Edwin Abbott – In Love with Ideas

In a delightful bout of synchronicity, yesterday the novella “Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions” fell upon my feet as I was taking my reserve video off the library shelf. The delightful part was that I had just finished a blog about Taurus and speculated in that blog about why the earth being round and not flat was so threatening to some during a previous portion of our history.

“Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions,” written in 1884 by Edwin A. Abbott, takes place in a two-dimensional world populated by geometric figures. The figures never see themselves or others in their entirety because of their two-dimensionality.

One day a visitor, Sphere from “Spaceland,” comes to visit our narrator, a self-defined Middle Class Square. Sphere looks like a circle because of Flatland’s two-dimensional reality.

The narrator is a middle-class “square.” Sound familiar? This is 1884, about 75 years before calling someone a middle-class square was an insult.

Sphere: Now stretch your imagination a little, and conceive a Square in Flatland, moving parallel to itself upward.

Square: What? Northward?

Sphere: No, not Northward; upward; out of Flatland altogether.

Edwin A. Abbott


The brief Wikipedia biography of “Flatland” author Edwin A. Abbott describes him as a schoolmaster and theologian.

[Picture from mathaware.org]

Abbott had sun in Sagittarius and moon in Aquarius, conjunct Neptune in Aquarius. Those placements are enough to earn a person the “Absentminded Professor” award. This combination is always thinking, always creating the perfect society – in its head. If others could just understand . . . If others could just see the perfection . . .

Neptune conjunct the moon in the rational sign of Aquarius is a bit confusing. Are the compulsive ideas truly rational or truly emotional? Have you gone crazy or have you truly penetrated the mysteries of time and space? If you’re emotionally attached to your radical ideas, will others see past the emotion?

Moreover, if you do penetrate the mysteries of time and space, how do you manage to return to the three-dimensional world?

As Sphere describes a three-dimensional cube to Square, Square has this reaction:

“‘Monster’, I shrieked, ‘be thou juggler, enchanter, dream, or devil, no more will I endure thy mockeries. Either thou or I must perish.’ And saying these words, I precipitated myself upon him.”

In addition to sun and Venus very tightly conjunct in Sagittarius (more on Venus later), Abbott also had Saturn in Sagittarius suggesting that his environment put limits on the meaning of the world around him. Sagittarius is ultimately about meaning and therefore drawn to religion. Saturn in religion makes rules whereas Sagittarius’ ruler Jupiter is about expansion and inclusion. As Sagittarius the archer gallops over fences, it runs smack into Saturn, the end of the world.

Past Saturn are Uranus, Neptune and Pluto which are like the psychotropic drugs ingested all too willingly and recklessly in the early 1950s and 1960s. They break the barrier of Saturn, but it is dangerous to travel past Saturn without psychic protection.

Square’s entry into Spaceland:

“. . . When I could find a voice I shrieked aloud in agony, ‘Either this is madness or it is Hell.’ ‘It is neither,’ calmly replied the voice of the Sphere, ‘it is Knowledge; it is Three Dimensions: open your eye once again and try to look steadily.”

“Flatland” is set on the night where 1999 becomes 2000. Abbott may well have enjoyed living in 1999, a technology and information age.

Air, air everywhere

Abbott had much air in his chart with moon/Neptune in Aquarius and Jupiter in Libra.

Air is detachment, air flows:

“I looked below, and saw with my physical eye all the domestic individuality which I had hitherto merely inferred with the understanding. And how poor and shadowy was the inferred conjecture in comparison with the reality which I now beheld.”

Air looks at the world and sees patterns:

“The further we receded from the object we beheld, the larger became the field of vision.”

As Square experiences Spaceland he wonders:

“. . . that this Space is really Thoughtland, then take me to that blessed Region where I in Thought shall see the insides of all solid things.”

Sagittarius, the philosopher

Those who look for meaning were once called “philosophers” and relate to Sagittarius. I fear in today’s world philosophy has been replaced by its polar opposite – Gemini, the journalist. We’re bombarded with facts but very little meaning.

