Fourth Dimensional Reaches of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition
San Francisco, 1915
Cora Lenore Williams, M. S.
Author of “As If” and Essays on “Involution”
Paul Elder and Company
Paul Elder and Company San
A Fourteenth Century Legend
General Status of the Fourth-Dimensional Theory
The Fourth-Dimensional Aspects of the Panama-Pacific International
Creative Evolution (After Bergson)
My Bibliography of Fourth-Dimensional Insight
To My Father and Mother
Time is, and all the detail of the
The plastic mind. With multitude of shapes and sounds
Do the swift elements of thought contend
To form a whole which life may comprehend.
Only to those of high intent
Is life revealed, and quick dreams sent—
Half glimpsed truths omnipotent.
Out of the silence of an unborn space
A spirit moves, and thought comes face to face
With the immutable, and time is past,
And the spent soul, done, meets truth at last.
Chance, fate, occasion, circumstance,
In interfused radiance
Are lost. Past, present, future, all combined
In one sure instantaneous grasp of mind, And all infinity unrolls at
our command, And beast and man and God unite, as worlds expand.
-Ormeida Curtis Harrison.
Friar Bacon, reading one day of the many conquests of England,
bethought himself how he might keep it hereafter from the like conquests
and so make himself famous to all posterity. This (after great study) he
found could be no way so well done as one; which was to make a head of
brass, and if he could make this head to speak (and hear it when it spoke)
then might he be able to wall all England about with brass. To this
purpose he got one Friar Bungey to assist him, who was a great scholar and
magician (but not to be compared to Friar Bacon); these two with great
study and pains so formed a head of brass that in the inward parts thereof
there was all things like as in a natural man's head. This being done they
were as far from perfection of the work as they were before, for they knew
not how to give those parts that they had made motion, without which it
was impossible that it should speak. Many books they read, but yet could
not find out any hope of what they sought, that at the last they concluded
to raise a spirit and to know of him that which they could not attain by
their own studies.
The spirit straight obeyed, and appeared unto them, asking what they
would. He told them that with a continual fume of the six hottest simples
it should have motion, and in one month space speak: the time of the
month: or the day he knew not. Also he told them that if they heard it not
before it had done speaking, all their labor should be lost.
Then went these two learned Friars home again and prepared the simples
ready and made the fume, and with continual watching attended when this
Brazen Head should speak. Thus watched they for three weeks without any
rest, so that they were so weary and sleepy that they could not any longer
refrain from rest. Then called Friar Bacon his man Miles, and told him
that it was not unknown to him what pains Friar Bungey and himself had
taken for three weeks space only to make and to hear the Brazen Head
speak, which if they did not, then had they lost all their labor, and all
England had a great loss thereby. Therefore he entreated Miles that he
would watch whilst that they slept and call them if the head spake. 'Fear
not (good master), I will harken and attend, upon the head and if it do
chance to speak, I will call you; therefore, I pray take you both your
rest and let me alone for watching this head.'
* * * *
At last, after some noise, the Head spake these two words: 'Time is.'
Miles, hearing it to speak no more, thought his master would be angry if
he waked him for that, and therefore he let them both sleep and began to
mock the Head in this manner: 'Thou Brazen-faced Head, hath my master took
all this pains about thee and now dost thou requite him with two words,
* * * *
After half an hour had past, the Head did speak again two words which
were these: 'Time was.' Miles respected these words as little as he did
the former and would not wake his master, but still scoffed at the Brazen
Head, that it had learned no better words, and have had such a tutor as
his master; * * * * '“Time was!” I knew that, Brazen-face, without your
telling. I knew Time was and I know what things there was when Time was,
and if you speak no wiser, no master shall be waked for me.'
* * * *
* * * * The Brazen Head spake again these words: 'Time is past'; and
therewith fell down and presently followed a terrible noise, with strange
flashes of fire, so that Miles was half dead with fear. At this noise the
two Friars waked and wondered to see the whole room so full of smoke, but
that being vanished, they might perceive the Brazen Head broken and lying
on the ground. At this sight they grieved, and called Miles to know how
this came. Miles, half dead with fear, said that it fell down of itself
and that with the noise and fire that followed he was almost frightened
out of his wits. Friar Bacon asked him if it did not speak.
