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The Fourth-Dimensional Aspects of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition

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!

- Browning.

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 truths.

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 out!

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 life pursues.

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.

A Building Inside Out - The Court of Ages - From an etching by Gertrude Partington

A Building Inside Out
The Court of Ages
From an etching by Gertrude Partington

Creative Evolution
(After Bergson)

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.

No 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.

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