Let me preface this story with a couple of caveats: I don’t understand one syllable of the dimensional explanations. That may be because I can’t rotate objects in space and always failed miserably at those tests where you had to mentally fold little geometic figures. Or it may be because the explanations are complete nonsense, which only seemed profound because the bizarre always seems to makes sense during dreams. What interests me more are the extra-dimensional visitors, their ship, which is rather conventional in appearance, if not in size, the mysterious heat associated with the visitors, and Dr. Sinclair’s terror at–what?
The Phantom Ship
by Carl Ramus, M.D.
The study of the fourth dimension of space greatly interested my friend. Dr. A. N. Sinclair, some years ago. He plunged into the subject with scientific enthusiasm, devised a new set of cubes, thought out several original methods for bringing the fourth dimension more within the understanding of our three-dimensional consciousness, and wrote a thesis. For some weeks the fourth dimension occupied much of his time, and he often retired to sleep with its speculations the last thoughts in his waking consciousness.
One morning he came to me with the rather abrupt information that he was finished with the subject “for good and all.” The night before, he had dreamed that he was working hard at the problem, when three men came to him and said that they could show him a demonstration of the fourth dimension; they did so, and for the first time Dr. Sinclair saw and understood its mysteries. It was a wonderful expansion of consciousness for him while it lasted.
While he was observing the phenomenon with all the rapt attention of a scientist, he became aware of a subtle and sinister change in himself, and a feeling of unearthly horror began to creep over him. He is an athlete and a brave man, to whom terror is an unusual experience. But in his dream he was in the grip of a terrible fear, the nature of which he could not tell, a fear which quickly became over mastering. He awoke with a shock, and could not shake off the condition of fright and dread for some time.
Dr. Sinclair felt that this uncanny experience was the direct result of his absorbing studies of the fourth dimension; for a moment they somehow lifted the veil which normally separates the visible from the invisible world. He had read an article by Mr. [C.W.] Leadbeater on the fourth dimension, in which it was stated that a student had developed the astral “sight” through its investigation, which had brought about the necessary expansion of consciousness.
From the very disagreeable effects that Dr. Sinclair had experienced he decided that it would be unwise to continue that study for the time being. On June 11, 1916, he visited me in New York. As we talked over old times I asked him if he remembered his fourth-dimensional dream experience. He said he did; and that since that day, about seven years previously, he had neither done any more work in that line nor had any more such experiences. We discussed psychoanalysis and sheaths of consciousness, and the fourth dimension in reference to them.
On that same night Dr. Sinclair dreamed the following vivid dream, and had the strange psychological experience which is here related. On waking he arose immediately and wrote down all he could remember. He does not claim to have remembered the exact wording of the conversation, but the sense of it is correct.
I might say here that Dr. Sinclair has had several prophetic dreams of shipwrecks. One of them he related to me two months before the wreck occurred. He gave the name of the steamship and truly described coast and reef. As the dream which will now be narrated is in the nature of a prophecy concerning the near future of the great war in Europe, the fact that I can vouch for one of his earlier prophetic dreams is rather significant. I give Dr. Sinclair’s last psychic experience in his own words:
I was standing on the veranda of the Leahi Home at Honolulu when I became conscious of a sensation of heat which increased rapidly until almost unbearable. The sea a few miles away became gradually shrouded from view by a mist which grew denser until it was completely hidden. The heat began gradually to lessen, the mist to rise and drift away, until the sea was again clearly visible. Then a ship at least two thousand feet long, with four large funnels, was seen to be approaching the harbor. She anchored, and an aeroplane rose from her deck, taking a course in my direction. It began to approach the earth, and evidently intended to land on the grounds of the Leahi Home. Some others and I went down to meet it as it landed and discharged four passengers, two men and two women, who to all appearances were identical with the rest of the human race. One of the women was asked by me who the visitors were, and from where they came. She replied:
“We have come from another planet (plane?) by way of four-dimensional space. We wanted to prove this to you, so we came in a ship that is twice as long as any that has ever been built on earth. We landed here in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, as it was the farthest removed from strife, and so most likely to show our peaceable intentions.”
“What strife do you mean?”
“That detestable war which is a canker even to us in the fourth dimension. The canker of hate has eaten away the boundary that has existed between you and us for centuries. The war will end shortly through our intervention.”
“How will you end it?”
“Easily. Do you not remember the heat that heralded our coming? You were only in the outer zone of a central point of heat where our rays of projection focussed. Suppose we were to focus those rays on some great magazine or center of explosives of one of the warring nations. It would explode, and we could explode one after another, or several together, if they were close enough.”
“Do you intend to do that?”