'Yes,' quoth Miles, 'it spake, but to no purpose.'
The human mind has so long followed its early cow-paths through the
wilderness of sense that great hardihood is required even to suggest that
there may be other and better ways of traversing the empirical common. So
it is that the fear of being proclaimed a Brazenhead has restrained me
until this eleventh hour from telling of my discoveries concerning the
fourth-dimensional reaches of our Exposition. That I have the courage now
is due to my desire to help in its preservation; not to the end of
enclosing it in a brass wall, but to lift it out of the realm of things
temporal and give it permanent meaning for our thought and aspiration.
Would we save our Exposition from the ravages of Time we have to exorcise
that monster with the enigmatical utterances of the aforesaid Brazen Head.
The philosophers are telling us that Time is the fourth dimension in the
process of evolving for our consciousness. I take it that there are three
stages in this evolution; the first, that of immediate experience, is
subsumed by the phrase 'Time is'; the second is a passing from the
concrete to the abstract through the fact that 'Time was'; and the glory
of the last is visioned only when we can say 'Time is past.'
While many books have been written descriptive of the Exposition, none
has succeeded in accounting completely for the joy we have in yonder
miracle of beauty. And this through no fault of the writers. When all has
been said concerning plan and execution there is still a subtle something
not spatialized for consciousness. Length, breadth, and height do not
suffice to set forth the ways of our delight in it. What of this
perceptual residue? Obviously to give it extension we shall have to
ascribe to reality other dimensions than those of our present sense realm.
Some disciple of Bergson interrupts: 'Ah, this whereof you speak is a
spiritual thing and as such is given by the intuition. Why, then, do you
seek to spatialize it?' And the layman out of his mental repugnance to
things mathematical echoes, 'Why?' We have to answer that the process of
creative evolution makes imperative the transfixion by the intellect of
these so-called spiritual perceptions. Although the intuition transcends
the intelligence in its grasp of beauty and truth, we may attain to the
higher insight it has to offer only if the things of the spirit become
known to the intellect—a point in Bergson's philosophy which the majority
of his readers overlook. 'We have,' he says, 'to engender the categories
of our thought; it is not enough that we determine what these are.'
Bergson is preeminently the prophet of the higher space concept. We had
done better to have held to Kant, for now we are not only confronted with
the fourth dimension as a thought-form, but with the duty as well of
furthering its creation. And in that light we have to regard what of worth
and meaning the Exposition has for us.
Although the scientist has found it useful on occasion to postulate the
fourth dimension, he has not thought necessary as yet to put it in the
category of reality; much less has the layman. Consequently the
mathematician holds the sole title to its knowledge unless we recognize
the claims of the medium to a fourth-dimensional insight.
There is much, however, today which points to our coming to such
perception as the natural result of our evolution and quite apart from
geometrical abstractions or occultism. It is as though some great tidal
wave had swept over space and we have, quite unbeknown to ourselves, been
lifted by it to new heights. And when we have once obtained our spiritual
balance we shall doubtless find that our space world has taken to itself
another direction, inconceivable as that now seems.
Space is more than room wherein to move about; it is, first of all, the
room in which we think, and upon how we do so depends the number of its
dimensions. If the attention has become 'riveted to the object of its
practical interest' to the extent that this is the only good the creature
knows, then is its thought-form one-dimensional even though its bodily
movements are three-spaced. The great Peacock Moth wings a sure course
mateward to the mystification of the scientist; the dog finds the direct
road home—his master cannot tell how; Mary Antin climbs to an education
over difficulties apparently insurmountable; Rockefeller knows his goal
and attains it, regardless of other moral worths. For these the way is
certain. They can suffer no deflection since there are no relative values,
no possible choices. Their purpose makes the road one-dimensional. That
the majority of persons are still feeling their way over the surface of
things is attested by the general mental ineptitude for the study of solid
geometry. Depth and height play little part in our physical perception.
For most of us the third dimension is practically unknown beyond the reach
of a few feet. A Beachey soaring aloft—why all the bravado of curve and
loop? Sooner or later he will fall to his death. Ay, verily! but his is a
joyous martyrdom making for the evolution of consciousness. Not always
shall we crawl like flies the surface of our globe!
