As certain as Last Thursdayism...
|I think the term “beside one’s self,” is just an elegant way to say someone is out of their mind. In a literal sense, they seem to represent the same idea.
We pretty much have our run of three dimensions and how we move through them. Whether you’re dancing around the room, flying to the moon or taking a breath, you’re moving through space and you can do this whenever you like. True that in the greater scheme of things, we move slowly and have a governor of sorts that reigns obdurate over our share of causality…
We get to move through the fourth dimension too, but in only one direction. Technically we can alter the speed at which we progress through time but the difference is imperceptible and comes at tremendous cost. Still, we move in that dimension. Only we have to experience it one slice, one instance at a time. We get to see our destination in the first, second and third dimensions but can only hope, fear or guess at it in the fourth.
String theory postulates that there are higher dimensions. The numbers ten and eleven get tossed around a lot but there are schools of thought that predict twenty six dimensions of spacetime. It’s important to take a moment to reflect on the difference between what is fringe and what is theoretical. These folks aren’t just quacks and you can thank people like them for iPhones and GPS. But twenty six dimensions… that’s Bosonic string theory.
Superstring theory predicts a number of dimensions that we have just enough fingers to count. How neat and convenient. I don’t have the intellect to completely understand these concepts let alone criticize them but neither the human infatuation with the number ten nor the likely explanation for that romance is lost on me. But moving on… ten dimensions.
After the fourth, the following dimensions expand in a hierarchy of possibility, probability and potential. While the more familiar terrain of space-time is made up of height and width, depth and duration, higher levels are given over to causes, consequence, and alternate endings to an array of variable beginnings. Ever wonder where you would be now if you had quit your job and moved to Conroe, Texas three years ago? You’d have to have a look in the 5th dimension to find out. Check the sixth dimension if you’re curious as to whether or not you would be the same person if you had been conceived two hours earlier or eight seconds later. And if you want to compare the ending of our universe to the end of a universe that originated from an existential spasm rather than our Big Bang, well get off on the eighth floor and find out. Multiverse much?
So what am I getting at? Well ladies and gentlemen it is here in my seventh paragraph that I’d like to begin making a point. See, I can find out about unemployed Conroe resident James Heyward any time I like. I can tell you more about who I would be if I was conceived eight seconds later than I could ever hope to tell you about myself; the number of hair follicles on his head, the exact date (down to the nano second) the first one turned grey, if he’ll ever publish a novel and how many times he’ll watch a sunrise. The spasmodic universe? That ends when it collapses under the weight of its own gravity. It was a bit anemic the Dark Matter department. I can tell you all of these things with absolute certainty. I cannot be wrong. If there are an infinite number of universes, how could I be?
Still, I’m limited. As I said, the absolute accuracy of my knowledge does not extend to my now. I can’t show you these realities by will alone and I have no more control over our existence than anyone else. My abilities do not extend to my now; they just originated here. Just as we are carried through the fourth dimension in a procession of instances, merely grazing but never experiencing it in its totality, are we similarly driven through those higher dimensions? Is our imagination the vehicle?
This sentiment is not an expensive one. Which is to say it would go nicely on a Hallmark greeting card, or on a motivational poster in a sixth grade art class. YOUR IMAGINATION IS A DOORWAY TO ANOTHER UNIVERSE. It’s easy to picture this sandwiched among all those inspirational quotes that ornament your grandmother’s wall on Facebook.
But it has a certain appeal…
Ideas are abstract concepts. Abstract concepts are abstract concepts. And while they don’t always possess the substance of physical structures, they undeniably occupy existence. In fact, according to the Cogito Ergo Sum argument, they are the only things that can be truly guaranteed as real. After all, even if reality in its entirety was nothing but an illusion, you could still be certain that you are experiencing it, and reflecting on the experience. You think, therefore you are.
So here is imagination. Shapeless; its boundaries unknown and immeasurable. Perfectly real. Capable of touching worlds or conditions of being so implausible they are accessible by no other route save imagination.
Take the most oddly shaped object in your home, hold it in front of a lamp and look at the shadow it casts on your wall. You have just reduced a three dimensional object to two dimensions. When we dread a world where the third Reich emerged victorious is the fifth dimension casting a fragment of its shadow into our conscious mind? Are ideas the quasi-physical representation of higher dimensional objects?
If all this is true, and you’re a fiction writer, you endeavor to spend as much time as you can dreaming in the shade of a profusion of realities and parallel dimensions. And there you are, out of your mind. Or to put it politely, beside yourself.