Radical philosophy defended by fire


(Bust of Pythagoras, photo by Galilea at German Wikipedia.)

Brockville has always been known as a conservative town.

Culturally, we show it to the world through our heritage architecture and the many ways we honour our Upper Canadian past.

Politically, we show it to the world by repeatedly electing representatives who are at the blue end of the Canadian spectrum.

And philosophically, it appears, we show it to the world by going to great lengths to reject radical world views foisted upon society by such postmodern charlatans as Pythagoras, Plato, Aristotle and Magellan.

I refer, of course, to that great philosophical debate that raged at St. Lawrence Park Monday night about the Earth’s true geometric shape.

Pythagoras, one of the early adopters of the round Earth heresy, is said to have been hounded from place to place by angry conservatives; he also had a most unhealthy obsession with numbers games.

Socrates, another early adopter, was ultimately sentenced to death for corrupting the youth of ancient Athens – on unrelated matters, mind you, but still..

On Monday, a more recent adopter of this theory had to resort to extreme measures, it would appear, to avoid a similar fate, engaging in a propane-fuelled battle that resulted in a fire.

The symposium began, by all accounts, with one woman insisting the earth was flat while a male contrarian, the father of said woman’s boyfriend, countered with the radical theory that it is, in fact, round.

The discussion grew, ahem, heated before the matter was resolved and police were looking for the man.

One owes a debt of gratitude to Brockville Police Staff Sgt. Todd Bertrend, he of the inimitable acerbic phrase, for informing us that: "Neither party would change their views."

Listen, I’m no physicist and I am no philosopher, but this viral story, which has again revived Brockville’s national reputation as a place where old ideas can be vigorously defended, has shaken my faith in a flat, predictable Earth to the core.

(There I go, right there, using a round-Earth metaphor as if the Earth actually has a core...)

But then, we now live in some sort of crazy reality in which Donald Trump has a real shot at becoming president and there are people who think Las Vegas should get a hockey team.

If such things can come to pass, for all I know, the Earth is a stacked ziggurat and we are only one level below where the dragons live.

Indeed, so warped and twisted has reality become in these uncertain times that we might even be convinced that the philosophical discussion outlined above was influenced by alcohol.

In a world where such loonies as Pythagoras and Plato win the day, one might even be enticed to believe that the woman who stood up in defence of old ideas did so for no other reason than to goad a middle-aged crank into having an inebriated tantrum.

Sooner or later, we might even learn that the moon is not, in fact, made of cheese.

And if so, what will we do to feed the goblins of the upper level before they come for us?