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Four-Dimensional Vistas by Claude Fayette Bragdon

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Claude Bragdon


New York

"_Perception has a destiny_."


There are two notable emancipations of the mind from the tyranny of
mere appearances that have received scant attention save from
mathematicians and theoretical physicists.

In 1823 Bolyai declared with regard to Euclid's so-called axiom of
parallels, "I will draw two lines through a given point, both of
which will be parallel to a given line." The drawing of these lines
led to the concept of the curvature of space, and this to the idea
of _higher_ space.

The recently developed Theory of Relativity has compelled the
revision of the time concept as used in classical physics. One
result of this has been to introduce the notion of _curved_ time.

These two ideas, of curved time and higher space, by their very
nature are bound to profoundly modify human thought. They loosen the
bonds within which advancing knowledge has increasingly labored,
they lighten the dark abysses of consciousness, they reconcile the
discoveries of Western workers with the inspirations of Eastern
dreamers; but best of all, they open vistas, they offer "glimpses
that may make us less forlorn."



The Undiscovered Country--Miracles--The Failure of Common Sense--The
Function of Science--Mathematics--Intuition--Our Sense of Space--The
Subjectivity of Space--The Need of an Enlarged Space-Concept.


Learning to Think in Terms of Spaces--From the Cosmos to the
Corpuscle--And Beyond--Evolution as Space-Conquest--Dimensional
Sequences--Man the Geometer--Higher, and Highest, Space.


Looking for the Greater in the Less--Symmetry--Other Allied
Phenomena--Isomerism--The Orbital Motion of Spheres: Cell-Subdivision--
The Electric Current--The Greater Universe--A Hint from Astronomy--
Gravitation--The Ether of Space.


Zoellner--Apparitions--Possession--Clairvoyance in Space--Clairvoyance
in Time--Pisgah Sights of Life's Pageant.


Time from the Standpoint of Experiment and of Conscious Experience--
Relativity--The Spoon-Man--The Orbital Movement of Time--Materiality
the Mirror of Consciousness--Periodicity.


Sleep--Dreams--Time in Dreams--The Eastern Teaching in regard to Sleep
and Dreams--Space in Dreams--The Phenomenon of Pause.


The Field of Psychic Research--Modifying the Past--Karma and
Reincarnation--Colonel De Rochas' Experiments.


Oriental Physics and Metaphysics--The Self-Recovered Memory of past


Hermes Trismegistus--The Page and the Press--The Ship and its
Captain--Direct Vision--Plato's Shadow-Watchers--Swedenborg--Man,
the Space-Eater--The Within and Without--Intuition and Reason--The
Coil of Life.


Immanence--Timelessness--Beyond Good and Evil: Beauty--The Daemonic--
"A Dream and a Forgetting"--The Play of Brahm.


Concept and Conduct--Selflessness--Humility--Solidarity--Live Openly--
Non-Resistance to Evil--The Immanent Divine.




Expectancy of freedom is the dominant note of to-day. Amid the crash
of armies and the clash of systems we await some liberating stroke
which shall release us from the old dreary thralldoms. As Nietzsche
says, "It would seem as though we had before us, as a reward for all
our toils, a country still undiscovered, the horizons of which no
one has yet seen, a beyond to every country and every refuge of the
ideal that man has ever known, a world so overflowing with beauty,
strangeness, doubt, terror and divinity, that both our curiosity and
our lust of possession are frantic with eagerness."

Should a name be demanded for this home of freedom, there are those
who would unhesitatingly call it _The Fourth Dimension of Space_.
For such readers as may be ignorant of the amazing content of this
seemingly meaningless phrase, any summary attempt at enlightenment
will lead only to deeper mystification. To the question, where and
what is the fourth dimension, the answer must be, it is here--in us,
and all about us--in a direction toward which we can never point
because at right angles to all the directions that we know. Our
space cannot contain it, because it contains our space. No walls
separate us from this demesne, not even the walls of our fleshly
prison; yet we may not enter, even though we are already "there." It
is the place of dreams, of living dead men: it is _At the Back of
the North Wind_ and _Behind the Looking Glass_.

So might one go on, piling figure upon figure and paradox upon
paradox, to little profit. The effective method is the ordered and
deliberate one; therefore the author asks of his reader the
endurance of his curiosity pending certain necessary preparations of
the mind.


Could one of our aviators have landed in ancient Athens, doubtless
he would have been given a place in the Greek Pantheon, for the old
idea of a demigod was a man with wings. Why, then, does a flying man
so little amaze us? Because we know about engines, and the smell of
gasoline has dulled our sense of the sublime. The living voice of a
dead man leaves us unterrified if only we can be sure that it comes
from a phonograph; but let that voice speak to us out of vacancy and
we fall a prey to the same order of alarm that is felt by a savage
at the report of a gun that he has never seen.

This illustration very well defines the nature of a miracle: it is a
manifestation of power new to experience, and counter to the current
thought of the time, Miracles are therefore always in order, they
always happen. It is nothing that the sober facts of to-day are more
marvellous than the fictions of Baron Munchausen, so long as we
understand them: it is everything that phenomena are multiplying,
that we are unable to understand. This increasing pressure upon
consciousness _from a new direction_ has created a need to found
belief on something firmer than a bottomless gullibility of mind.
This book is aimed to meet that need by giving the mind the freedom
of new spaces; but before it can even begin to do so, the reader
must be brought to see the fallacy of attempting to measure the
limits of the possible by that faculty known as common sense. And by
common sense is meant, not the appeal to abstract reason, but to
concrete experience.


Common sense had scarce had its laugh at Bell, and its shout of
"I told you so!" at poor Langley, when lo! the telephone became the
world's nervous system, and aeroplanes began to multiply like summer
flies. To common sense the alchemist's dream of transmuting lead
into gold seems preposterous, yet in a hundred laboratories radium
is breaking down into helium, and the new chemistry bids fair to
turn the time-honored jeer at the alchemists completely upside down.
A wife whose mind was oriented in the new direction effectually
silenced her husband's ridicule of what he called her credulity by
reminding him that when wireless telegraphy was first suggested he
had exclaimed, "Ah, that, you know, is one of the things that is not
possible!" He was betrayed by his common sense.

The lessons such things teach us are summed up in the reply of Arago,
the great savant, to the wife of Daguerre. She asked him if he
thought her husband was losing his mind because he was trying to
make permanent the image in a mirror. Arago is said to have answered,
"He who, outside of pure mathematics, says a thing is impossible,
speaks without reason."

Common sense neither leads nor lags, but is ever limited to the
passing moment: the common knowledge of to-day was the mystery and
enchantment of the day before yesterday, and will be the mere
commonplace of the day after to-morrow. If common sense can so
little anticipate the ordinary and orderly advancement of human
knowledge, it is still less able to take that leap into the dark
which is demanded of it now. The course of wisdom is therefore to
place reliance upon reason and intuition, leaving to common sense
the task of guiding the routine affairs of life, and guiding these


In enlisting the aid of reason in our quest for freedom, we shall be
following in the footsteps of mathematicians and theoretical
physicists. In their arduous and unflinching search after truth they
have attained to a conception of the background of phenomena of far
greater breadth and grandeur than that of the average religionist of
to-day. As a mathematician once remarked to a neo-theosophist,
"Your idea of the ether is a more material one than the materialist's
own." Science has, however, imposed upon itself its own limitations,
and in this connection these should be clearly understood.

Science is that knowledge which can be gained by exact observation
and correct thinking. If science makes use of any methods but these
it ceases to be itself. Science has therefore nothing to do with
morals: it gives the suicide his pistol, the surgeon his life-saving
lance, but neither admonishes nor judges them. It has nothing to do
with emotion: it exposes the chemistry of a tear, the mechanism of
laughter; but of sorrow and happiness it has naught to say. It has
nothing to do with beauty: it traces the movements of the stars, and
tells of their constitution; but the fact of their singing together,
and that "such harmony is in immortal souls," it leaves to poet and
philosopher. The timbre, loudness, pitch, of musical tones, is a
concern of science; but for this a Beethoven symphony is no better
than the latest ragtime air from the music halls. In brief, science
deals only with _phenomena_, and its gift to man is power over his
material environment.


The gift of pure mathematics, on the other hand, is primarily to the
mind and spirit: the fact that man uses it to get himself out of his
physical predicaments is more or less by the way. Consider for a
moment this paradox. Mathematics, the very thing common sense swears
by and dotes on, contradicts common sense at every turn. Common
sense balks at the idea of _less than nothing_; yet the _minus_
quantity, which in one sense is less than nothing in that something
must be added to it to make it equal to nothing, is a concept
without which algebra would have to come to a full stop. Again, the
science of quaternions, or more generally, a vector analysis in
which the progress of electrical science is essentially involved,
embraces (explicitly or implicitly) the extensive use of _imaginary_
or _impossible_ quantities of the earlier algebraists. The very
words "imaginary" and "impossible" are eloquent of the defeat of
common sense in dealing with concepts with which it cannot
practically dispense, for even the negative or imaginary solutions
of imaginary quantities almost invariably have some physical
significance. A similar statement might also be made with regard to
_transcendental_ functions.

Mathematics, then, opens up ever new horizons, and its achievements
during the past one hundred years give to thought the very freedom
it seeks. But if science is dispassionate, mathematics is even more
austere and impersonal. It cares not for teeming worlds and hearts
insurgent, so long as in the pure clarity of space, relationships
exist. Indeed, it requires neither time nor space, number nor
quantity. As the mathematician approaches the limits already
achieved by study, the colder and thinner becomes the air and the
fewer the contacts with the affairs of every day. The Promethean
fire of pure mathematics is perhaps the greatest of all in man's
catalogue of gifts; but it is not most itself, but least so, when,
immersed in the manifoldness of phenomenal life, it is made to serve
purely utilitarian ends.