Sagittarius is the philosopher in the ancient Greece sense of the word. Philosophers are seekers and teachers. In this part of the world at this time, respect for both philosophers and teachers seems to be at an all-time low due to the focus on profession with material output.

“Nothing could stem the flood of my ecstatic aspirations. Perhaps, I was to blame; but indeed I was intoxicated with the recent draughts of Truth to which he himself introduced me.”

A glimpse of the third dimension had the Middle Class Square seeking even higher dimensions:

“But my Lord has shewn me the intestines of all my countrymen in the Land of Two Dimensions by taking me with him into the Land of Three. What therefore more easy than now to take his servant on a second journey into the blessed region of the Fourth Dimension, where I shall look down with him once more upon this land of Three Dimensions . . .”

Three dimensions leads to a desire for the Fourth Dimension. Then more:

” . . .In that blessed region of Four Dimensions, shall we linger on the threshold of the Fifth, and not enter therein? Ah, no! Let us rather resolve that our ambition shall soar with our corporeal ascent. Then, yielding to our intellectual onset, the gates of the Sixth Dimension shall fly open; after that, a Seventh, and then an Eighth . . .”

Ecstasy of ideas or any other sort is difficult to maintain, although many a Sagittarius will try. An effort to maintain ecstasy can lead to what today are called addictive behaviors.

Once you fly high, the ground hurts on impact. Sagittarius can have as much melancholy as the most Saturnine Capricorn:

“One glimpse, one last and never-to-be-forgotten glimpse I had of the dull level wilderness – which was now to become my Universe again — spread out before my eye. Then a darkness. Then a final, all-consummating thunder-peal; and, when I came to myself, I was once more a common creeping Square, in my Study at home, listening to the Peace-Cry of my approaching Wife.”

The Wife

It’s interesting that the subtitle of the book is “A Romance of Many Dimensions” yet there is no romance in the physical sense. The wife is just a neurotic ball of emotion that must be managed.

A woman in “Flatland” is:

“a needle; being, so to speak, all point, at least at the two extremities. Add to this the power of making herself practically invisible at will, and you will perceive that a Female, in Flatland, is a creature by no means to be trifled with.”

With Venus and sun so closely joined, Abbott was probably quite attractive to the ladies (and gents) but may not have had a full awareness of this with moon in Aquarius. Neptune on the moon also emanates a charismatic, attractive quality.

I’m sure Abbott had devoted followers and admirers.

But “the wife” for Middle Class Square was clearly part of Flatland, a non-dimensional entity that didn’t factor the mathematical romance in any way. A point of pure, non-rational emotion.

“For whenever the temper of the Women is thus exasperated by confinement at home or hampering regulations abroad, they are apt to vent their spleen upon their husbands and children; and in the less temperate climates the whole male population of a village has been sometimes destroyed in one or two hours of a simultaneous female outbreak.”

How a needle has a spleen is a mystery unexplained.

Romance for the author (as he titled the book), was clearly a romance of ideas. I would suspect, however, that with Venus on the sun, there were a few (or more) physical attractions of the Aquarius kind – sudden, electric, intense but short.

The genius rebel

Aquarius is the water bearer, but is not a water sign. Aquarius brings “spiritual food” to the world. Aquarius can become the rebel due to the fixed nature of ideas which are not always in sync with the times.

For that reason, Aquarius is the sign of the genius. I think genius refers not simply to analytical smarts, but the ability to see past the current paradigm. To jump out of Flatland, however Flatland is defined during one’s time in three-dimensional reality.

“Flatland” has an unhappy ending. Our Middle Class Square has been imprisoned (at the time he writes, it’s been seven years) for spreading the word of Spaceland.

Square leaves us with this entreat:

“Yet I exist in the hope that these memoirs, in some manner, I know not how, may find their way to the minds of humanity in Some Dimension, and may stir up a race of rebels who shall refuse to be confined to limited Dimensionality.”


About ohioastrology

I'm just another soul trying to make sense of the world. As I've grown, so has my understanding of astrology. I'd like to communicate that astrology is not occult and not fortune-telling but that it is a fluid, creative description of the life we choose to live.
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