Page:Flatland, a Romance of Many Dimensions (1884).djvu/36

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24
Flatland

what appear to me as the Merchant's extremities, viz. D and C, will be very dim indeed.

On the other hand in the case of (2) the Physician, though I shall here also see a line (D'A'E) with a bright centre (A' ), yet it will shade away less rapidly into dimness, because the sides (A'C', A'B' ) recede less rapidly into the fog; and what appear to me the Physician's extremities, viz. D' and E', will be not so dim as the extremities of the Merchant.

The Reader will probably understand from these two instances how—after a very long training supplemented by constant experience—it is possible for the well-educated classes among us to discriminate with fair accuracy between the middle and lowest orders, by the sense of sight. If my Spaceland Patrons have grasped this general conception, so far as to conceive the possibility of it and not to reject my account as altogether incredible—I shall have attained all I can reasonably expect. Were I to attempt further details I should only perplex. Yet for the sake of the young and inexperienced, who may perchance infer—from the two simple instances I have given above, of the manner in which I should recognize my Father and my Sons—that Recognition by sight is an easy affair, it may be needful to point out that in actual life most of the problems of Sight Recognition are far more subtle and complex.

If for example, when my Father, the Triangle, approaches me, he happens to present his side to me instead of his angle, then, until I have asked him to rotate, or until I have edged my eye

Flatland (first edition) page 24.png

round him, I am for the moment doubtful whether he may not be a Straight Line, or, in other words, a Woman. Again, when I am in the company of one of my two hexagonal Grandsons, contemplating one of his sides (AB) full front,