Hesiod described our world’s uniform plane
as Achilles’ shield afloat
on the river Oceanus. A belief
that stood until Pythagoras
observed the shape of the moon’s terminator
in orbital cycle. And though more than a millennium
of scientific progress has brought
enough space exploration
and satellite imaging for Earth’s curvature
to no longer be a question
but a logo, flattened only
by mass-produced renderings,
there are still some who are looking for any reason
to disprove what’s been proven.
The privilege of their disbelief sharpened,
brandished like a switchblade,
on countless message boards and forums,
those newest, darkest alleys of the cultural zeitgeist
where we mug only ourselves.
Because if the earth were really a spinning chunk of rock,
a helicopter could hover in place,
its pilot waiting for their destination to appear
on the skyline. And any bullet
fired straight up would land at least a hundred feet
east or west of its origin.
But none of this really explains
why some can’t accept even the simplest terms
of our shared gravitational experience.
Most claims of grand deception
are a response to a perceived injustice (JFK, aliens,
capitalism, etc.). So if the earth is flat
it begs a question: who benefits from the lie?
Who wants our world to be spherical
rather than some verdant placemat, or giant Petri dish
enclosed by walls of ice that keep
the water in and monsters out? It’s always someone.
The Illuminati or the Free Masons. Surrogates
for whatever forces we’re convinced
are at work molding our happiness into bricks
that some shadowy They uses
to wall up its brief windows. But what if
this time it isn’t them?
Instead, what if our injustice
is self-inflicted? Because if the earth is flat,
we can’t be confident that
putting one foot in front of the other doesn’t
just move us towards an end.
An end that might even be worse than
all those years spent walking.
The more artless among us have named this gamble faith.
But even a true believer might admit
that by refusing to accept
what we haven’t borne witness to,
our ignorance is tenuous
as any higher power’s charity.
At least the tyranny of Pythagoras turns our world,
so that we’re forced to face ourselves.
We know the truth. We see it
coming on the horizon.