Saga of the Circular Argument
In the land of Rect no circles could be found, were only spoken of, and secretly. A particularly outspoken and argumentative scholar, however, by the name of Strong Objective insisted they could be drawn. He advanced the concept of a radius. That word or concept, or anything close to it, could not be found in any of the current school curriculums up to and including the University Graduate Program, except in the now defunct Department of Outdated History.
He thought to demonstrate it by fixing a rope with a stake and tying a donkey with a plow to the free end. He coaxed the animal around the stake keeping the rope taut. The more astute Rectian mathematicians noted that the ratio of the length of rope to the length of the resulting furrow, a number Strong had dubbed pi, was irrational. They therefore dismissed the entire procedure as a hoax.
It was deemed that a radius was a concept too abstract, academic and archaic for the common Rectian to grasp. Its promotion was just an elitist ploy to establish the Scholarly class in causing economic collapse from the retooling needed for reshaping bake ware.
Without a radius no circle could be drawn so a bill was passed that therefore circles did not exist.
Many factions arose ranging from the pure right-winged Spherists to the more liberal Ellipsians. There were even more radical groups such as the Parabolians and Hyperbolians who believed all that was needed was a focus. Since Rect was a pluralistic democratic society it was decided by majority vote. The election was conducted with all the proper checks and balances. An ingenious device was even invented to prevent hanging chad. So the law declaring the non-existence of circles came into existence. Later an amendment was made, since the law in its current wording only stated a fact – no circles existed. So ‘did not’ was replaced with ‘could not.'
But Strong’s persistence forced him into a life of crime. Friends left him one by one. All good citizens who followed the rectilinear ordinance shunned him as an incorrigible snob and upstart. Trapezoid an especially skilled draughtsman of regular polyhedra was called upon to lead Strong from the error of his ways. He found him in his room, which he hadn’t left for days with a strange mechanism probably built by Strong himself.
A pointed steel rod was hinged to a pencil. With the steel point planted on a piece of paper, the pencil would be free to draw a shape. This he kept doing with shapes of all sizes, shouting over and over again the alien word “COMPASS” “COMPASS."
The behavior was reported to the Guardian, head Psychologist and Warden of the trigonometrically insane. Careful or at least sterile analysis revealed that Strong’s obsessive retreat into unreality drove him to build an object that could pierce and gouge any who threatened his bubble fantasy. The instrument was immediately confiscated before Strong could harm himself or anybody else.
In desperation they brought in his mother. She blamed herself of course for giving him a name with too many ‘O’s. This was a character that was hard for little fingers to write because of all the edges. She pleaded with him not to flush his life down a circle. The blood actually flushed from her face as she said the last word. He still kept drawing.
The City Council determined enough was enough and detained him. The arresting officer handed him the following letter.
“Moved by civic pity, we must prevent any further demoralizing and dangerous actions on your part. You obviously care only for your own opinion and find nothing of value in the world around you. You are obviously an unhappy man and we must exile you for your welfare and that of others.”
The Guardian, an educated man, tried to reason with him. Using the air tight logical cyclegism that since a radius did not exist, neither could a circle and vice versa, he began his appeal. Strong rebutted with a counterturn that since a radius could exist so could circles. The Guardian needed to sit down or medicate himself, whichever came first. Strong grinned Socratically.
“Do you agree," he asked," that as long as one uses adjacent triangles of equal size one can build a regular polyhedron?”
The Guardian, having graduated Cum Laude, and accumulated a grade point of 2.5 or better said, “Yes, of course."
“So imagine triangles of equal size with two of their sides longer than the base all joined at the top vertex, like slices of a …” but Strong thought better and said “box-apple.”
“Increase the number of these triangles by shortening the bases. Is there a limit to this progression?”
The Guardian, having ranked top ten in his class for owning the most textbooks, said “Yes, of course."
“And what shape would that limit describe?”
The seated Guardian wished he had opted for medication and left.
The next day around noon, an assistant came to the door and told Strong he was free to go as he pleased, returning his compass. Strong, delighted as he was confused, took a stroll.
He came to a newsstand and read the headlines. “Guardian Suicide.” The article spoke of how the Guardian was found hunched over his desk on which a glass tested positive for poison. It was speculated after an MRI that the brain had experienced a peculiar event, somewhat traumatic, caused by a problem that the Guardian appeared to have been working on. Ancient texts had described this event in which the brain operated without books or external speech with the word “thinking."
Strong was still puzzled why he had been exonerated until he read further.
When the dead Guardian was lifted off his desk, a paper was found on which he had traced…
a perfect circle.