Common sense, immersed in the mere business of living, knows no more
about life than a fish knows about water. The play of reason upon
phenomena dissects life, and translates it in terms of inertia. The
pure logic of mathematics ignores life and disdains its limitations,
leading away into cold, free regions of its own. Now our desire for
freedom is not to vibrate in a vacuum, but to live more abundantly.
_Intuition_ deals with life directly, and introduces us into
life's own domain: it is related to reason as flame is related to
heat. All of the great discoveries in science, all of the great
solutions in mathematics, have been the result of a _flash_ of
intuition, after long brooding in the mind. _Intuition illumines_.
Intuition is therefore the light which must guide us into that
undiscovered country conceded by mathematics, questioned by science,
denied by common sense--_The Fourth Dimension of Space_.


Space has been defined as "room to move about." Let us accord to
this definition the utmost liberty of interpretation. Let us
conceive of space not alone as room to move ponderable bodies in,
but as room to think, to feel, to strike out in unimaginable
directions, to overtake felicities and knowledges unguessed by
experience and preposterous to common sense. Space is not measurable:
we attribute dimensionality to space because such is the method of
the mind; and that dimensionality we attribute to space is
progressive because progression is a law of the mind. The so-called
dimensions of space are to space itself as the steps that a climber
cuts in the face of a cliff are to the cliff itself. They are not
necessary to the cliff: they are necessary only to the climber.
Dimensionality is the mind's method of mounting to the idea of the
infinity of space. When we speak of the fourth dimension, what we
mean is the fourth stage in the apprehension of that infinity. We
might as legitimately speak of a fifth dimension, but the
profitlessness of any discussion of a fifth and higher stages lies
in the fact that they can be intelligently approached only through
the fourth, which is still largely unintelligible. The case is like
that of a man promised an increase of wages after he had worked a
month, who asks for his second month's pay before he is entitled to
the first.


Without going deep into the doctrine of the ideality--that is, the
purely subjective reality--of space, it is easy to show that we have
arrived at our conception of a space of three dimensions by an
intellectual process. The sphere of the senses is two-dimensional:
except for the slight aid afforded by binocular vision, sight gives
us moving pictures _on a plane_, and touch contacts _surfaces_ only.
What circumstances, we may ask, have compelled our intellect to
conceive of _solid_ space? This question has been answered as follows:

"If a child contemplates his hand, he is conscious of its existence
in a double manner--in the first place by its tangibility, the
second by its image on the retina of his eye. By repeated groping
about and touching, the child knows by experience that his hand
retains the same form and extension through all the variations of
distance and position under which it is observed, notwithstanding
that the form and extension of the image on the retina constantly
change with the different position and distance of his hand in
respect to his eye. The problem is thus set to the child's
understanding: how to reconcile to his comprehension the apparently
contradictory facts of the _invariableness_ of the object together
with the _variableness_ of its appearance. This is only possible
within a space of three dimensions, in which, owing to perspective
distortions and changes, these variations of projection can be
reconciled with the constancy of the form of a body."

Thus we have come to the idea of a three-dimensional space in order
to overcome the apparent contradictoriness of facts of sensible
experience. Should we observe in three-dimensional space
contradictory facts our reason would be forced to reconcile these
contradictions, also, and if they could be reconciled by the idea of
a four-dimensional space our reason would accept this idea without
cavil. Furthermore, if from our childhood, phenomena had been of
daily occurrence requiring a space of four or more dimensions for an
explanation conformable to reason, we should feel ourselves native
to a space of four or more dimensions.

Poincare, the great French mathematician and physicist, arrived at
these same conclusions by another route. By a process of
mathematical reasoning of a sort too technical to be appropriately
given here, he discovers an order in which our categories range
themselves naturally, and which corresponds with the points of space;
and that this order presents itself in the form of what he calls a
"three circuit distribution board." "Thus the characteristic property
of space," he says, "that of having three dimensions, is only a
property of our distribution board, _a property residing, so to speak,
in human intelligence_." He concludes that a different association
of ideas would result in a different distribution board, and that
might be sufficient to endow space with a fourth dimension. He
concedes that there may be thinking beings, living in our world,
whose distribution board has four dimensions, and who do
consequently think in hyperspace.


It is the contrariety in phenomena already referred to, that is
forcing advanced minds to entertain the idea of higher space.
Mathematical physicists have found that experimental contradictions
disappear if, instead of referring phenomena to a set of three space
axes and one time axis of reference, they be referred to a set of
four interchangeable axes involving four homogeneous co-ordinates.
In other words, _time_ is made the fourth dimension. Psychic
phenomena indicate that occasionally, in some individuals,
the will is capable of producing physical movements for whose
geometrico-mathematical definition a four-dimensional system of
co-ordinates is necessary. This is only another step along the road
which the human mind has always travelled: our conception of the
cosmos grows more complete and more just at the same time that it
recedes more and more beneath the surface of appearances.

Far from the Higher Space Hypothesis complicating thought, it
simplifies by synthesis and co-ordination in a manner analogous to
that by which plane geometry is simplified when solid geometry
becomes a subject of study. By immersing the mind in the idea of
many dimensions, we emancipate it from the idea of dimensionality.
But the mind moves most readily, as has been said, in ordered
sequence. Frankly submitting ourselves to this limitation, even
while recognizing it as such, let us learn such lessons from it as
we can, serving the illusions that master us until we have made them
our slaves.



The Reader who is willing to consider the Higher Space Hypothesis
seriously, who would discover, by its aid, new and profound truths
closely related to life and conduct, should first of all endeavor to
arouse in himself a new power of perception. This he will best
accomplish by learning to discern dimensional sequences, not alone
in geometry, but in the cosmos and in the natural world. By so doing
he may erect for himself a veritable Jacob's ladder,

"Pitched between Heaven and Charing Cross."

He should accustom himself to ascend it, step by step, dimension by
dimension. Then he will learn to trust Emerson's dictum, "Nature
geometrizes," even in regions where the senses fail him, and the mind
alone leads on. Much profitable amusement is to be gained by such
exercises as follow. They are in the nature of a running up and down
the scales in order to give strength and flexibility to a new set of
mental fingers. Learning to think in terms of spaces contributes to
our emancipation from the tyranny of space.


By way of a beginning, proceed, by successive stages, from the
contemplation of the greatest thing conceivable to the contemplation
of the most minute, and note the space sequences revealed by this
shifting of the point of view.

The greatest thing we can form any conception of is the starry
firmament made familiar to the mind through the study of astronomy.
No limit to this vastitude has ever been assigned. Since the
beginning of recorded time, the earth, together with the other
planets and the sun, has been speeding through interstellar space at
the rate of 300,000,000 miles a year, without meeting or passing a
single star. A ray of light, travelling with a velocity so great as
to be scarcely measurable within the diameter of the earth's orbit,
takes years to reach even the nearest star, centuries to reach those
more distant. Viewed in relation to this universe of suns, our
particular sun and all its satellites--of which the earth is
one--shrinks to a point (a _physical_ point, so to speak--not
geometrical one).

The mind recoils from these immensities: let us forsake them, then,
for more familiar spaces, and consider the earth in its relation to
the sun. Our planet appears as a _moving_ point, tracing out a
_line_--a _one-space_--its path around the sun. Now let us remove
ourselves in imagination only far enough from the earth for human
beings thereon to appear as minute moving things, in the semblance,
let us say, of insects infesting an apple. It is clear that from
this point of view these beings have a freedom of movement in their
"space" (the surface of the earth), of which the larger unit is not
possessed; for while the earth itself can follow only a _line_, its
inhabitants are free to move in the two dimensions of the surface of
the earth.

Abandoning our last coign of vantage, let us descend in imagination
and mingle familiarly among men. We now perceive that these
creatures which from a distance appeared as though flat upon the
earth's surface, are in reality erect at right angles to its plane,
and that they are endowed with the power to move their members in
_three dimensions_. Indeed, man's ability to traverse the surface
of the earth is wholly dependent upon his power of three-dimensional
movement. Observe that with each transfer of our attention from
greater units to smaller, we appear to be dealing with a power of
movement in an additional dimension.

Looking now in thought not _at_ the body of man, but _within_ it, we
apprehend an ordered universe immensely vast in proportion to that
physical ultimate we name the electron, as is the firmament immensely
vast in proportion to a single star. It has been suggested that in
the infinitely minute of organic bodies there is a power of movement
in a _fourth_ dimension. If so, such four-dimensional movement may
be the proximate cause of the phenomenon of _growth_--of those
chemical changes and renewals whereby an organism is enabled to
expand in three-dimensional space, just as by a three-dimensional
power of movement (the act of walking) man is able to traverse his
two-dimensional space--the surface of the earth.


Proceed still further. Behind such organic change--assumed to be
four-dimensional--there is the determination of some _will-to-live_,
which manifests itself to consciousness as thought and as desire.
Into these the idea of space does not enter: we think of them as in
_time_. But if there are developments of other dimensions of space,
thought and emotion may themselves be discovered to have space
relations; that is, they may find expression in the forms of _higher_
spaces. Thus is opened up one of those rich vistas in which the
subject of the fourth dimension abounds, but into which we
can only glance in passing. If there are such higher-dimensional
_thought-forms_, our normal consciousness, limited to a world of
three dimensions, can apprehend only their three-dimensional aspects,
and these not simultaneously, but successively--that is, in _time_.
According to this view, any unified series of _actions_--for example,
the life of an individual, or of a group--would represent the
straining, so to speak, of a thought-form through our _time_, as the
bodies subject to these actions would represent its straining
through our space.


