Starting my morning walk I put my hand into a little-used jacket pocket and found tucked inside a small bill folded brochure titled Towards an Intuitive Understanding of the Fourth Dimension (continued) — I have no memory of putting it there. I liked the idea that the brochure was a continuation, a progression of something that I had no recollection of, and had somehow came to it in midstream, as it were. A quick search on the Internet produced a litany of hits, pages and pages on this narrative of physics. Here’s a good one: fourth dimension. In such matters as the fourth dimension, the brochure says in one section, is approached two ways abstractly or intuitively. And to ponder the fourth intuitively is to do so as a child counting heartbeats, and by extension counting heartbeats over seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, and so on… “After a hundred years, in a second, one man dies and another is born.”
During my walk I thought about Thoreau spending two years and two months writing pages of economy in the woods, alone, a mile from a neighbor, in a place he built over time, and how I read Walden for my doctoral thesis, but can only now remember little but lists of supplies and a call for solace.
At my desk following my walk I pulled from an old file — I am amazed at the amassed material I have stuffed into boxes and file cabinets — a piece written by Graham Swift on the slowness of novel-writing. The laws of narrative physics. Author and text becoming some kind of spooky action at a distance. A personal pact, all novelists must make, to work on the life within a life at the pace required knowing fully the slowness of writing, but the speed of reading.
What begins as a speck in space, extrudes in any direction, and extrudes again perpendicular to the first impulse to create an acre of words, and give this ground some depth — width, length and height. Three dimensional. And then inward, an extrusion of a life into tetraspace, the fourth — a tesseract.
Or, as Mrs. Who and Charles Wallace explain to Meg in Madeleine L ‘Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time — “a straight line is not the shortest distance between two points.”
Readers, writers travel by this wrinkling of time.