While a man's space-world is limited by his thought, it is, on the
other hand, as boundless as his thought. That the world evolves with our
consciousness, is at once the philosophy of 'Creative Evolution' and of
the higher space theory. Our present spatial milieu has settled down to a
seemingly three dimensional finality because our thought-form has become
so habitual as to give rise to certain geometric axioms. All we need in
order to come to a fourth-dimensional consciousness, said Henri Poincare,
'the greatest of moderns,' is a new table of distribution; that is, a
breaking up of old associations of ideas and the forming of new
relations—a simple matter were it not for our mental inertia. Lester Ward
speculates that life remained aquatic for the vast periods that
paleontology would indicate; Cambrian, Silurian, Devonian, Carboniferous—a
duration greater than all subsequent time —for the reason that the
creature had not progressed beyond the stage when it could move otherwise
than in a straight line when actuated by desire for food or mate. Life was
not able to maintain itself on land until it had overcome this
one-dimensional limitation. A venturesome Pterodactyl was he who first
essayed to make his way among the many obstructions to be found ashore! By
what intuition was he impelled?
It is a matter of common observation that the growth of the higher
perceptive faculty is strangely concomitant with adversity. The intuitive
person is a person who has suffered. When conditions press sufficiently
hard, a new table of distribution may be the only means for survival. Thus
we proceed to make a virtue of necessity and so come to the recognition of
other values which we denominate spiritual because we have not as yet
spatialized them. The caterpillar has to mount the twig to find the tender
green that is his food, but, he solaces himself for the journey by
thinking himself a creature of the light. Mr. Carpenter, in an interesting
study of what he calls Intermediate Types, shows that the seers and
spiritually-minded come to be such because they found themselves differing
in some wise from their fellows, and dwelling on that difference had their
minds turned inward. Progress in thought and imagination naturally
followed, with the result that these were lifted above the majority and
came thereby to larger vision. Failure may well be the measure of
extension in a new dimension.
The significance of the much fumbling and groping of earth's creatures
is the desire for a larger outlook. Man has to feel his way out of a
three-fold world even as the worm out of his hole. That we are hearing
much of the principle of relativity is perhaps the best indication we have
that the collective human consciousness is about to enter a higher
dimension. So long as man knew only an absolute good was his world a
definitely determined world. Now that the question of relative values
obtrudes itself on every side the range of consciousness promises to be
Man's interest having in these latter days become largely centered on
value-judgments and estimates of worth, an exposition affords perhaps the
most general application of the principle of relativity, bringing it home
to the collective mind in an intimately human way as nothing else
could:—With nation vying with nation and individual with individual in all
of the arts and crafts of human industry, absolute standards must needs
vanish, and with their going we may be able to set up such a distribution
of values as will give new direction to our efforts. However that may be,
the industrial competition to which, in the last analysis, the Exposition
owes its inception, is pushing many aside from the beaten highways into
hitherto unexplored regions of thought and endeavor, and who is to say
that we may not in consequence find a direction quite at right angles to
all of our wonted ways of thinking. Certainly there could be no more
fitting occasion for the launching of a new thought-form than a great
And I know not if, save in this,
such gift be allowed to man,
That out of three sounds he frame, not a fourth sound, but a star.
Consider it well: each tone of our scale in itself is naught:
It is everywhere in the world—loud, soft, and all is said:
Give it to me to use! I mix it with two in my thought:
And there! Ye have heard and seen: consider and bow the head!
The Panama-Pacific International Exposition is best seen in its
fourth-dimensional aspect when approached through the Gateway of Memory.
This is what one might expect, for that entrance alone has the requisite
geometrical structure. You will recall having heard, I am sure, how in the
fourth dimension a person may go in and out of a locked room at his
pleasure with bolts and bars untouched. Broad and open as is this Gate of
Memory, when you pass its portals the wall closes behind you; there is no
visible opening to mark the spot of your entry. A feeling of detachment
comes over you. This is augmented by the burst of light and color that
flashes across the field of your vision, and for the first time you
understand the purport of those 'banners yellow, glorious, golden' which
'do float and flow.' They seem to bear you on breezes of their own
creating to the freedom of outer spaces. What you had taken for the
flauntings of festivity are become the heralds of hyperspace.
