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Derek Best has contributed to several publications, including Macleans Magazine Canada, and Omni Magazine, USA. He is has also produced many documentary films for Television. For many years, he has been interested in A Course in Miracles, a metaphysical thought system, and maintains the official website for that organization. "ACIM", he says "is central to my personal way of seeing the world." This site is strictly personal however. Derek has an eclectic range of interests, and writes about them here as the mood strikes him.

Saturday, June 10, 2006


I get asked a lot about Flatland, presumably because I talk about it a lot. It is a short novel by Edwin Abbott written from the point of view of a citizen of a two-dimensional universe (a flat land). In this parallel universe there are rules and regulations, cultures and traditions, taboos and norms, and of course -- perceptions, and a world-view and a philosophy built upon them. The author however is given an "extraordinary" glimpse of the third dimension, and upon his return to two-dimensional normality he is a changed man. Unfortunately his insistence on a greater reality beyond mere flatness brands him as a madman and a heretic. He can produce no "evidence" to support his claims, and he ends up committed to prison for his refusal to renounce his ideas. As the narrative draws to a close he sits in his prison cell and seems to be at peace with his incarceration, as he begins musing on the possibility of other dimensions beyond the third.
The book is satire, and is usually branded as "social" satire, with the target of the humor ostensibly being stuffy Victorian society. In fact though, the central premise is one of intolerance and closed thinking of all kinds, and failure to think outside the conventional limits.
I think it was Spock (Mr. , not Dr.) who said something like "Two is the most unlikely number in the universe." His point was -- an oddity or a singularity is possible and quite probable, but if you discover another similar one, then it is no longer singular, and the probability that there are only two -- is then very small.
That concept certainly applies to dimensions; but a strange thing seems to happen in university philosophy departments when I mention the possibility that the Boolean analytical approach to describing God might be just as restrictive and restricted as the Flatland approach to describing the world. What happens is: satire is labeled as just that -- satire -- and placed on a mental shelf neatly out of the way in the "interesting but irrelevant" section of the library. There is no move to see the satire as possibly uncovering a truth of any kind. It's sort of like this -- "Yes I think I read that when I was a teenager. Look, what's your point? Why are we discussing fiction when we are trying to discover truth?"
And to be honest there is a kind of vulnerability in invoking the ideas of others (fact or fiction) as a position or a defense during any kind of dialog. The mere fact that a concept is pre-existent makes it categorizable and probably already categorized. We categorize in order to protect ourselves from the now. We dilute the meaningfulness of existence by sticking labels on everything. Have you ever wondered why the Dymo-labeler is such a successful business product? It helps mankind do what he has to do in order to obscure God.
Today is a mish-mash post of disconnected thoughts. But today in general was like a ripe glowing orange, waiting to be plucked. You know? Some days the world seems bigger than we can handle and largely hostile. Other days, like today, it seems manageable and friendly, obtainable and sweet. One major relief was the absence of earthquakes. I've had a lot of dreams about a major earthquake in LA on June 9th. Didn't happen, and I'm not sorry. Goodnight.


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