Evolution is a struggle for, and a conquest of, space; for evolution,
as the word implies, is a _drawing out_ of what is inherent from
latency into objective reality, or in other words into spatial--and

This struggle for space, by means of which the birth and growth of
organisms is achieved, is the very texture of life, the plot of
every drama. Cells subdivide; micro-organisms war on one another;
plants contend for soil, light, moisture; flowers cunningly suborn
the bee to bring about their nuptials; animals wage deadly warfare
in their rivalry to bring more hungry animals into a space-hungry
world. Man is not exempt from this law of the jungle. Nations
intrigue and fight for land--of which wealth is only the symbol--and
a nation's puissance is measured by its power to push forward into
the territory of its neighbor. The self-same impulse drives the
individual. One measure of the difference between men in the matter
of efficiency is the amount of space each can command: one has a
house and grounds in some locality where every square inch has an
appreciable value; another some fractional part of a lodging house
in the slums. When this bloodless, but none the less deadly, contest
for space becomes acute, as in the congested quarters of great cities,
man's ingenuity is taxed to devise effective ways of augmenting his
_space-potency_, and he expands in a vertical direction. This
third-dimensional extension, typified in the tunnel and in the
skyscraper, is but the latest phase of a conquest of space which
began with the line of the pioneer's trail through an untracked


Not only does nature everywhere geometrize, but she does so in a
particular way, in which we discover dimensional sequences. Consider
the transformation of solid, liquid, gas, from one to another, under
the influence of heat. A solid, set in free motion, can follow only
a _line_--as is the case of a thrown ball. A liquid has the added
power of lateral extension. Its tendency, when intercepted, is to
spread out in the two dimensions of a _plane_--as in the case of a
griddle cake; while a gas expands universally in all directions, as
shown by a soap-bubble. It is a reasonable inference that the fourth
state of matter, the corpuscular, is affiliated to some
four-dimensional manner of extension, and that there may be states
beyond this, involving even higher development of space.

Next glance at the vegetable kingdom. The seed, a _point_, generates
a _line_ system, in stem, branches, twigs, from which depend _planes_
in the form of leaves and flowers, and from these come fruit,

"The point, the line, the surface and the sphere,
In seed, stem, leaf and fruit appear."

A similar sequence may be noted within the body: the _line_-network
of the nerves conveys the message of sensation from the _surface_ of
the body to some center in the _solid_, of the brain--and thence to
the Silent Thinker, "he who is without and within," or in terms of
our hypothesis, "he who dwells in higher space."


When man essays the role of creator he cannot do otherwise than
follow similar sequences: it is easy to discern dimensional
progression in the products of man's ingenuity and skill. Consider,
for example, the evolution of a building from its inception to its
completion. It exists first of all in the mind of the architect, and
there it is indubitably higher-spatial, for he can interpenetrate
and examine every part, and he can consider it all at once, viewing
it simultaneously from without and from within, just as one would be
able to do in a space of four dimensions. He begins to give his idea
physical embodiment by making with a pencil-_point, lines_ on a
_plane_ (a piece of paper), the third dimension being represented
by means of the other two. Next (if he is careful and wise) he makes
a three-dimensional model. From the architect's drawings the engineer
establishes his points, lays out his angles, and runs his lines upon
the site itself. The mason follows, and with his footing courses
makes ponderable and permanent the lines of the engineer. These
lines become in due course walls--vertical planes. Floors and
roofs--horizontal planes--follow, until some portion of
three-dimensional space has been enclosed.

Substantially the same sequence holds, whatever the kind of building
or the character of the construction--whether a steel-framed
skyscraper or a wooden shanty. A line system, represented by columns
and girders in the one case, and by studs and rafters in the other,
becomes, by overlay or interposition, a system of planes, so
assembled and correlated as to define a solid.

With nearly everything of man's creating--be it a bureau or a
battleship--the process is as above described. First, a pattern to
scale; next, an actual linear framework; then planes defining a solid.
Consider almost any of the industries practiced throughout the ages:
they may be conceived of thus in terms of dimensions; for example,
those ancient ones of weaving and basket making. _Lines_ (threads in
the one case, rushes in the other) are wrought into _planes_ to
clothe a body or to contain a burden. Or think, if you choose, of
the modern industry of book-making, wherein types are assembled,
impressed upon sheets of paper, and these bound into volumes--
_points, lines, planes, solids_. The book in turn becomes the unit
of another dimensional order, in the library whose serried shelves
form lines, which, combined into planes, define the lateral limits
of the room.


These are truisms. What have they to do, it may be asked, with the
idea of _higher_ spaces? They have everything to do with it, for in
achieving the enclosure of any portion of solid space the limit of
known dimensions has been reached without having come to any end.
More dimensions--higher spaces--are required to account for higher
things. All of the products of man's ingenuity are inanimate except
as he himself animates them. They remain as they were made, machines,
not organisms. They have no inherent life of their own, no power of
growth and renewal. In this they differ from animate creation
because the highest achievement of the creative faculty in man in a
mechanical way lacks the life principle possessed by the plant. And
as the most perfect machine is inferior in this respect to the
humblest flower that grows, so is the highest product of the
vegetable kingdom inferior to man himself, the maker of the machine;
for he can reflect upon his own and the world's becoming, while the
plant can only become.

What is the reason for these differences of power and function?
According to the Higher Space Hypothesis they are due to varying
potencies of movement in the secret causeways and corridors of space.
The higher functions of consciousness--volition, emotion,
intellection--may be in some way correlated with the higher powers
of numbers, and with the corresponding higher developments of space.
Thus would the difference between physics and metaphysics become a
difference of degree and not of kind. Evolution is to be conceived
of as a continuous pushing back of the boundary between
representation and reality, or as a conquest of space. We may
conceive of space as of an infinite number of dimensions, and of
consciousness as a moving--or rather as an expanding--point,
embracing this infinity, involving worlds, powers, knowledges,
felicities, within itself in everlasting progression.



After the assured way in which the author has conducted the reader
repeatedly up and down the dimensional ladder, it may be a surprise
to learn that physical phenomena offer no irrefragable evidences of
hyper-dimensionality. We could not think in higher space if
consciousness were limited to three dimensions. The mathematical
reality of higher space is never in question: the higher dimensions
are as valid as the lower, but the hyper-dimensionality of matter is
still unproven. Man's ant-like efforts to establish this as a truth
have thus far been vain.

Lest this statement discourage the reader at the very outset, he
should understand the reason for such failure. We are _embedded_ in
our own space, and if that space be embedded in higher space, how are
we going to discover it? If space is curved, how are we going to
measure its curvature? Our efforts to do so may be compared to
measuring the distance between the tips of a bent bow by measuring
along the bow instead of along the string.

Imagine a scientifically-minded threadworm to inhabit a page of
Euclid's solid geometry: the evidences of three-dimensionality are
there, in the very diagrams underneath his eyes; but you could not
_show_ him a solid--the flat page could not contain it, any more
than our space can contain a form of four dimensions. You could only
say to him, "These lines _represent_ a solid." He would have to
depend on his _faith_ for belief and not on that "knowledge gained
by exact observation and correct thinking" in which alone the
scientist finds a sure ground for understanding.

It is an axiom of science never to look outside three-space horizons
for an understanding of phenomena when these can logically be
accounted for within those horizons. Now because, on the Higher
Space Hypothesis, each space is the container of all phenomena of
its own order, the futility, for practical purposes, of going
outside is at once apparent. The highly intelligent threadworm
neither knows nor cares that the point of intersection of two lines
in his diagram _represents_ a point in a space to which he is a
stranger. The point is there, on his page: it is what he calls a
_fact_. "Why raise" (he says) "these puzzling and merely academic
questions? Why attempt to turn the universe completely upside down?"

But though no _proofs_ of hyper-dimensionality have been found in
nature, there are equally no contradictions of it, and by using a
method not inductive, but deductive, the Higher Space Hypothesis
is plausibly confirmed. Nature affords a sufficient number of
_representations_ of four-dimensional forms and movements to justify
their consideration.


Let us first flash the light of our hypothesis upon an all but
universal characteristic of living forms, yet one of the most

Animal life exhibits the phenomenon of the right-and left-handed
symmetry of solids. This is exemplified in the human body, wherein
the parts are symmetrical with relation to the axial _plane_.
Another more elementary type of symmetry is characteristic of the
vegetable kingdom. A leaf in its general contour is symmetrical:
here the symmetry is about a _line_--the midrib. This type of
symmetry is readily comprehensible, for it involves simply a
revolution through 180 degrees. Write a word on a piece of paper and
quickly fold it along the line of writing so that the wet ink
repeats the pattern, and you have achieved the kind of symmetry
represented in a leaf.

With the symmetry of solids, or symmetry with relation to an axial
_plane_, no such simple movement as the foregoing suffices to
produce or explain it, because symmetry about a plane implies
_four-dimensional_ movement. It is easy to see why this must be so.
In order to achieve symmetry in any space--that is, in any given
number of dimensions--there must be revolution in the next higher
space: one more dimension is necessary. To make the (two-dimensional)
ink figure symmetrical, it had to be folded over _in the third
dimension_. The revolution took place about the figure's _line_ of
symmetry, and in a _higher_ dimension. In _three_-dimensional
symmetry (the symmetry of solids) revolution must occur about the
figure's _plane_ of symmetry, and in a higher--i.e., the _fourth_
dimension. Such a movement we can reason about with mathematical
definiteness: we see the result in the right- and left-handed
symmetry of solids, but we cannot picture the movement ourselves
because it involves a space of which our senses fail to give any

Now could it be shown that the two-dimensional symmetry observed in
nature is the result of a three-dimensional movement, the right-and
left-handed symmetry of solids would by analogy be the result of a
_four_-dimensional movement. Such revolution (about a plane) would
be easily achieved, natural and characteristic, in four space, just
as the analogous movement (about a line) is easy, natural, and
characteristic, in our space of three dimensions.


In the mirror image of a solid we have a representation of what
would result from a four-dimensional revolution, the surface of the
mirror being the plane about which the movement takes place. If such
a change of position were effected in the constituent parts of a
body as a mirror image of it _represents_, the body would have
undergone a revolution in the fourth dimension. Now two varieties of
tartaric acid crystallize in forms bearing the relation to one
another of object to mirror image. It would seem more reasonable to
explain the existence of these two identical, but reversed,
varieties of crystal, by assuming the revolution of a single variety
in the fourth dimension, than by any other method.

