I’ve spent a little time writing about how the brain maps the world, and objects, based on information sent in by the eyeballs. And I’ve wondered why we seem to be limited to mapping in three dimensions, when we know full well that the universe consists of at least five dimensions. I think it has something to do with the nature of what it is we are mapping.
Reality is what we are mapping. If your world consists of food and predators, the brain does a good job of mapping reality. Most brains do. If your world consists of problems that require tools, only human brains do a very good job, and even then, some do a better job than others.
But there are some features of reality that are subtle and difficult to map. Life itself is a challenge. Is that animal sleeping, or is it slap out of chips?
We know the retina has a limited bandwidth. We can only see a small part of the electromagnetic spectrum. We know ultraviolet light exists, and we know infra-red exists, but we can only see light.
But it’s worse than that. Even if we could see the the entire spectrum of energy, we would still be missing 40% of reality, because (it is said) we have no capability of mapping more than three
dimensions, and have no way of seeing space the way it really is. Objects can exist in higher dimensions as well. But if they do, we would have no way of knowing it. We could have a 5- or 6-dimensional being standing right in front of us, and we would swear they were of three dimensions only. We would see that they are manifesting in a really bizarre way, but we would have no idea why.
How many dimensions are you? If you were a 6-dimensional being, would you even know?
You might, if you stop handicapping yourself. You might say, “I’ll believe it when I see it”; or, “I only believe in things I can see and touch.” If that’s your attitude, you’ll never figure it out. Use your brain.
You are capable of doing mathematics. Modeling worlds and objects in multiple dimensions is not all that difficult, mathematically.
Hate math? That’s cool, because you are also capable of telling stories. You might think your story is a one-dimensional, linear stream of data. But suppose your story is so good, I were to tell you, “Wow. I feel like I’m there.” That sounds three-dimensional to me.
What if I were to tell you, “Your story is timeless.” Time is the fourth dimension, isn’t it?
What if I were to tell you, “I know you were just telling me about your fishing trip, but somehow I feel like you’re the only person who ever really understood how I felt when I came back from the war. And it’s not just how I tried to wrap my head around returning to normal life. It was about losing something, it was about the feeling that part of me had died. Something I liked actually; so much so, that sometimes I have a hard time putting my finger on what inside of me (if anything) is still alive; and what is life anyway, and what is the point?
Let’s see… four, five. Six. I count seven dimensions in that story. If sex is in there somewhere, and knowing Hemingway it probably is, that’s eight. Unless sex and death are connected, and they might be. We all have the sneaking suspicion that things like that loop around. In the sense that an astronomer might have to hit up Dr. Lisa Randall to see what’s going on with subatomic particles. In the sense that Jesus and Gautama Buddha are the two most opposite guys in the world, theologically speaking, yet it seems sometimes like they are talking about the exact same thing.
Speaking of which, remember when you were a kid, and you read scripture? Ever wonder why scripture is written as narrative? Think you might lose something if you converted the whole thing to Powerpoints?
You have the capability of conceptualizing objects and spaces in as many dimensions as you need to. Meaning, in as many dimensions as you are. Just gotta use your brain. All of it.