English philosophy tends to be rather English. For those not familiar with the distinction between English and Continental Philosophy, they are luckily easily discerned by anyone with a working knowledge of stereotypes of the cultures involved. English philosophy is modest, impersonal, and factual, much befitting the denizens of the land of rain and bangers and mash. Continental philosophy is rather more flamboyant, poetic and emotional, much like all our stereotypes about the Romance-speaking people.

Flatland: A Romance in Many Dimensions, is a very English book. Although somewhat charming and whimsical in its set-up, it is still about geometry and its implications.

Until we get, later in the book, to Pointland. We have already visited both Flatland and Lineland, where the imagination of the author becomes somewhat strained in explaining how 2 and 1 dimensional characters can have societies. But in Pointland, we have no society, because we have only one individual: The King of Pointland. Stuck in a universe that is confined to one point, himself, he imagines that he is everything, and that everything is him. He spends all his time soliloquizing about his own grandeur and importance. While I found the rest of the book interesting, the appearance of the King of Pointland grabbed me, because it seemed an existentialist statement that was both anticipatory and beyond the scope of English philosophy. The narrator, the two dimensional A. Square, and his companion, the Sphere, look down upon the King of Pointland and ask if he can be helped. They even yell to him, but he assumes it is his own voice that he hears. It almost seems like a reversal of the situation in No Exit: Hell is (the lack) of Other People.

After the attempted rousing of the King of Pointland from his dimensionless thinking, he returns to an eternity of contemplating his own wholeness, unaware that he is the smallest thing in the universe. The passage still fills me with a bit of terror to read, because...what if we are ALL the King of Pointland?

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