There are two forms of sugar found in honey, dextrose and levulose.
They are similar in chemical constitution, but the one is the
reverse of the other when examined by polarized light--that is, they
rotate the plane of polarization of a ray of light in opposite ways.
If their atoms are conceived to have the power of motion in the
fourth dimension, it would be easy to understand why they differ.
Certain snails present the same characteristics as these two forms
of sugar. Some are coiled to the right and others to the left; and
it is remarkable that, like dextrose and levulose, their juices are
optically the reverse of each other when studied by polarized light.

Revolution in the fourth dimension would also explain the change in
a body from producing a right-handed, to producing a left-handed,
polarization of light.


In chemistry the molecules of a compound are assumed to consist of
the atoms of the elements contained in the compound. These atoms are
supposed to be at certain distances from one another. It sometimes
happens that two compound substances differ in their chemical or
physical properties, or both, even though they have like chemical
elements in the same proportion. This phenomenon is called isomerism,
and the generally accepted explanation is that the atoms in isomeric
molecules are differently arranged, or grouped, in space. It is
difficult to imagine how atoms, alike in number, nature, and
relative proportion, can be so grouped as somehow to produce
compounds with different properties, particularly as in
three-dimensional space four is the greatest number of points whose
mutual distances, six in number, are all independent of each other.
In four-dimensional space, however, the _ten_ equal distances
between any two of _five_ points are geometrically independent, thus
greatly augmenting the number and variety of possible arrangements
of atoms.

This just escapes being the kind of proof demanded by science. If
the independence of all the possible distances between the atoms of
a molecule is absolutely required by theoretical chemical research,
then science is really compelled, in dealing with molecules of more
than four atoms, to make use of the idea of a space of more than
three dimensions.


There is in nature another representation of hyper-dimensionality
which, though difficult to demonstrate, is too interesting and
significant to be omitted here.

Imagine a helix, intersected, in its vertical dimension, by a moving
plane. If necessary to assist the mind, suspend a spiral spring
above a pail of water, then raise the pail until the coils, one
after another, become immersed. The spring would represent the helix,
and the surface of the water the moving plane. Concentrating
attention upon this surface, you would see a point--the elliptical
cross-section of the wire where it intersected the plane--moving
round and round in a circle. Next conceive of the wire itself as a
lesser helix of many convolutions, and repeat the experiment. The
point of intersection would then continually return upon its own
track in a series of minute loops forming those lesser loops, which,
moving circle-wise, registered the involvement of the helix in the

It is easy to go on imagining complicated structures of the nature
of the spiral, and to suppose also that these structures are
distinguishable from each other at every section. If we think of the
intersection of these with the rising surface, as the atoms, or
physical units, of a plane universe, we shall have a world of
apparent motion, with bodies moving harmoniously amongst one another,
each a cross-section of some part of an unchanging and unmoving
three-dimensional entity.

Now augment the whole by an additional dimension--raise everything
one space. The helix of many helices would become four-dimensional,
and superficial space would change to solid space: each tiny circle
of intersection would become a sphere of the same diameter,
describing, instead of loops, helices. Here we would be among
familiar forms, describing familiar motions: the forms, for example,
of the earth and the moon and of their motion about the sun; of the
atom, as we imagine it, the molecule and the cell. For is not the
sphere, or ovoid, the unit form of nature; and is not the spiral
vortex its characteristic motion, from that of the nebula in the sky
to the electron in the atom? Thus, on the hypothesis that our space
is traversing four-dimensional space, and that the forms of our
space are cross-sections of four-dimensional forms, the unity and
harmony of nature would be accounted for in a remarkably simple

The above exercise of the imagination is a good preparation for the
next demand upon it. Conceive a dichotomous tree--one that always
divides into two branches--to pass through a plane. We should have,
as a plane section, a circle of changing size, which would elongate
and divide into two circles, each of which would do the same. This
reminds us of the segmentation of cell life observed under the
microscope, as though a four-dimensional figure were registering its
passage through our space.


Hinton conceived of an electric current as a four-dimensional vortex.
He declared that on the Higher Space Hypothesis the revolution of
the ether would yield the phenomenon of the electric current. The
reader is referred to Hinton's book, _The Fourth Dimension_, for an
extended development of this idea. What follows is a brief summary
of his argument. First, he examines the characteristics of a vortex
in a three-dimensional fluid. Then he conceives of what such a
vortex would be in a four-dimensional medium of analogous properties.
The whirl would be about a _plane_, and the contour of this plane
would correspond to the ends of the axis line in the former vortex;
and as before, the vortex would extend to the boundary. Every
electric current forms a closed circuit: this is equivalent to the
hyper-vortex having its ends in the boundary of the hyper-fluid. The
vortex with a _surface_ as its axis, therefore, affords a geometric
image of a closed circuit.

Hinton supposes a conductor to be a body which has the property
of serving as a terminal abutment to such a hyper-vortex as has
been described. The conception that he forms of a closed current,
therefore, is of a vortex sheet having its _edge_ along the
circuit of the conducting wire. The whole wire would then be like
the centers on which a spindle turns in three-dimensional space,
and any interruption of the continuity of the wire would produce
a _tension_ in place of a continuous revolution. The phenomena
of electricity--polarity, induction, and the like--are of the nature
of the stress and strain of a medium, but one possessing properties
unlike those of ordinary matter. The phenomena can be explained in
terms of higher space. If Hinton's hypothesis be the true explanation,
the universality of electro-magnetic action would again point to the
conclusion that our three-dimensional world is _superficial_--the
surface, that is, of a four-dimensional universe.


This practically exhausts the list of accepted and accredited
indications of hyper-dimensionality in our physical environment. But
if the collective human consciousness is moving into the fourth
dimension, such indications are bound to multiply out of all measure.
It should be remembered that in Franklin's day electricity was
manifest only in the friction of surfaces and in the thunderbolt.
To-day all physical phenomena, in their last analysis, are considered
to be electrical. The world is not different, but perception has
evolved, and is evolving.

There is another field, in which some of our ablest minds are
searching for evidences of the curvature of space, the field of
astronomy and astro-physics. But into this the layman hesitates to
enter because the experts themselves have found no common ground of
understanding. The ether of space is a battlefield strewn with dead
and dying hypotheses; gravitation, like multiplication, is vexation;
the very nature of time, form and movement is under vivid discussion,
in connection with what is known as the Theory of Relativity.

Notwithstanding these counter-currents of speculation, which should
make the wise man speak smilingly of his wisdom, this summary
remains incomplete without a reference to the pressure of higher
space upon those adventurous minds that essay to deal with the
profound problems of the greater universe, and a statement of the
reasons for their feeling this pressure. These reasons are well
suggested by Professor B.G. Harrison, in his _Popular Astronomy_. He
says: "With the idea of a universe of finite dimensions there is the
obvious difficulty of the beyond. The truth is that a universe of
finite proportions is equally difficult to realize as one of
infinite extent. Perhaps the nearest analogy to infinity that we can
understand lies in our conception of a closed curve. It seems easier
to imagine the endless movement of a sphere in a circular path than
the case of one travelling in a straight line. Possibly this analogy
may apply in some way to fourth-dimensional space, but the manner of
its application is certainly not easy to understand. If we would
imagine that all co-ordinates of time and space were curved, and
eventually return to the same point, it might bring the ultimate
comprehension one degree nearer."


The physical evidence that our space is thus curved in higher space,
some have considered astronomy to furnish in what is called the
"negative parallax" of certain distant stars. This cannot be passed
by, though it is too deeply involved with the probable error of the
observers themselves to be considered more than an interesting fact
in this connection. Every one knows that the difference of angle
under which an object is seen from two standpoints is called its
parallax. The parallax of the stars--and the consequent knowledge of
their distance--is obtained by observing them from opposite points
of the earth's orbit around the sun. When a star is within measurable
distance, these angles are acute, and the lines from the star to the
earth at opposite sides of its orbit converge, therefore. But when
these lines, as sometimes happens, appear to be _divergent_, the
result is called a _negative_ parallax, and is explainable by higher
space relationships. Obviously, the divergence of the lines would
indicate that the object lies _behind_ the observer instead of in
front of him. This anomaly can be explained by the curvature of space
in the fourth dimension. If space is so curved, the path of light
itself is curved also, and a man--were his vision immeasurably keen,
not to say telescopic--could see the back of his own head! It is not
worth while to give this question of negative parallax too much
importance, by reason of the probability of error, but in this
connection it should be stated that there appears to be an undue
number of negative parallaxes recorded.


Gravitation remains a puzzle to science. The tendency of modern
physics is to explain all material phenomena in terms of electrons
and the ether, but the attempt to account for gravitation in this
way is attended with difficulties. In order to cope with these, it
seems necessary to assume that our universe is only a portion of a
greater universe. This assumption readily lends itself to the
conception of our universe as a three-dimensional meeting place of
two portions of a universe of four dimensions--that is, its
conception as a "higher" surface. This is a fundamental postulate of
higher space speculation.

One hypothesis advanced to explain gravitation assumes the existence
of a constant hydrostatic pressure transmitted through the ether. A
steady flow of ether into every electron in a gravitating system of
bodies would give rise to forces of attraction between them, varying
inversely as the square of the distance, according to Newton's law.
But in order to avoid the conception of the continual destruction
and creation of ether, it is necessary to assume a steady flow
through every electron between our universe and the greater universe
of which it is assumed to form a part Now because the electrons, in
order to receive this flow, must lie on the boundary of this greater
universe, the latter must be four-dimensional. Every electron, in
other words, must be the starting point of a pathway into--and a
terminal point out of--four-dimensional space. Here we have another
familiar higher space concept.


The ether of space, because it has at last found entrance, must be
given a grudging hospitality in these pages, even though the
mysterious stranger prove but a ghost. The Relativists would have it
that with the acceptance of their point of view the ether may be
eliminated; but if they take away the ether, they must give us
something in its stead. In whatever way the science of the future
disposes of this problem, it must take into account the fact of
light transmission. On the theory that the ether is an elastic solid
of amazing properties, in which the light waves vibrate _transversely_
to their direction, it assists the mind to think of the ether as
four-dimensional, because then a light wave would be a superficial
disturbance of the medium--superficial, but three-dimensional, as
must needs be the case with the surface of a four-dimensional solid.

* * * * *

This search for evidences of hyper-dimensionality in the universe
accessible to our senses is like looking, not for a needle in a
haystack, but for a haystack in a needle--for the greater in the less.
From the purely physical evidences, all that can with certainty be
said is that the hypothesis is not inconsistent with the facts of
science or its laws; that it is being verified and rendered more
probable by the investigations of science; that it is applicable to
the description or explanation of all the observed phenomena, and
assigns a cause fully adequate to have produced them.

Now there is an order of phenomena that we call psychic. Because
they are phenomenal they cannot occur outside of time and space
altogether; because they are psychic they defy explanation in terms
of the space and time of every-day life. Let us next examine these
in the light of our hypothesis.



In the year 1877, Johann Friedrich Zoellner, professor of physics and
astronomy at the University of Leipsic, undertook to prove that
certain (so-called) psychic phenomena were susceptible of explanation
on the hypothesis of a four-dimensional space. He used as
illustrations the phenomena induced by the medium Henry Slade. By
the irony of events, Slade was afterward arrested and imprisoned for
fraud, in England. This fact so prejudiced the public mind against
Zoellner that his name became a word of scorn, and the fourth dimension
a synonym for what is fatuous and false. Zoellner died of it, but
since his death public opinion has undergone a change. There is a
great and growing interest in everything pertaining to the fourth
dimension, and belief in that order of phenomena upon which Zoellner
based his deductions is supported by evidence at once voluminous and

It is unnecessary to go into the question of the genuineness of the
particular phenomena which Zoellner witnessed. His conclusions are
alone important, since they apply equally to other manifestations,
whose authenticity has never been successfully impeached. Zoellner's
reasoning with regard to certain psychic phenomena is somewhat along
the following lines.


_The intrusion (as an apparition) of a person or thing into a
completely enclosed portion of three-space; or contrariwise, the
exit (as an evanishment) out of such a space_.

Because we lack the sense of four-dimensional space, we must here
have recourse to analogy, and assume three-dimensional space to be
the unsensed higher region encompassing a world of two dimensions,
To a hypothetical flat-man of a two-space, any portion of his plane
surrounded by an unbroken line would constitute an enclosure. Were
he confined within it, escape would be impossible by any means known
to him. Had he the ability to move in the third dimension, however,
he could rise, pass over the enclosing line without disturbing it,
and descend on the other side. The moment he forsook the plane he
would disappear from two-dimensional space. Such a disappearance
would constitute an occult phenomenon in a world of two dimensions.

Correspondingly, an evanishment from any three-dimensional
enclosure--such as a room with locked doors and windows--might be
effected by means of a movement in the fourth dimension. Because a
body would disappear from our perception the moment it forsook our
space, such a disappearance would be a mystery; it would constitute
an occult phenomenon. The thing would be no more mysterious, however,
to a consciousness embracing four dimensions within its ken, than
the transfer of an object from the inside to the outside of a plane
figure without crossing its linear boundary is mysterious to us.


_The temporary possession of a person's body, or some member of
that body, by an alien will, as exemplified in automatic writing and

It would doubtless amaze the scientifically orthodox to know how
many people habitually and successfully practice the dubious art of
automatic writing--not mediums, so-called, but people of refinement
and intelligence. Although the messages received in this way may
emanate from the subconscious mind of the performer, there is
evidence to indicate that they come sometimes from an intelligence
discarnate, or from a person remote from the recipient in space.

If such is indeed the case, if the will is extraneous, how does it
possess itself of the nerves and muscles of the hand of the writer?
The Higher Space Hypothesis is of assistance here. It is only
necessary to remember that from the fourth dimension the interior of
a solid is as much exposed as the interior of a plane figure is
exposed from the region of the third dimension. A four-dimensional
being would experience no difficulty, under suitable conditions, in
possessing itself of any part of the bodily mechanism of another.

The same would hold true in cases of possession and obsession; for
if the bastion of the hand can thus be captured, so also may the
citadel of the brain. Certain familiar forms of hypnotism are not
different from obsession, the hypnotizer using the brain and body of
his subject as though they were his own. All unconsciously to himself,
he has called into play four-dimensional mechanics. Many cases of
so-called dual personality are more easily explicable as possession
by an alien will than on the less credible hypothesis that the
character, habits, and language of a person can change utterly in a
moment of time.


_Vision at a distance and the exercise of a superior power of sight_.

Clairvoyance in space is of various kinds and degrees. Sometimes it
consists in the perception of super-physical phenomena--the
unfurling of a strange and wonderful land; and again it appears to
be a higher power of ordinary vision, a kind of seeing to which the
opacity of solids offers no impediment, or one involving spatial
distances too great and too impeded for normal physical vision to be

That clairvoyance which consists in the ability to perceive not
alone the superficies of things as ordinary vision perceives them,
but their interiors as well, is analogous to the power given by the
X-ray, by means of which, on a fluorescent screen, a man may behold
the beating of his own heart. But, if the reports of trained
clairvoyants are to be believed, there is this difference:
everything appears to them without the distortions due to perspective,
objects being seen as though they were inside and not outside of the
perceiving organ, or as though the observer were in the object
perceived; or in all places at the same time.

Our analogy makes all this intelligible. To the flat-man,
clairvoyance in space would consist in that power of perception
which we exercise in reference to his plane. From the third
dimension the boundaries of plane figures offer no impediment
to the view of their interiors, and they themselves in no way
impede our vision of surrounding objects. If we assume that
clairvoyance in space is the perception of the things of our world
from the region of the fourth dimension, the phenomena exactly
conform to the demands of our analogy. It is no more difficult
for a four-dimensional intelligence to understand the appearance
or disappearance of a body in a completely closed room, or the
withdrawal of an orange from its skin, without cutting or breaking
that skin, than it is for us to see the possibility of taking up a
pencil point from the center of a circle and putting it down outside.
We are under no compulsion to draw a line across the circumference
of the circle in order to enter or leave it. Moreover, the volume of
our sensible universe embraced in the clairvoyant's field of view
will increase in the same way that a balloonist's view increases in
area as he rises above the surface of the earth. To account for
clairvoyant vision at a distance, it is of course necessary to posit
some perceptive organ other than the eye, but the fact that in
trance the eyes are closed, itself demands this assumption.


_The perception of a past event as in process of occurring, or the
prevision of something which comes to pass later_.

No mechanistic explanation will serve to account for this order of
clairvoyance since it is inextricably involved in the mystery of
consciousness itself. Yet our already overworked analogy can perhaps
cast a little light even here.

To the flat-man, the third dimension of objects passing through his
plane translates itself to his experience into _time_. Were he
capable of rising in the positive direction of the third dimension,
he would have pre-vision, because he would be cognizant of that
which had not yet intersected his plane: by sinking in the negative
direction, he would have post-vision, because he could re-cognize
that which had already passed.

Now there are excellent reasons, other than those based on analogy,
that the fourth-dimensional aspect of things may manifest itself to
our ordinary experience, not as spatial extension, but as temporal
change. Then, if we conceive of clairvoyance as a transcending by
consciousness of our three-dimensional space, prevision and
post-vision would be logically possible as corresponding to the
positive and negative of the fourth dimension. This may be made
clearer by the aid of a homely illustration.


Suppose you are standing on a street corner, watching a procession
pass. You see the pageant as a sequence of objects and individuals
appearing into view near by and suddenly, and disappearing in the
same manner. This would represent our ordinary waking consciousness
of what goes on in the world round about. Now imagine that you walk
up the street in a direction opposite to that in which the
procession is moving. You then rapidly pass in review a portion of
the procession which had not yet arrived at the point you were a few
moments before. This would correspond to the seeing of something
before it "happened," and would represent the positive aspect of
clairvoyance in time--prevision. Were you to start from your
original position, and moving in the direction in which the
procession was passing, overtake it at some lower street corner, you
could witness the thing you had already seen. This would represent
post-vision--clairvoyance of the past.

A higher type of clairvoyance would be represented by the sweep of
vision possible from a balloon. From that place of vantage the
procession would be seen, not as a sequence, but simultaneously, and
could be traced from its formation to its dispersal. Past, present
and future would be merged in one.

It is true that this explanation raises more questions than it
answers: to account in this way for a marvel, a greater marvel must
be imagined--that of transport out of one's own "space." The whole
subject bristles with difficulties, not the least of which is that
even to conceive of such a thing as prevision all our old ideas
about time must be recast. This is being done in the Principle of
Relativity, a subject which may appropriately engage our attention



In some moment of "sudden light" what one of us has not been able to
say, with Rossetti,

"I have been here before,
But when or how I cannot tell."

Are such strange hauntings of our House of Life due to the cyclic
return of time? Perhaps,--but what is time?

Suppose some one should ask you, "What is an hour?" Your answer
might be, "It is the interval marked off by the clock-hand between 1
and 2." "But what if your clock is running down or speeding up?" To
this you would probably reply, "The clock is set and corrected by
the earth, the sun and the stars, which are constant in their
movements." _But they are not_. The earth is known to be running slow,
by reason of tide friction, and this is likely to continue until it
will revolve on its axis, not once a day, but once a year,
presenting always the same face to the sun.

We can only measure time by _uniform_ motion. Observe the vicious
circle. Uniform motion means the covering of equal spaces in equal
times. But how are we to determine our equal times? Ultimately we
have no other criterion save the uniform motion of the clock-hand or
the star dial. The very expressions, "uniform motion," "equal times,"
beg the whole question of the nature of time.

Let us then, in this predicament, consider time not from the
standpoint of experiment, but of conscious experience--what Bergson
calls "real duration."

Every point along the line of memory, of conscious experience, has
been traced out by that unresting stylus we call "the present moment."
The question of its rate of motion we will not raise, as it is one
with which we have found ourselves impotent to deal. We believe on
the best of evidence that the conscious experience of others is
conditioned like our own. For better understanding let us have
recourse to a homely analogy: let us think of these more or less
parallel lines of individual experience in the semblance of the
strands of a skein of flax. Now if, _at the present moment_, this
skein were cut with a straight knife at right angles to its length,
the cut end would represent the _time plane_--that is, the present
moment of all--and it would be the same for all providing that the
time plane were flat _But is it really flat_? Isn't the straightness
of the knife a mere poverty of human imagination? Existence is always
richer and more dramatic than any diagram.

"Line in nature is not found;
Unit and universe are round.
In vain produced, all rays return;
Evil will bless and ice will burn."

Undoubtedly the flat time-plane represents with fair accuracy the
temporal conditions that obtain in the human aggregate in this world
under normal conditions of consciousness, but if we consider our
relation to intelligent beings upon distant worlds of the visible
universe the conditions might be widely different The time section
corresponding to what our straight knife made flat in the case of
the flax may be--nay, probably is--strongly curved.


This crude analogy haltingly conveys what is meant by curved time.
It is an idea which is implicit in the Theory of Relativity. This
theory has profoundly modified many of our basic conceptions about
the universe in which we are immersed. It is outside the province of
this book and beyond the power of its author even so much as to
sketch the main outlines of this theory, but certain of its
conclusions are indispensable, since they baldly set forth our
dilemma in regard to the measurement of space and time. We can
measure neither except relatively, because they must be measured one
by the other, and no matter how they vary, these variations always
compensate one another, leaving us in the same state of ignorance
that we were in before.

Suppose that two intelligent beings, one on Mars, let us say, and
the other on the earth, should attempt to establish _the same moment
of time_, by the interchange of light signals, or by any other
method which the most rigorous science could devise. Assume that
they have for this purpose two identically similar and mechanically
perfect chronometers, and that every difficulty of manipulation were
successfully overcome. Their experiment could end only in failure,
and the measure of this failure neither one, in his own place, could
possibly know. If, after the experiment, the Martian, chronometer in
hand, could be instantly and miraculously transported to the earth,
and the two settings compared, they would be found to be different:
how different, we do not know.

The reason for the failure of any such experiment anywhere conducted
can best be made plain by a crude paraphrase of a classic
proposition from Relativity. Suppose it is required to determine the
same moment of time at two different places on the earth's surface,
as must be attempted in finding their difference in longitude. Take
the Observatory at Greenwich for one place, and the observatory at
Washington for the other. At the moment the sun is on the meridian
of Greenwich, the exact time of crossing is noted and cabled to
Washington. The chronometer at Washington is set accordingly, and
the time checked back to Greenwich. This message arrives two seconds,
say, after the original message was sent. Washington is at once
notified of this double transmission interval. On the assumption
that HALF of it represents the time the message took to travel from
east to west, and the other half the time from west to east again,
the Washington chronometer is set one second ahead of the signalled
time, to compensate for its part of the loss. When the sun has
reached the meridian of Washington, the whole process is repeated,
and again as before, half of the time the message has taken to cross
and recross the Atlantic is added to the Greenwich record of noon at
Washington. The number of hours, minutes, seconds, and fractions of
a second between these two corrected records represents the
difference in solar time between the two places, and incidentally
the same moment of time has been established for both--at least, so
it would appear.

But is it established? That each message took an equal time to
travel each way is pure assumption, and happens to be a false one.
The accuracy of the result is vitiated by a condition of things to
which the Relativists have called attention. Our determination might
be defended if Washington and Greenwich could be assumed to remain
at rest during the experiments, and some argument might even be made
in its favor if we could secure any cosmic assurance that the
resultant motion of the earth should be the same when Greenwich
signalled its noon to Washington and Washington its noon to Greenwich.

Our present discussion is merely illustrative, or diagrammatic; so
we will neglect the velocity of the earth in its orbit round the sun,
some forty times greater than that of a cannon ball, and the more
uncertain and more vertiginous speed of the whole solar system
towards its unknown goal. Let us consider only the rotation of the
earth on its axis, the tide-speed of day and night. To fix our idea,
this may be taken, in our latitudes, at eighteen thousand miles per
day, or perhaps half the speed of a Mauser rifle bullet.

So fast, then, will Washington have been moving to meet the message
from Greenwich. So fast will Greenwich have been retreating from
Washington's message.

Now the ultimate effect of motion on the time-determination cannot
be calculated along any such simple lines as these. Indeed, it
cannot be exactly calculated at all, for we have not all the data.
But there is certainly _some_ effect. Suppose one rows four miles up
a river against a current of two miles per hour, at a rowing speed
of four miles per hour. This will take two hours, plainly. The
return trip with the river's gift of two miles per hour will
evidently require but forty minutes. _Two hours and forty minutes_
for the round trip, then, of eight miles.

Now then, to row eight miles in still water, according to our
supposition, would have required but _two hours_. But, some one
objects, the current must help the return trip as much as it
hindered the outgoing! Ah, here is the snare that catches
rough-and-ready common sense! How long would the double journey have
taken _if the river current had been faster than our rowing speed_?
How shall we schedule our trip if we cannot learn the correct speed,
_or if it varies from minute to minute_?

These explanations are necessarily symbolistic rather than
demonstrative, but any one who will seriously follow out these lines
of thought, or, still better, study the attitude of the hard-headed
modern physicist towards our classical geometry and mechanics,
cannot fail to realize how conventional, artificial--even
phantasmal--are the limitations set by the primitive idea of flat
space and straight time.

The inferences which we may draw from our hypothetical experiment
are plain. The settings of the two chronometers would be defective,
they would not show the same time, but each of them would mark the
_local_ time, proper to its own place. There would be no means of
detecting the amount of error, since the messages were transmitted
by a medium involved with them in their transportation. If only
local time can be established, the possibility of a warped
time-plane--the curvature of time--is directly opened up. Doubtless
it is true that on so relatively minute a scale as is offered by the
earth, any deviation from perfect flatness of the time-plane would
be so inconsiderable and imperceptible as to make it scientifically
negligible; but this by no means follows when we consider our
relation to other worlds and other systems.

A similar condition holds with regard to space-distortion. The
Theory of Relativity enforces the conclusion that from the
standpoint of our conventions in regard to these matters, all bodies
involved in transportation undergo a contraction in the direction of
that transportation, while their dimensions perpendicular to the
transportation remain invariable. This contraction is the same for
all bodies. For bodies of low velocity, like the earth, this
distortion would be almost immeasurably slight; but great or little,
no measuring instruments on the body transporting would ever
disclose it, for a measure would undergo the same contraction as the
thing measured.


These concepts that space and time are not as immutable as they
appear: that our universe may suffer distortion, that time may lag
or hasten without our being in the least aware, may be made
interestingly clear by an illustration first suggested by Helmholtz,
of which the following is in the nature of a paraphrase.

If you look at your own image in the shining surface of a teapot, or
the back of a silver spoon, all things therein appear grotesquely
distorted, and all distances strangely altered. But if you choose to
make the bizarre supposition that this spoon-world is real, and your
image--the spoon-man--a thinking and speaking being, certain
interesting facts could be developed by a discussion between
yourself and him.

You say, "Your world is a distorted transcript of the one in which I

"Prove it to me," says the spoon-man.

With a foot-rule you proceed to make measurements to show the
rectangularity of the room in which you are standing. Simultaneously
he makes measurements giving the same numerical results; for his
foot-rule shrinks and curves in the exact proportion to give the
true number of feet when he measures his shrunken and distorted rear
wall. No measurement you can apply will prove you in the right, nor
him in the wrong. Indeed he is likely to retort upon you that it is
your room which is distorted, for he can show that in spite of all
its nightmare aspects his world is governed by the same orderly
geometry that governs yours.

The above illustration deals purely with space relations, for such
relations are easily grasped; but certain distortions in time
relations are no less absolutely imperceptible and unprovable. So
far from having any advantage over the spoon-man, our plight is his.
The Principle of Relativity discovers us in the predicament of the
Mikado's "prisoner pent," condemned to play with crooked cues and
elliptical billiard balls, and of the opium victim, for whom
"space swells" and time moves sometimes swift and sometimes slow.


Now if our space is curved in higher space, since such curvature is
at present undetectable by us, we must assume, as Hinton chose to
assume, that it curves in the minute, or, as some astronomers assume,
that its curve is vast. These assumptions are not mutually exclusive:
they are quite in analogy with the general curvature of the earth's
surface which is in no wise interfered with by the lesser curvatures
represented by mountains and valleys. It is easiest to think of our
space as completely curved in higher space in analogy with the
surface of a sphere.

Similarly, if time is curved, the idea of the cyclic return of time
naturally (though not inevitably) follows, and the division of the
greater cycles into lesser loops; for it is easier to assign this
elliptical movement to time than any other, by reason of the orbital
movements of the planets and their satellites. What results from
conceptions of this order? Amazing things! If our space is curved in
higher space, you may be looking toward the back of your own head.
If time flows in cycles, in travelling toward to-morrow you may be
facing yesterday.

This "eternal return," so far from being a new idea, is so old that
it has been forgotten. Its reappearance in novel guise, along with
so many other recrudescences, itself beautifully illustrates time
curvature in consciousness. _Yugas_, time cycles, are an integral
and inexpugnable part of Oriental metaphysics. "Since the soul
perpetually runs," says Zoroaster, "in a certain space of time it
passes through all things, which circulation being accomplished, it
is compelled to run back again through all things, and unfold the
same web of generation in the world." Time curvature is implicit in
the Greek idea of the iron, bronze, silver, and golden ages,
succeeding each other in the same order: the winter, seed-time,
summer and harvest of the larger year. Astrology, seership, prophecy,
become plausible on the higher-time hypothesis. From this point of
view history becomes less puzzling and paradoxical. What were the
Middle Ages but a forgetting of Greek and Roman civilization, and
what was the Renaissance but a remembering of them--a striving to
re-create the ruined stage-settings and to re-enact the urbane play
of Pagan life. The spirit of the Crusades is now again animate
throughout Europe. Nations are uniting in a Holy War against the
Infidel _de nos jours_.