As you wend your way down the Avenue of Time you feel an inexpressive
lightness, a sensation of being lifted out of yourself. The moment seems
unique. Things are unrelated. There is no concern of proportion. The place
is one of immediacy. You wander from the ephemeral to the ephemeral. 'Time
is,' you say, in childish glee. And you hasten to assemble images as many
and as disparate as possible, believing that you are drinking life at its
fountain head. The outer world presents itself to your consciousness in
the form of facts in juxtaposition. You read guide-books and rejoice in
the acquisition of knowledge. Gradually through the perception of the same
phantasmagoria comes an at-oneness with your fellows. You are caught up in
the swirl of a larger self.
Soon you weary of the heterogeneous. The Zone of Consciousness stands
revealed in all its grotesqueness. 'Time is,' you cry, but to give thought
its impulse, and you hasten on if perchance you may discover the direction
of the life-principle. What you had taken for reality is but its
cross-section—so does this empirical realm stand to the higher world of
your spirit, even as a plane to a solid.
Now you turn your attention from things to relations in the hope of
getting at truth in the large. A passage in Plato comes vividly to your
mind. 'For a man must have intelligence of universals, and be able to
proceed from the many particulars of sense to one conception of reason;
—this is the recollection of those things which our soul once saw while
following God, when, regardless of that which we now call being, she
raised her head up towards the true being.'
Henceforth the multiplicity that you seek is one of organization and
has nothing to do with number. 'Time was,' you proclaim, that
consciousness might sift out the irrelevant. As you pass from collection
to collection individual fact becomes prolonged into general law and
science dominates the field of thought. A thousand years are as a day when
subsumed by its laws. You look at the objects of man's creating with new
eyes. The displays are no longer contests of laborious industry but of
vision, and faith. You see that truth has made itself manifest through the
long repetition of the same fundamental theme. That which is unique and
personal you are surprised to find of less value than the habit perfected
by patient practice. The routine and monotony of daily toil become
glorified in the light that now falls athwart your vision. You learn to
substitute for your personal feeling the common impersonal element felt by
the many. Your concern is not as formerly to recollect, but to symbolize.
To this end you study frieze and statuary and frequent lectures. Your
sense of social solidarity grows through mutual comprehension of the same
And again that 'vexing, forward reaching sense of some more noble
permanence' urges you on. 'Time was;' you joyously affirm for man to come
to the knowledge of an eternal self. But that, your tradition and
education have led you to believe, is still yonder, worlds away. And you
image the soul in its quest passing from life to life as you are now
passing from building to building, from hall to hall. But glad the
thought—there will be courts wherein you may perhaps glimpse the plan of
the whole and so gather strength and purpose for another housing. All at
once you know that death has no fear for you and you feel toward your
present life as you do toward these Palaces of the Mundane—the sooner
compassed the better.
You pass from court to edifice and from edifice to court, marveling at
the symmetry of plan and structure. Unity, balance, and harmony become
manifest as spatial properties—you had been taught to regard them as
principles of art. You wonder if art itself may not be merely a matter of
right placing—the adjustment of a thing to its environment. You are
certain that this is so as each coign and niche offers you its particular
insight. Strange vagaries float through your mind—one's duty to the
inanimate things of one's possession; the house too large for the
personality of the owner; the right setting for certain idiosyncrasies;
character building as a constructive process; the ideal as the limit of an
infinite series—each pointing the way, as you think, to a different vista
of human outlook. What then your glad surprise to find these converging
toward one ideal synthesis. In anticipation of the splendor you hasten on
till earth shall have attained to heaven. There it stands—'a structure
brave,' the Palace of Art, the Temple of the Soul—and you know you were
made to be perfect too.
Now that you apprehend the plan of the whole, symmetry takes on a vital
significance for your thought. You try to recall what you learned of it in
geometry. There was a folding over, you remember, and a fitting together
'congruence' you believe it was called. But that could have no meaning for
solids. Stop! a folding over? Why, that implies another dimension! The two
halves of a leaf can be brought together only as one or the other is
lifted out of the plane of the leaf into a third dimension. So to bring
two buildings into superposition when they are alike except for a reverse
order of parts, would necessitate a fourth dimension and a turning inside
out. Quick as the thought, the court you are in is that—a building inside
Ah! you know now wherefor that wonderful uplifting sensation that comes
whenever you enter one of these beautiful inclosures. You have passed into
the fourth dimension of spatial realization. 'Time is past,' you shout
aloud, and laugh to find yourself on the inside of externality. Cubism in
architecture! Futurism, in very truth!
