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the Flat Earth

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Jason
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« Reply #15 on: June 26, 2007, 12:17:07 am »

Cultural references

The notion of a flat Earth continues to be referred to in a wide range of contexts

An early mention in literature was Ludvig Holberg's comedy Erasmus Montanus (1723). Erasmus Montanus returns to the countryside after having finished his studies in Copenhagen. He meets considerable opposition when he claims the Earth is round, since all the peasants hold it to be flat. He is not allowed to marry his fiancée until he cries "The earth is flat as a pancake".

In Rudyard Kipling's The Village that Voted the Earth was Flat, the narrator and some friends are unjustly fined for a minor offence by a crooked village magistrate and his accomplices in the police. By way of revenge, they spread the rumor that a Parish Council meeting had voted in favor of a flat Earth. The village is ridiculed in the press, and a popular song entitled The Village that Voted the Earth was Flat sweeps the nation.

E. A. Abbott's satire Flatland (1884) is set in an entirely two-dimensional world.

In L. Frank Baum's Mother Goose in Prose, the Three Wise Men of Gotham make their journey to decide whether the earth is flat, spherical or hollow.

The genre of fantasy fiction is particularly rich in references to the flat Earth. In some of J.R.R. Tolkien's writings, his fantasy world of Arda is conceived as a world which was originally flat, but became spherical at the time of the Fall of Númenor. In C.S. Lewis' The Voyage of the Dawn Treader it is stated that the fictional world of Narnia is "round like a table" (i.e., flat), not "round like a ball", and the characters sail toward the edge of this world. Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels, from 1983 onwards, are set on a flat, disc-shaped world resting on the backs of four huge elephants which are in turn standing on the back of an enormous turtle. In his novel The Color of Magic astronomers a build spaceship to discover whether the turtle is male or female. Small Gods describes a totalitarian church that insists the world is a sphere. Pratchett had earlier explored a similar setting in Strata (1981).

Michael Swanwick's 1989 short story "The Edge of the World" portrays a flat Earth with a history similar to ours; the story tells of three teenagers who take a trip to visit the world's edge.

In Stephen King's short story The Mist a group of people who refuse to believe in the events going on around them despite the obvious information are known as 'The Flat Earth Society' by the other characters, an obvious correlation to people who insist on a flat earth despite overwhelming information to the contrary.

The notion of a flat Earth has featured in various computer games. In the fictional text adventure universe of Zork, Quendor is located on a flat planet which some believe to be held up by a giant humanoid called a brogmoid. In the computer game Grim Fandango, the world is flat, with a huge waterfall bordering the edge. One chapter of the game takes place on an island at the very edge of the world. The Golden Sun video game series is set in a flat world called Weyard. Creation in the role playing game Exalted is a flat world thousands of miles in extent.

The film Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End shows the ship Hai Peng, used by the heroes of the film, facing a giant waterfall. This is a reference to the flat earth at its edge where ships fall down, hence the waterfall and the title.

The economist Thomas Friedman uses the flat Earth as a metaphor to describe the leveling of the world economic stage in his best-selling book, The World is Flat.

The Spanish songwriter Quimi Portet released, in 2004, an album called "La Terra és Plana" (which in Catalan means "The Earth is Flat") and a single with the same title.

Robert McKimson's 1951 cartoon Hare We Go pairs up Bugs Bunny with Christopher Columbus. It opens with Columbus arguing about the shape of the world with the king of Spain, who insists that it is flat.

Monty Python's film Monty Python's The Meaning of Life contains a skit, The Crimson Permanent Assurance, in which a pirate office building falls off the edge of the world.

The comic strip The Wizard of Id had a strip which depicted two men arguing whether the Earth was flat or round. The king ended the argument by suggesting that both positions were right, calling it his "pizza theory."

Satirist Allan Sherman's song "Good Advice" climaxes with a description of Christopher Columbus prevailing on Queen Isabella to "pawn her jewels for all they're worth. / So next day he set sail / and as everyone knows / he fell off the edge of the earth. / And that was bad advice, bad advice..."

Ernie Kovacs, in a radio skit called "Mr. Question Man", put a twist on the usual stereotyped skepticism of the round Earth. An alleged listener's question was, "If the Earth is round, why don't people fall off?" Kovacs' answer: "What you've stated is a common misconception. People are falling off all the time!"

The comedian Flip Wilson, in an old standup routine playing Christopher Columbus, put a different spin on the old joke. Arguing with someone over whether to take his famous voyage, he was told, "Don't you know the world is square?" He replied, "It sure is!".

In song lyrics, in the musical comedy film Gigi, by Alan J. Lerner is the line "The earth is round, but everything on it is flat."

In Cow & Chicken after Chicken and Cow were playing with the globe, their parents confiscated the globe, their father stepped and flattened the globe and taught them that the Earth is flat like a pancake. In the end of the episode the Chicken and Cow family were sailing in the sea and their boat fell off the edge of the world, confirming what their parents said.

Our Flat Earth is the name of a Chicago late night comedy show that uses Flat Earth theory to parody intelligent design and religious conservatism.

British songwriter Thomas Dolby released his second album The Flat Earth in 1984, which included the title song. A portion of the lyric: "the Earth can be any shape you want it / any shape at all / dark and cold or bright and warm / long or thin or small / but it's home and all I ever had / and maybe why for me the Earth is flat".



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