“Wait and see. As soon as the opportunity arrives we shall bring the war to an end in that way. You will hear of a great explosion in the stores of one of the battling nations, of another, and maybe another, until they have so little ammunition left that they cannot carry on the war. Then the war will cease. We await only an opportunity to do this with as little loss of life as possible; but we shall not wait long in any case.”
“How do you make that heat?”
“It is made by a process of projection from the fourth dimension. You burn a hole in a sheet of paper by bringing three-dimensional light to a focus on a two-dimensional plane. Imagine the almost infinitely greater heat that can be caused by our bringing four-dimensional heat to a focus on a three-dimensional plane. Indeed, that is all that the sun is, a focus of four-dimensional rays of heat and light projected from the fourth-dimensional and higher planes still.”
“By higher planes do you mean the astral plane?”
“Yes, and others. The soul, the ego, or the individual spirit, is a four-dimensional object or figure. What you know as the individual is only one face of the tessaract [sic, throughout]. The soul has many other faces. When a person is said to function in the astral region, it means simply that another cubical plane of the spirit is turned into coincidence with that of your world. As each face of the cube is a plane, limited to a different region in three-dimensional space, so each face or form of the spirit-tessaract is a cube limited to a three-dimensional region—a region having different properties and attributes from the others. Those functioning in the astral region learn which way to turn; that is, in which direction to face the three-dimensional earth-plane in order to attain what they want. You can easily see that as each face of the tessaract looks into a different region, a turn in the wrong direction may cause the earth-face to enter into a fear-inspiring region, when the earth-face will get an impression of fear or horror. A turn into a peaceful region may give confidence, and so on, there being a face for futurity, or simply a region where a comprehensive view of all the factors of the present can be obtained, from which an accurate deduction as to future events may be made. Naturally such a deduction may be sometimes erroneous, not taking into account some factor to be developed entirely in the future.”
“But that does not explain clearly the passage of the spirit-face for long distances, where the astral body—so called—has travelled miles, when the bodies of those dead have appeared to the living.”
“The actual face of the spirit has not appeared in such cases, only the shadow of the spirit. A shadow, as you know it, is the only true two-dimensional figure that moves and has a seeming existence. It is formed by the effect of a three-dimensional object in conjunction with light. But there is a peculiar property of the shadow in two-dimensional space, which perhaps you have not thought of. Suppose there are two shadows on a two-dimensional plane; by all the laws of physics those two shadows should never be able to pass one another. Or, say the shadow of a man is surrounded by the shadow of a ring; by the laws of two-dimensional space the man-shadow should never be able to pass the boundaries of the ring-shadow. But when these two shadows are projected on the plane from three-dimensional space, they may be made to melt into one another and cross each other; in fact they show the passage of matter through matter. Thus in the instance noted on the earth-plane, of passage of matter through matter, it has not been by the true material substance in the earth-plane, but by three-dimensional shadows projected from the fourth dimension. If you had two rings separated in a two-dimensional plane, they could not be made the one to cut the other; but if their shadows are projected from the third dimension they can be made to cut each other. So two truly three-dimensional rings cannot, in three dimensions, be linked together; but their shadows, projected from four-dimensional space, can be made to link one into the other; and, as those shadows have three dimensions also, to a three-dimensional being they are seemingly material, and apparently pass one into the other. It is in this manner that the semblance of a person appears at great distances.
But it is only the three-dimensional shadow that is projected upon the face of three-dimensional space, and naturally, being but a shadow, it may pass through three-dimensional matter. Were it the actual three-dimensional face of the spirit-tessaract, which we know as the earth-body, and therefore a three-dimensional material thing, it could not pass through three-dimensional matter in three-dimensional space, which it does.”
“But such shadows have been known to speak. How can a shadow speak?”
“That you cannot understand, perhaps; but they do not actually speak. Their lips move, but that is all. It is really thought transference; but the person spoken to imagines the figure is speaking. A certain idea is registered in his brain through vibration, which he accepts as a spoken idea. You can get a clue to it only by analogy. Life, as I have explained, can make manifestations from a third dimension to a two-dimensional plane. But you can not conceive of sound transference in two dimensions—or rather a manifestation of it. Sound transference must have three dimensions, for it is caused by three-dimensional bodies only. In an analogous way thought transference must have four dimensions; and that is as clear as I can make it. All of us who have come to visit you are merely projections. You cannot injure us any more than you can injure a man’s shadow.”
“But I am interested in the other matter just now: One face of the spirit-tessaract being the earth-face, there must be twenty-three others. Are they all the same?”
“Very nearly; although, as I said, the different faces look into different regions where certain attributes dominate not only the functioning face of the spirit-tessaract, but its appearance. You know of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: what happened was a turning to the earth-plane of that face which was dominated by cruelty and horror—that being the plane or region upon which it usually functioned.
