Originally posted on May 23, 2014 at 8:40 PM
Yesterday I was thinking about Madeleine L’Engle’s incredible children’s novel “A Wrinkle in Time” and how it has passed into the realm of moral and social commentary since I read it in November 1963, and as we original readers grew toward Seniority. The book has many things to offer and is still worth rereading but the engrossing nugget of the story, this Tessering Thing, this leaping through space without benefit of spaceship or matter transmitter; this concept that resolved me to take physics in college, long after I ceased believing in my ability to Tesser, seems to have been largely neglected.
In reading reviews of Wrinkle online and descriptions of the Tessering process, it seems that nobody (at least nobody I’ve found) has thought much about how tessering really works on a practical level. I don’t mean exactly how it can be made practical for you and me, but how do we think the three W. Ladies and Dr. Murray made it work.
Tesser of course comes from the term Tesseract which in geometry means an hypercube, which can be represented by placing eight cubes at the corners of a larger, imaginary cube. It’s what a cube is supposed to look like in four dimensions. Don’t worry about that so much though, how do we use the concept of four dimensions, (or as Ms. L’engle described it, five dimensions) to travel from one planet to another? When we first read the book, my friend and I mined the text, reading the book over and over for clues. What was that blue liquid Mrs. (Dr.) Murray was processing in her home lab the afternoon Meg Brought Calvin home for dinner? What was the significance of Mr. (Dr.) Murray grabbing Meg’s wrist as he Tessered them off that frightening planet of Camazotz? (A planet in fact, which reminds one more and more of contemporary America.) Why did Dr. Murray (father) tell Calvin while Megt was trying to unthaw on Aunt Beast’s Planet that the scientific team that developed Tessering on earth wondered if the process might simply cause one to disintegrate? I know I spent hour upon hour trying to get my head around being able to transport off a planet, possibly through structures, to some other place entirely.
Whether ESP was having a renaissance at around the time I read Wrinkle or I just happened to stumble upon the concept at the time, I somehow got hold of the idea that tessering had something to do with the mind. Nobody seemed to have any little pocket devices or any essoteric elements about them when it happened. I thought perhaps there was more than one way to make it happen but perhaps if two minds could connect in a particular way, perhaps this mind-melding might also somehow warp time and space and cause a physical body (like mine) to shift to some distant place and since nobody knew how large these effects might turn out to be, perhaps one could leap between star systems through Tessering. Of course this gave no hint how a person might aim for a given destination unless one could visualize the destination as one tessered. Also why could Dr. (Mr.) Murray tesser all by himself, though he missed Mars and wound up on the C. Planet?
Only twice have I found references to tessering that suggested the mind might be involved. In the Wrinkle in Time movie the Tesseract appears to be some sort of universal phenomenon/structure? Into which people can somehow tap, sort of like an interstelar tramline I guess. Well that’s fine too though the original question remains how does one tap in? With the mind? With some sort of conditioning? With some sort of technology we don’t get to see? I think I’d have been happier with Wrinkle as a book had Ms. L’engle given us a hint. (It has to do with some mental techniques a psychophysicist taught us, Guys). This concept, via a drug worked well enough in The House on the Strand by Daphne Dumaurier, for time travel. Perhaps though, is she had directed us toward PSI or extrasensory phenomena, I might not have developed a fascination with physics.
About a year after I read wrinkle I was told by a Responsible Adult, a woman in her mid-20s, that if four people sat around a metal card table, with one on the north, one on the south, two on the west, leaving the east open; and if everyone places her/his fingertips on the table and thought the same thing at the same time, the table would raise off the floor. Does this really work? I can talk about mechanical forces, the enrgy needed to lift a table compared to the amount of energy produced by four brains and it seems like a marginal possibility, but has anyone tried it? Perhaps I shouldn’t have stopped believing in a personal ability to tesser. Who knows?