Rectangles: I hate rectangles. Rectangular screens, rectangular paper, rectangular books…. Rectangles are everywhere. But they are a singularly unnatural shape. Pentagons, hexagons, spirals, circles all abound in nature. But try to find a rectangular flower, insect hive or tortoise shell pattern. Nature scorns the rectangle. Yet, humans surround themselves with the wretched shape. Rooms are rectangular; chess is cut into squares (yes, it’s a type of rectangle); pillows, towels, beds, treadmills, paper bags, windows, doors, movie screens, televisions, phones… all rectangles.
Have you ever wondered why cameras have round lenses but take rectangular pictures? And why do people place rectangular glasses in front of their eyes to see through, when eyes do not perceive a rectangular image of the world? Why must we force our reality into a rectangular box?
I suppose there are practical reasons for some of our rectangles. I guess that cereal boxes are easier to manufacture as rectilinear prisms than some other polyhedron. But I suspect that the reason that houses, yards, gardens and bathtubs tend to be rectangular has to do with a primordial deep-seated fear held by our species: the fear of nature.
Let’s take a look at decorative gardens. They are clearly an attempt to control nature, to box it off. The woods were always very frightening to people who didn’t live in the woods. So they take a bit of nature – a hedge, say – and control it. They give it very strict boundaries. Sure, some gardens may all squiggly shaped, but the basic variety is like a sandbox: a rectangle.
Ever since I can remember, I’ve disliked rectangles. I wanted to live in a round house. I drew comic strips spilling outside of the expected boxes. I’ve always hated the way cars looked – even with their softened corners, they are still just rectangles on wheels. When I made my own books as a kid, I would cut the pages round. I used to make my own note paper, careful cutting the pages out in the organic shape of hands or the random shape of crumpled paper. I have done my part to resist rectangles, but they are so omnipresent: Square buttons on my keyboard; rectangular shelves holding rectangular DVD boxes and rectangular DVD players.
If you, too, resent being boxed in by rectangular culture, I need your help. Let’s start a revolution against the rectangle. We’ll call the movement “Wreck & Tangle.” We’ll give other shapes a chance. The triangle is very much under-appreciated, as is the oval. Let’s do our part to break free of our oppressive, self-imposed rectilinear prisons.
And now, this: