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I was a multidimensional being existing on multiple planes of consciousness at once. –Chris, trip report, Vaults of Erowid


Animation of a 4-D Polytope as a series of 3-D forms.


“All of us sooner or later in our lives, have had the bitter experience that it is extremely difficult, perhaps impossible, to squeeze oneself into the fourth dimension. However, every point of our three-dimensional space is an open door to the entry into the fourth dimension, but no matter how much we stretch and twist, we remain stuck in the all-too-well-known three dimensions.”
–Heinz von Foerster (2003)

Manifestation of the Archetype, from "Manifestations of Translinguistic Inevitability" by Beau Deeley

Heinz von Foerster’s 1970-1971 experiment at the Biological Computing Laboratory for apprehending the fourth dimension is unique, and years ahead of its time in pushing the edge of computer graphics, combining fourdimensional geometry, stereoscopic vision, and joystick manipulation of objects on the screen. The experiment concerned knowledge acquisition as a partnership between “Sensorium and Motorium,” i.e. embodied knowledge, and not an attempt to penetrate the fourth dimension for its own sake. The fourth dimension was chosen as the knowledge to be acquired because there was no chance that any subjects would have attempted such knowledge before the experiment. By allowing the physical “grasping” of the visual object, where one hand coordinated movement on three axes in the 3rd dimension, while the other similarly controlled three axes of movement in the 4th dimension, subjects were able to intuitively figure out that the strange succession of transforming 3D objects they were seeing (with 3D glasses) were cross-sections of a single 4D object. (von Foerster 2003)

The dimensions of dimension, and especially the search for the ability to visualize the 4th dimension, were topics of keen interest in a short period from the late 1800’s into the early 1900’s when scientists, theosophists, avante garde artists, mathematicians and spiritualists of all stripes cross-fertilized a radical new set of ideas about the 4th dimension.
Psychedelics have broken through this seeming limitation of visualization of dimensions; a multidimensional viewpoint beyond our customary three is almost a commonplace. Fractal visuals, and a perception of the fractal construction of the universe are frequent psychedelic experiences. The idea of language and consciousness progressing by dimensional leaps, is a central idea in Terence Mckenna’s world of novel notions, and is explored in relation to Glide’s evolution from two to three dimensions.



4 Responses to “Dimensionality”

  1. Brilliant!! +_+

  2. Hello; great article, and I feel better versed, or able to understand, the concept of 4-dimensional space (4 dimensions?), yet I struggle to release my “thinking” mind from the spaces around me, which are 3-d, in order to comprehend what “moving about” in the 4th-dimension, so to speak, would be like. Can you shed any light on how a layman might “wrap his mind” around dimensionality?–specifically, what it means to “understand the 4th dimension.” (Is this similar, all of this, to quantum physics/mechanics?–at all?) Thank you. -Benny

    • Benny
    • Reply
  3. It might be useful to distinguish clearly between the mathematical/scientific meaning of “dimension” as “a discrete direction of measurement” and the science-fiction/new-age usage as “a separate space-time continuum”. Thus, in the mathematical/scientific usage, we are said to experience three spacial dimensions (left-right, up-down and front-back) and one temporal dimension (past-future) whereas, in the science-fiction/new-age usage, we are in “a dimension” and there may be other entities living in “other dimensions”. Clearly the same term is being used for two, distinctly different, meanings .

    • I think were in that same language thing–the denotative, stricter scientific mode of x-planation, and the groping for language to describe a subjective experience which is linked to the descriptions of dimensions we learn in school–then structure our perceptions by these descriptions. Enter the altered state–and perceptions change. We’ll continue the discussion no doubt on the 4th of July.


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