You visit again the galleries of the New Art, not to scoff, but in
earnest desire for enlightenment as to this thing which is so near to
consciousness and yet so far. You find yourself exclaiming:
'Ah, there is something here Unfathomed by the cynic's sneer!'
As you gaze at the portrayal so strangely weird in form and color you
ask yourself where have I felt that, seen this, before? Immediately you
are transported in memory to the midst of a crowded street. In the mad
bustle and noise you are conscious only of mechanical power; of
speed—always of speed. Your voice far away—'The child, oh, the child!' A
swooning sensation. Men's faces as triangles and horses with countless
legs. The chaos of primal forces about youthen darkness.
As the past fuses with the present you awaken to a larger privilege of
life than man now knows. You feel yourself encompassed by truth, vital and
strong. This art, erstwhile so baffling, stands revealed as the struggle
of a superhuman entity for self-expression. The tendency toward God has to
begin anew with each round of the life-spiral—that eternal circle which
Now you find yourself in the Court of the Universe. Bands of
many-colored light, the white radiance of eternity, stream athwart the
sky. The illumination is of the wonder that now is. How marvelously
strange the sight of the world-consciousness passing over into a higher
thought-form! Each individual element suffering reversal to take its
proper place in the new world-order! You see positive becoming negative,
negative becoming positive, and Evolution giving place to Involution—a
process as yet uncomprehended by our narrow thought. And the secret of the
world-struggle across the sea you know; men passing their nature's bound;
new hopes and loyalties supplanting old ties and joys; the established
creeds of right and wrong as they vanish in this immeasurable thirst for
an unknown good. All these things you know to be the travail of the world
as it gives birth to some higher entity than individual man.
'Time is past,' and as you speak a dove settles to rest upon a
pediment. Therewith you are carried away in the spirit to a great and high
mountain and you behold a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven
and the first earth are passed away. You see the holy city coming down out
of heaven—her light is like unto a stone most precious, as it were a
jasper stone, clear as crystal, and the walls thereof are adorned with all
manner of precious stones—and they brought the glory and the honor of the
nations into it.
Out of a sense of immediacy
Comes an intuition of things forming.
Pressed up by the vital urge,
Mind meets matter and matter mind
In mutual understanding.
That which apprehends, since by the object shaped,
A fitting instrument is for what itself has wrought.
From the same stuff,
Cut by an identical process,
Thing and intellect to congruence come,
In a space-world forever unfolding.
preestablished harmony this
Of inner to outer realm corresponding,
Nor spirit nor form by the other determined.
Stranger far the genesis whereof I speak:
From the universal flux,
In a moment, that is ever unique,
Life to new consciousness springs;
Creator and created together evolve,
In a time-stream continually changing.
While to books I owe much, I owe still more to the beautiful people by
whom I have been, like Marcus Aurelius, all my life surrounded, and
particularly to my parents of large vision.
Creative Evolution: Bergson.
An intuition so great that if spatialized it would lead to a world of
The Ethical Implications of
Bergson's Philosophy: Una Bernard Sait.
The New Infinite and the Old
Theology: C. J. Keyser.
The Fourth Dimension: C. H.
First and Last Things: H. G.
The Art of Creation: Edward
Some Neglected Factors of
A scientific presentation of Involution, a book than which none other
has more light to throw on present world problems.
Primer of Higher Space: Claude Bragdon.
Projective Ornament: Claude Bragdon.
ABT Vogler: Browning.
Commemoration Ode: Lowell.
The Book of Revelations.
Here ends “The Fourth Dimensional Reaches of the Panama-Pacific
International Exposition,” written by Cora Lenore Williams, M.S., with
lines on Fourth-Dimensional Insight by Ormeida Curtis Harrison; and the
illustrations are from etchings done by Gertrude Partington, and the
Fourth Dimensional cover design by Julia Manchester Mackie. Published by
Paul Elder &Company, and printed under the typographical direction of H.
A. Funke at their Tomoye Press, in San Francisco, during the month of
November, Nineteen Hundred and Fifteen.