What’s on Page 123

James Taylor tagged me in the recent blogging meme, “What’s on Page 123”, where I have to write about the book that I’m currently reading, and quote the 6th to 8th sentences on page 123.

I always have a few books on the go, but just started re-reading Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions, by Edwin Abbott. The book barely has 123 pages — my edition ends on page 130 — but here’s the excerpt from that page:

But it occurred to me that a young and docile Hexagon, with a mathematical turn, would be a most suitable pupil. Why therefore not make my first experiment with my little precocious Grandson, whose casual remarks on the meaning of 33 had met with the approval of the Sphere? Discussing the matter with him, a mere boy, I should be in perfect safety; for he would know nothing of the Proclamation of the Council; whereas I could not feel sure that my Sons–so greatly did their patriotism and reverence for the Circles predominate over mere blind affection–might not feel compelled to hand me over to the Prefect, if they found me seriously maintaining the seditious heresy of the Third Dimension.

I first read this book in late high school or university (yes, I’m a math geek), and re-read it when doing graduate studies in multi-dimensional pattern analysis, since it helped me to think about dimensions beyond those that we perceive. I won’t summarize the whole book — Wikipedia has a good summary, and I recommend that you pick up a copy of Flatland and read it for yourself — but it has operates on two levels. First, it’s a mathematical treatise disguised as an allegory: an inhabitant of Flatland, a two-dimensional world, is visited by a Sphere, who attempts to educate him about a three-dimensional world (given that the Flatlander is a Square, this is probably the first true instance of “thinking outside the box” 🙂 ).  The subtext of the story, however, is a satire of the societal class and religious system in Victorian society at the time the book was written (1884).

I recently recommend Flatland to my other half, who has been writing a story about Sigma, but he just couldn’t get into it; I, however, am enjoying this reading of it as much as I did the first.

I’m bouncing this meme over to Bob McIlree, who is undoubtedly reading something more current about enterprise architecture, and Kate Trgovac, whose blog always introduces me to the coolest stuff and therefore must be reading something interesting. I’m probably supposed to tag five people, but James only tagged me so I figure that I can take some artistic license with this.

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