There are cases in which persons are seized with religious fervor or high ideals—another face has been turned to you. Dual personalities are thus explained since these different three-dimensional faces know little or nothing of what happens to the other ones. A maniac has turned into the earth-plane the spirit-face functioning on the region of chaos. Mediums who have gone into a trance have simply turned another face to the earth-plane—the face that functions on that region from which an idea of futurity may be gained. You will find that when they have been watched they have seemed to fade away and then to come back again. The fading away was simply the turning of the spirit-tessaract in the fourth dimension; naturally in doing this the three-dimensional face must leave the three-dimensional plane to a great extent, just as the plane of a cube must almost wholly leave a plane surface when it turns in three-dimensional space.”
“Can people ever leave the earth-plane completely while the body is alive?”
“No, not without the gravest risk that they will never be able to return to it. It is much safer to go from one place to another by simply turning round one edge of the tessaract, keeping a surface always in contact with the earth-plane.”
“You said you were but a projection. How is that done?”
“By a fourth-dimensional reflector. Indeed, it was the converging of the heat rays of the fourth dimension to a focus at the point at which we wished to enter, that caused such heat in your earth-plane. It was necessary to find this focus to make us appear of ordinary size to you, which we preferred.”
“How is it you have not come to earth before?”
“Your earth-plane forms but the face of a huge tessaract in space. That face has for nineteen hundred years been sacred. None of us cared to investigate it, believing it controlled by universal love, peace, and good-will to men. We always felt it to be a region not to be trespassed upon; but, as I said, a great wave of destructive hatred has eaten its way through the boundaries—a destructive wave which threatens to destroy the whole of the earth-face. We, who live on another face, cannot allow this to continue without interference. Such hate waves annoy us, just as something distasteful would annoy you, only a thousandfold more. Therefore we are going to stop the war.”
What shall we say of Dr. Sinclair’s vision? Surely we are justified in believing that so unusual an experience presages the possibility that his dream, in some form or other, may come true. “But dreams full oft are found of real events The forms and shadows.”
[It is interesting to note that this article was received in the latter part of June, and that, since then, there have been many serious explosions of munition depots in America, England, France, Germany, and Russia.—Ed.]
The Channel, October, November, December 1916: pp. 25-31
Here we have a proto-type of the helpful Space Brothers (and Sisters), anxious to preserve the peace and harmony of earth, albeit for their own selfish reasons. There also seems to be more than a hint of Spiritualist Q&A dressed up in luminous scientific cheesecloth.
Dr. A. N. Sinclair had an eminently respectable CV: he was a bacteriologist, pathologist, and Superintendent of Hawaii’s Leahi Home for Incurables, as well as Superintendent of the Tuberculosis Bureau of the Territorial Board of Health. He wrote papers on fevers and malaria in Hawaii, believing he had discovered a new agent of fever diseases. He was frequently mentioned in the Hawaiian papers and, to judge by their coverage, nothing more sensational than starting a new chess club or installing an x-ray machine at his clinic was ever reported of him.
Dr. Sinclair’s friend, and the author of this piece, Dr. Carl Ramus, had been the medical officer in charge of the U.S. Immigration Station, Boston and a former military surgeon. He had also served as the Chief Quarantine Officer in the Hawaiian Islands; probably that is how he met Dr. Sinclair. After this article was published, Dr. Ramus served as Chief Medical Officer for the American Red Cross in Italy from 1917 to 1919. Both men would, in the course of their jobs, have run across some of the worst diseases and conditions known to man. What, one wonders, was the abstract attraction of the Fourth Dimension when this world was crying out for healing? Why did the visitors focus on blowing up ammunition when cures for malaria, leprosy, cancer, and tuberculosis were needed? The U.S. didn’t enter the War until the following April; the predictions of the visitors for a quick end to the War seem wishful thinking on the part of the American doctor.
As an aside, one of the serious explosions the editor would have known was the firing of the Black Tom Island munitions depot 30 July 1916 by German saboteurs, perhaps the visitors in disguise.
Other than the fact that munitions explosions did not bring about the end of the War, is there anything in the visitors’ explanations of the Fourth Dimension? Or did it all arise from the fevered brain of Dr. Sinclair who drew back in terror at the secrets of Forbidden Knowledge he had uncovered? The heat from the “rays of projection” the visitors intended to use to stop the War suggests the inferno of atomic bombs that ended the Second World War, or the secret thermal weapons we hear rumors of today. But, of course, it was all just a dream…
Thoughts? No equations, please. chriswoodyard8 AT gmail.com
Chris Woodyard is the author of The Victorian Book of the Dead, The Ghost Wore Black, The Headless Horror, The Face in the Window, and the 7-volume Haunted Ohio series. She is also the chronicler of the adventures of that amiable murderess Mrs Daffodil in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales. The books are available in paperback and for Kindle. Indexes and fact sheets for all of these books may be found by searching hauntedohiobooks.com. Join her on FB at Haunted Ohio by Chris Woodyard or The Victorian Book of the Dead.