But it is in the individual consciousness that time curvature
receives its most striking confirmation--those lesser returns and
rhythms to which we give the name of periodicity. Before considering
these, however, a fundamental fallacy of the modern mind must be


Our vicious habit of seeking the explanation of everything--even
thought and emotion--in materiality, has betrayed us into the error
of attributing to organic and environic changes the very power by
which they are produced. We are wont to think of feeling, the form
in which Being manifests to consciousness, as an effect instead of
as a cause. When Sweet Sixteen becomes suddenly and mysteriously
interesting to the growing boy, it is not because sex has awakened
in his body, but because the dread time has come for him to
contemplate the Idea of Woman in his soul. If you are sleepy, it is
not because the blood has begun to flow away from your brain, but
because your body has begun to bore you. Night has brought back the
Idea of Freedom, and consciousness chloroforms the thing that
clutches it. If you are ill, you grow cold or your temperature rises:
it is the signal by which you know that your consciousness is
turning toward the Idea of Pain.

Just as a savage looks for a man behind a mirror, we foolishly seek
in materiality for that which is not there. The soul determines
circumstance: the soul contains the event which shall befall. The
organic and environic rearrangements incident to obscure rotations
in higher space are like the changes a mirror-image undergoes as an
object draws near and then recedes from its plane. This is only a
figure of speech, but it is susceptible of almost literal application.
Ideas, emerging from the subconscious, appproach, intersect, recede
from, and re-approach the stream of conscious experience; taking the
forms of aversions and desires, they register themselves in action,
and by reason of time curvature, everything that occurs, recurs.


We recognize and accept this cyclic return of time in such familiar
manifestations of it as Nature affords in _periodicity_. We recognize
it also in our mental and emotional life, when the periods can be
co-ordinated with known physical phenomena, as in the case of the
wanderlust which comes in the mild melancholy of autumn, the moods that
go with waning day, and winter night. It is only when these recurrences
do not submit themselves to our puny powers of analysis and measurement
that we are incredulous of a larger aspect of the law of time-return.
Sleep for example, is not less mysterious than death which, too,
may be but "a sleep and a forgetting." The reason that sleep fails to
terrify us as death does is because experience has taught that
_memory leafs the chasm_. Why should death bedreaded any more than
bedtime? Because we fear that we shall forget. But do we really forget?
As Pierre Janet so tersely puts it, "Whatever has gone into the mind
may come out of the mind," and in a subsequent chapter this aphorism
will be shown to have extension in a direction of which the author of
it appears not to have been aware. Memory links night to night and
winter to winter, but such things as "the night-time of the spirit"
and "the winter of our discontent" are not recognized as having either
cause or consequence. Now though the well-springs of these states of
consciousness remain obscure, there is nothing unreasonable in
believing that they are recrudescences of far-off, forgotten moods
and moments; neither is it absurd to suppose that they may be related
to the movements and positions of the planets, as night and winter
are related to the axial and orbital movements of the earth.

But there are other, and even more interesting, evidences of time
curvature in consciousness. These lead away into new regions which
it is our pleasure now to explore.



Our space is called three-dimensional because it takes three
numbers--measurement in three mutually perpendicular directions--to
determine and mark out any particular point from the totality of
points. Time, as the individual experiences it, is called
one-dimensional for an analogous reason: one number is all that is
required to determine and mark out any particular event of a series
from all the rest. Now in order to establish a position in a space of
four dimensions it would be necessary to measure in _four_ mutually
perpendicular directions. Time curvature opens up the possibility of
a corresponding higher development in time: one whereby time would
be more fittingly symbolized by a plane than by a linear figure.
Indeed, the familiar mystery of memory calls for such a conception.
Memory is a carrying forward of the past into the present, and the
fact that we can recall a past event without mentally rehearsing
all the intermediate happenings in inverse order, shows that in
the time aspect of memory there is simultaneity as well as
sequence--time ceases to be linear and becomes _plane_. More
remarkable illustrations of the sublimation of the time-sense are
to be found in the phenomena of sleep and dreams.

"Oh, thou that sleepest, what is sleep?" asks the curious Leonardo.
Modern psychological science has little to offer of a positive
nature in answer to this world-old question, but it has at least
effectively disposed of the absurd theories of the materialists who
would have us believe that sleep is a mere matter of blood
circulation or of intoxication by accumulation of waste products in
the system. Sleep states are not abnormal, but part and parcel of
the life existence of the individual. When a person is asleep he has
only become unresponsive to the mass of stimuli of the external
world which constitutes his environment. As Sidis says, "When our
interest in external existence fags and fades away, we go to sleep.
When our interests in the external world cease, we draw up the
bridges, so to say, interrupt all external communication as far as
possible, and become isolated in our own fortress and repair to our
own world of organic activity and inner dream life. Sleep is the
interruption of our intercourse with the external world: it is the
laying down of our arms in the struggle of life. Sleep is a truce
with the world."

The twin concepts of higher space and curved time sanction a view of
sleep even bolder. Sleep is more than a longing of the body to be
free of the flame which consumes it: the flame itself aspires to be
free--that is to say, consciousness, tiring of its tool, the brain,
and of the world, its workshop, takes a turn into the plaisance of
the fourth dimension, where time and space are less rigid to resist
the fulfillment of desire.


We find a confirmation of this view in dream phenomena. But however
good the evidence, we shall fail to make out a case unless dream
experiences are conceded to be as real as any other. The reluctance
we may have to make this concession comes first from the purely
subjective character of dreams, and secondly from their triviality
and irrationality--it is as though the muddy sediment of daytime
thought and feeling and that alone were there cast forth. In answer
to the first objection, advanced psychology affirms that the
subconscious mind, from which dreams arise, approaches more nearly
to the omniscience of true being than the rational mind of waking
experience. The triviality and irrationality of dreams are
sufficiently accounted for if the dream state is thought of as the
meeting place of two conditions of consciousness: the foam and
flotsam "of perilous seas in faery lands forlorn," whose vastitude,
whose hidden life, and rich argosies of experience, can only be
inferred from the fret of the tide on their nether shore--the tired
brain in sleep.

For it is the _remembered_ dream alone that is incoherent--the dream
that comes clothed in the rags and trappings of this work-a-day world,
and so leaves some recoverable record on the brain. We all feel that
the dreams we cannot remember are the most wonderful. Who has not
wakened with the sense of some incommunicable experience of terror or
felicity, too strange and poignant to submit itself to concrete
symbolization, and so is groped for by the memory in vain? We know
that dreams grow more ordered and significant as they recede from
the surface of consciousness to its depths. Deep sleep dreams are in
the true sense clairvoyant, though for the most part irrecoverable--
"Canst thou draw out Leviathan with an hook?" DuPrel and others have
shown that the difference between ordinary dreaming, somnambulance,
trance and ecstasy, is only a matter of redistribution of
thresholds--that they are all related states and merge into one
another. We have, therefore, every right to believe that for a
certain number of hours out of the twenty-four we are all sybils and
seers, however little most of us are able to profit by it.
Infrequently, in moments of peculiar susceptibility, the veil is
lifted, but the art of _dreaming true_ remains for the most part
unmastered--one of the precious gifts which the future holds in store
for the sons and daughters of men.

The partial waking state is the soil in which remembered dreams
develop most luxuriously. Paradoxical as it may sound, they are the
product, not of our sleep, but of our waking. Such dreams belong to
both worlds, partly to the three-dimensional and partly to the
four-dimensional. While dreams are often only a hodge-podge of
daytime experiences, their incredible rapidity, alien to that
experience, gives us our first faint practicable intimation of a
higher development of time.


The unthinkable velocity of time in dreams may be inferred from
the fact that between the moment of impact of an impression
at the sense-periphery and its reception at the center of
consciousness--moments so closely compacted that we think of them as
simultaneous--a coherent series of representations may take place,
involving what seem to be protracted periods for their unfoldment.
Every reader will easily call to mind dream experiences of this
character, in which the long-delayed denouement was suggested and
prepared for by some extraneous sense-impression, showing that the
entire dream drama unfolded within the time it took that impression
to travel from the skin to the brain.

Hasheesh dreams, because they so often occur during some momentary
lapse from normal consciousness and are therefore measurable by its
time scale, are particularly rich in the evidence of the looping of
time. Fitzhugh Ludlow narrates, in _The Hasheesh Eater_, the dreams
that visited him in the brief interval between two of twenty or more
awakenings, on his walk homeward after his first experience with the
drug. He says, "I existed by turns in different places and various
states of being. Now I swept my gondola through the moonlit lagoons
of Venice. Now Alp on Alp towered above my view, and the glory of
the coming sun flashed purple light upon the topmost icy pinnacle.
Now in the primeval silence of some unexplored tropical forest I
spread my feathery leaves, a giant fern, and swayed and nodded in
the spice-gales over a river whose waves at once sent up clouds of
music and perfume. My soul changes to a vegetable essence, thrilled
with a strange and unimagined ecstasy."

Earlier in the same evening, when he was forced to keep awake in
order not to betray his condition, the dream time-scale appears to
have imposed itself upon his waking consciousness with the following
curious effect. A lady asked him some question connected with a
previous conversation. He says, "As mechanically as an automaton I
began to reply. As I heard once more the alien and unreal tones of
my own voice, I became convinced that it was some one else who spoke,
and in another world. I sat and listened: still the voice kept
speaking. Now for the first time I experienced that vast change which
hasheesh makes in all measurements of time. The first word of the
reply occupied a period sufficient for the action of a drama; the
last left me in complete ignorance of any point far enough back in
the past to date the commencement of the sentence. Its enunciation
might have occupied years. I was not in the same life which had held
me when I heard it begun."

