“Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions” is an 1884 satirical novella by the English schoolmaster Edwin Abbott Abbott, written under the pseudonym “A Square”. It depicts a 2 dimensional universe occupied by geometric figures where women are simple line-segments, while men are polygons with various numbers of sides. The narrator, a square, guides us through some of the implications of life in two dimensions. He dreams about a visit to a one-dimensional world (Lineland) and is then visited by a three-dimensional sphere, which he cannot comprehend until he sees Spaceland for himself.
If you ever wondered about multi-dimensional worlds, “Flatland” can help you put into perspective the possibility of higher spatial dimensions than the ones in which we live. (Even Sheldon in The Big Bang Theory declares that he visits “Flatland” in his imagination when he needs a change of scenery.)
I first got to know the story of “Flatland” via “CraftLit – a podcast for crafters who love books” by Heather Ordover (www.craftlit.com). If you don’t know that fantastic podcast yet, head on over and discover books of classical literature read by professional speakers and discussed by Heather, a fellow crafter and knitting designer who happens to also be a writer and lit teacher at high school and university levels.
In the twisted rib of the sock pattern, you can find the whole geometric society of “Flatland”: there are men of all social castes and standings: triangles, rhomboids and squares, penta- and hexagons as well as a whole lot of line-women.
And when you put the socks on your feet, you effortlessly add that elusive third dimension to the “Flatland”.