Floodmouse writes with a possibly useful analogy. Thanks!:
I just read your post from June. This actually makes sense to me.
In school, when explaining the difference between two dimensions and three dimensions, they told us about a book that I think was called “Flatland.” You’ve probably heard this, but imagine a two-dimensional sheet of paper lying on a table. That sheet of paper is a world called “Flatland,” and it is inhabited by little “Flatlanders” who can only move around within the sheet of paper–they can go back and forth, left or right, but NOT up or down, because there is no such thing in Flatland as a third dimension of height. The Flatlanders are entirely FLAT and cannot stick their heads up off the paper to see what is going on in our third dimension of height. In fact, most of them cannot even imagine there could be such a thing as a third dimension, so they disbelieve in our world entirely. We in the three-dimensional world can easily look down and observe Flatland, but they cannot see us and don’t know we’re there.
Now imagine that our three-dimensional world (length x width x height) is called Cubeworld, and we are the Cubeworlders. There is a fourth dimension out there, but it does not exist in Cubeworld, so most of us can’t even imagine it. I read in a book somewhere (maybe Madeleine l’Engle, “Swiftly Tilting Planet”?) that the best way to imagine the fourth dimension is to imagine a direction that is kitty-corner to everything. So the fourth dimensioners are out there in the fourth dimension, looking down on us Cubelanders, but we can’t see them and we don’t know we’re there, and most of us don’t believe there could be such a thing as the fourth dimension, because we can’t see it.
If you’re familiar with multi-sided dice (like, if in the bad old days, you played “Dungeons and Dragons”), you can use the image of 20-sided dice to help you imagine more dimensions. If you have never seen 20-sided dice, you can probably find pictures online, or the real thing in a comic book store or hobby store at the mall. Take a look at a 20-sided die (“die” is the singular of “dice,” go figure). Now imagine that on each side of the die, a flat sheet of paper is stuck there with glue. All these pieces of paper would intersect, connecting all the little two-dimensional worlds, but the people living on one sheet of paper would not be able to see any of the other sheets of paper, even though their dimension is actually sliced through with these junctions where the different sheets of invisible paper actually pass through each other. NOW try to imagine a bunch of three-dimensional cubes, and each cube forms the face of a fourth-dimensional 20-sided die. (I know, I can’t visualize it either. I understand there are people who can actually visualize this, but I’m not one of them; I can just generalize intellectually from Flatland to Cubeland, and then from Cubeland to “4-D” land (whatever that would look like.) So each of these 3-D cubes forms a face of the 20-sided, four-dimensional die, and each of these cubes actually intersects with some of the other cubes–but we, the Cubelanders, cannot see the other cubes (because they are kitty-corner to all three of our dimensions); therefore, the Cubelanders don’t believe the other dimensions are there, because we can’t see them, even though they actually intersect with our cube in the fourth dimension.
When Dr. Sinclair says the soul exists in many dimensions, imagine the soul is like one of these 20-sided dice, and each “face” is turned to a different cube. These cubes are different worlds or different realities (different dimensions), where the soul has a local residence or personality. The different faces of the soul are not normally aware of each other, except during a spiritual experience, which is actually the local face of the soul becoming temporarily aware of the one of the other cubes that intersect with our own world.
When Dr. Sinclair says the medium “fades out” because the soul has turned to a different world, it is like the 20-sided soul dice are spinning around, so the side of the die that says “1” fades out of our world, Cubeland, and reappears in one of these other cubes. That causes another face of the die (like “2,” or “5,” or “20”) to temporarily appear in OUR cube. That is what he means when he says that a person can appear mad if they come from a dimension of chaos, or afraid if they come from a dimension where something horrible is happening.
When Dr. Sinclair says that ghosts are a “shadow” cast from the fourth dimension, he means that fourth-dimensional shadows are only three-dimensional, just as three-dimensional shadows appear only as two-dimensional shapes. Here in Cubeland, our shadows are flat, so to a Flatlander, our shadow would appear to be a whole person. In the fourth dimension, they cast shadows that appear as three-dimensional shapes, so to us Cubelanders, the shadow APPEARS to be a whole person; but it is not actually solid, and that is why it can pass through stone walls or even another person as if it were not really there.
I actually like this formulation, because it is a simple and elegant scientific explanation for a lot of things that don’t make sense otherwise. However, I don’t see how you could test it with the equipment and knowledge we currently have here in Cubeland.
Anyway, if those fourth-dimensional people thought they could actually stop a world war by blowing up a few ammo dumps, I think they were seriously naïve.