This well-known fact, that we cannot measure dreams by our time scale,
proves that subjective time does not correspond with objective, and
that the "dream organ" of consciousness has a time scale of its own.
If in our waking state we experience one kind of time, and in
dreams quite another, the solution of the mystery should be sought
in the _vehicle_ of consciousness, for clearly the limit of
impressionability or power of response of the vehicle establishes
the time scale, just as the size of the body with relation to
objects establishes the space scale. Time must be different for the
ant and the elephant, for example, as space is different.

Our sense of time is wholly dependent upon the rapidity with which
impressions succeed one another. Were we capable of receiving only
one impression an hour, like a bell struck every hour with a hammer,
the ordinary term of life would seem very short. On the other hand,
if our time sense were always as acute as it is in dreams, uncounted
aeons would seem to be lived through in the interval between
childhood and old age.

Imagine a music machine so cunningly constructed and adjusted as not
only to sound each note and chord in its proper sequence and relation,
but to regulate also the duration of the sound vibration. If this
machine were operated in such a manner as to play, in a single
second of time, the entire overture of an opera which would normally
occupy half an hour, we should hear only an unintelligible noise a
second long. This would be due to no defect in the _sound-producing_
mechanism, but to the limitations of the _sound-receiving_ mechanism,
our auditory apparatus. Could this be altered to conform to the
unusual conditions--could it capture and convey to consciousness
every note of the overture in a second of time--that second would
seem to last half an hour, provided that every other criterion for
the measurement of duration were denied for the time being.

Now dreams _seem_ long: we only discover afterwards and by accident
their almost incredible brevity. May we not--must we not--infer from
this that the body is an organ of many stops and more than one
keyboard, and that in sleep it gives forth this richer music. The
theory of a higher-dimensional existence during sleep accounts in
part for the great longing for sleep. "What is it that is much
desired by man, but which they know not while possessing?" again
asks Leonardo. "It is sleep," is his answer. This longing for sleep
is more than a physical longing, and the refreshment it brings is
less of the flesh than of the spirit. It is possible to withstand
the deprivation of food and water longer and better than the
deprivation of sleep. Its recuperative power is correspondingly

Experiments have been made with mature University students by which
they have been kept awake ninety-six hours. When the experiments
were finished, the young men were allowed to sleep themselves out,
until they felt they were thoroughly rested. All awoke from a long
sleep completely refreshed, but the one who took longest to restore
himself from his protracted vigil slept only one-third more time
than was regular with him. And this has been the experience over and
over again of men in active life who have been obliged to keep awake
for long periods by the absolute necessities of the situation in
which they have been placed.

In this fact there is surely another hint of the sublimation of the
time sense during sleep. While it would be an unwarrantable
assumption to suppose that the period of recuperation by sleep must
be as long, or nearly as long, as the period of deprivation, the
ratio between the two presents a discrepancy so great that it would
seem as though this might be due to an acceleration of the time
element of consciousness.


In this matter of the wonder, the mystery, the enchantment, of sleep
and dreams, the most modern psychology and the most ancient wisdom
meet on common ground. Eastern wisdom casts such a light upon the
problems of subjectivity that it should not be lightly dismissed.
For uncounted centuries Hindu-Aryan spiritual science has recognized,
not one plane or condition of consciousness, but three; waking,
dreaming, and deep sleep--the gross, the subtle and the pure. In the
waking state--that is, with the vehicle attuned to vibrate to
materiality--the individual self is as a captive in a citadel of
flesh, aware of only so much of the universal life as chances to
enact itself before the windows of his prison. In the dream state,
when the more violent vibrations of the body are stilled in sleep,
consciousness becomes active in its subtle (four-dimensional) vehicle,
and ranges free throughout the ampler spaces of this subtler world.
In deep sleep, consciousness reverts to its pure condition--the
individual self becomes the All-Self: the rainbow, no longer
prismatic by reason of its refraction in materiality, becomes the
pure white light; the melody of life resolves itself into the
primordial harmony; sequence becomes simultaneity, and Time, no
longer "besprent with seven-hued circumstance," is swallowed up in

"_There are two paths for him, within and without, and they both
turn back in a day and a night.... After having subdued by sleep all
that belongs to the body, he, not asleep himself, looks down upon
the sleeping. Having assumed light, he goes again to his place, the
golden person, the lonely bird_" UPANISHADS.


However preposterous may appear to us this notion that the waking
state, in which we feel ourselves most potent and alive, is really
one of inhibition--that the world is only a "shoal of time"--it is
curiously borne out by the baffling phenomena of dreams and is in
perfect accord with the Higher Space Hypothesis. The possibility of
shaking off the grip of sleep under appropriate circumstances, the
fact that we can watch in our sleep, and awake at the right moment,
that we can sleep and still watch and keep awake in regard to
special objects and particular persons--these things form
insuperable difficulties for all those plausible, and apparently
scientific, theories of sleep current in the West; but they fit
perfectly with the Eastern idea that "he, not asleep himself, looks
down upon the sleeping." And to the questions, "How, and from whence?"
in the light of our hypothesis we may answer, "By the curvature of
time, consciousness escapes into the fourth dimension."

Myers shows that he was in need of just this clue in order to
account for some of the dream experiences recorded in _Human
Personality_, since he asks for "an intermediate conception of
space--something between space as we know it in the material world
and space as we imagine it to disappear in the ideal world." He
suggests that in dreams and trance there may be a clearer and more
complete perception of space than is at present possible to us. A
corresponding sublimation of the time sense is no less necessary to
account for time in dreams. Although we seem to triumph over space
and time to such a tune as to eliminate them, dream experiences have
both form and sequence. Now because form presupposes space, and time
is implicit in sequence, there arises the necessity for that
"intermediate conception" of both space and time provided by our


Let us conceive of sleep less narrowly than we are accustomed to:
think of it only as one phase of the phenomenon of pause, of
arrested physical activity, universal throughout nature. The cell
itself experiences fatigue and goes to sleep--"perchance to dream,"
Modern experimental science in the domain of physiology and
psychology proves that we see and do not see, hear and do not hear,
feel and do not feel, in successive instants. We are asleep, in
other words, not merely hour by hour, but moment by moment--and
perhaps age by age as well.

Where is consciousness during these intervals, long or short, when
the senses fail to respond to the stimuli of the external world? It
is somewhere else, awake to some other environment. Though we may
not be able to verify this from our own experience, there are
methods whereby it can be verified. Clairvoyance is one of these,
hypnotism is another--that kind of hypnotism whereby an entranced
person is made to give a report of his excursions and adventures in
the mysterious House of Sleep. It is a well-known fact that these
experiences increase in intensity, coherence and in a certain sort
of omniscience, directly in proportion to the depth of the trance.
The revelations obtained in this way are sometimes amazing. The
inherent defect of this method of obtaining information is the
possibility of deception, and for that reason science still looks
askance at all evidence drawn from this source. But in essaying to
write a book about the fourth dimension from any aspect but the
mathematical, the author has put himself outside the pale of
orthodox science, so he is under no compulsion to ignore a field so
rich merely because it appears to be tainted by a certain amount of
fallibility and is even under suspicion of fraud. Diseased oysters,
though not edible, produce pearls, and a pearl of great price is the
object of this quest. Let us glance, therefore, at the findings of
hypnotism and kindred phenomena.



It is difficult to divest the words hypnotism and clairvoyance of
certain sordid and sinister associations. We are apt to think of
them only as urban flora of the dust and dark, cultivated for profit
by itinerant professors and untidy sibyls. Larger knowledge of the
night side of human nature, however, profoundly modifies this view.
The invoked image is then of some hushed and studious chamber where
a little group of people sit attentive to the voice of one
entranced--listeners at the keyhole of the door to another world.
This "news from nowhere," garnered under so-called test conditions
and faithfully recorded, has grown by now to a considerable
literature, accessible to all--one with which every well-informed
person is assumed to have at least a passing acquaintance.

A marked and constant characteristic of trance phenomena consists of
an apparent confusion between past, present and future. As in the
game of three-card monte, it appears impossible to tell in what order
the three will turn up--_was, is_ and _will be_, lose their special
significance. Clairvoyance, in its time aspect, whether spontaneous,
hypnotically induced, or self-induced, is susceptible of
classification as post-vision, present vision, and prevision.
Post-vision is that in which past events are not recollected merely,
but seen or experienced. It is the past become present. Present
vision is clairvoyance of things transpiring elsewhere; the present,
remote in space, but not in time. Prevision is the future in the
present. These various orders of _clear-seeing_ transcend the limits
of the actual knowledge and experience of the seer. This
classification and these definitions are important only to us, to
whom past, present, and future stand sharply differentiated in
thought and in experience; not to the clairvoyant, who, though bound
in body to our space and time, is consciously free in a world where
these discriminations vanish. Why do they vanish? This question can
best be answered by means of a homely analogy.

For a symbol of the flow of time in waking consciousness, imagine
yourself in a railway carriage which jogs along a main-travelled
line at a rate predetermined by the time-table. You approach, reach
and pass such stations as are intersected by that particular railway,
and you get a view of the landscape which every other traveler shares.
Having once left a station, you cannot go back to it, nor can you
arrive at places further along the line before the train itself
takes you there. Compare this with the freedom to do either of these
things, and any number of others, if you suddenly change from the
train to an automobile. Then, in effect, you have the freedom of a
new dimension. In the one case, you must travel along a single line
at a uniform rate; in the other, you are able to strike out in any
direction and regulate your speed at will. You can go back to a
place after the train has left it; you can go forward to some place
ahead, before the train arrives, or you can strike out into, and
traverse, new country. In short, your freedom, temporal and spatial,
will be related to that of the train-bound traveler, somewhat as is
trance consciousness to everyday waking life.


Modern psychology has demonstrated the existence of a great
undercurrent of mental and emotional life, transcending the
individual's conscious experience, in which the most complex
processes are carried on without the individual's conscious
participation. The clearest symbol by which this fact may be figured
to the imagination is the one already presented: the comparison of
the subjective field to a plane, in which the conscious experience
of the individual is represented by a single line. In sleep and

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