“Tesser, Sir, Tesser!”

That’s a handy ability to have in case you get locked out of your house/car. This bit of sage advice comes to us from the late Madeline L’Engles A Wrinkle in Time. If I recall correctly (not having a copy of the book on hand), Mr. Murray, Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin were in the grip of “IT” on Camezotz, and “Tesser, Sir, Tesser!” was Calvin’s anguished cry to Mr. Murray. After which they ended up on another planet in the Camezotz system, with Meg in tough shape for having tessered through the darkness, but in the able hands of her impromptu furry nursemaid, Aunt Beast.

A Wrinkle in TimeTesseractThis is a four-dimensional construct, a tesseract, or “hypercube.” More accurately, it’s the shadow of a tesseract, because we can’t directly perceive the fourth dimension, being three dimensional beings. The impossible (from our 3-d view) rotation you see here is a simulation of a tesseract. As the “inner” nested cube perpetually becomes the outer cube – that is the fourth dimension. It is the transitional space-time of getting from one state to the next. The “nesting” of one cube within another is an illusion devised to illustrate the four dimensional nature of a hypercube; there is only one cube, here, moving through spacetime.

If you could directly perceive the fourth dimension, all things would take on a “smeared out” quality. Not only would you see a person walking down the street, but you would see that person at every point along the “line” he follows through space and time.

This has important implications. Supposing you could move out of the third dimension, into the fourth at will, and back into the third, you could intersect the path of this individual at any point: when he was far down the street, when he was in front of your house, when he was far across town.

His perception would be that you popped out of nowhere.

So, once again, if you get locked out of your car or house, just slip into the fourth dimension, and “walk” to the spot in spacetime where your car or house wasn’t locked. It’s not far.

One more thing. All of this is grossly oversimplified, as there would be a lot more going on in the fourth dimension than just a guy walking down the street Everything is moving through spacetime, including the the earth, the sun, the galaxy. Our hypothetical person out for his morning constitutional is only moving in a smooth, straight line from our limited perspective.

As a 3-d being, I can’t even imagine, let alone describe, how jumbled and confusing the fourth dimension must be.



4 Responses to ““Tesser, Sir, Tesser!””

  1. 1 Jess
    March 9, 2009 at 6:09 pm


  2. 2 Rod (also)
    July 25, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    the way to visualize this is to omit one of our 3 spatial dimensions and substitute the time dimension in its place – ie imagine a two-D guy waliking, and stack up successive 2-D snapshots. There is no smearing, that comes from an attempt to mix dimensions and re-use a spatial dimension for time. If he’s moving in a straight line at constant speed then he’ll have a straight diagonal path. Take earth movement into account and it’ll be a spiral (helix).

  3. 3 Kaitie
    July 20, 2012 at 1:33 am

    I’m still a “young child” (wo’t specify my age for safety purposes) and my father understands less of this than I do. I read “A Wrinkle In Time” (just finished it ealier in the afternoon) and I take every last bit of tesser/tesseract talk very seriously. I try to take on mental challenges (seeing auras, lucid dreaming, etc.) so taking on physical challenges such as tessering is very difficult for me. I’ve always had problems with physical activity. I’m the weakest in my class, I hate sports, (too many rules and too much unnecessary competition) and I’m too fat to do much. I believe I possibly have the power of persuasion but it could also just be a series of coincidences. Does anybody know a site where I could find help trying to balance my mental and physical abilities?

    • 4 Rod
      December 10, 2012 at 6:57 pm

      Well Kaitie, martial arts and dance both help us balance our mental and physical abilities. And so does learning to play a musical instrument.

      Martial arts sounds competitive but really most of it is the struggle to get control of one’s own body.

      You won’t be able to tesser. That’s just imaginary, fictional, not real.


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