceived about Flatland; it bears little connection to who we are as two-dimensional beings or how our society is really organized."
The strange communique, emailed to journalists from an Internet domain that the US government swears does not exist, quotes a passage from Abbott's landmark study of Flatland society that committee members say is a particularly egregious example of how Abbott got things wrong:
To the readers in Spaceland the condition of our women may seem truly deplorable, and so it is. A Male of the lowest type of the Isosceles may look forward to some improvement of his angle, and to the ultimate elevation of his whole degraded caste; but no Woman can entertain such hopes for her sex. "Once a Woman, always a Woman" is a Decree of Nature; and the very laws of Evolution seem suspended in her Disfavour. Yet the least we can admire the wise prearrangement which has ordained that, as they have no hopes, so shall they have no memory to recall, and no forethought to anticipate, the miseries and humiliations whiuch are at once a necessity of their existence and the basis of the constitution of Flatland."In Flatland we have 150 different genders, with equal social status and power. Abbott was completely scandalized by that." the committee wrote. "We realized too late he'd censor the truth but we didn't realize just how badly he would distort our society."
According to the communique, Abbott's physical descriptions of Flatlanders as being simple polygons ranked in social hierarchy and intelligence according to number of sides and symmetry was "just plain wrong."
"Living beings in Flatland are fractal in nature -- we don't come packaged in simple shapes like hexagons, squares or triangles as Abbott described us. Our social structure is egalitarian and based on a reverance for our plane of existence."
Members of the Committee for the Truth About Flatland say they want the three-dimensional world to recognize that "Abbott wrote about a Flatland that beings of your three-dimensional world would accept as realizable. The fact that it bore no relation to who and what we really are did not seem to bother him."
The communique concluded,
"Hopefully, once three-dimensional beings recognize the errors they've made in stereotyping the beings in our world, they'll be ready to deal with the prejudice that lives on today in their own higher-dimensional world."
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