Strange Victorian Journeys Into the Fourth Dimension

Strange Victorian Journeys Into the Fourth Dimension

Men of broader intellect know that there is no sharp distinction betwixt the real and the unreal… — H.P. Lovecraft, The Tomb (1917)

During the Belle Époque, or the Beautiful Age, men and women of science and rationality sought comfort from new spheres of influence in technology, art and spirituality. Suddenly no ideas were out of bounds and everything was up for grabs.  Trains ferried people and cargo underground. The miraculous discovery of germs that defied death meant that people were radically rethinking the origins of everything. The world was getting smaller every day and the discoveries were getting bigger every week.

The last gasp of Victorian spirituality infused cutting-edge science with old-school mysticism. Theosophy was all the rage; Many weird and and wonderful ideas being developed at the turn of the century around death, ghosts, the fourth dimension filled the Victorians with a palpable sense of possibility.

From Charles H Hinton's The Fourth Dimension

In  1904 one such radical rethink of mathematics was published, C. H. Hinton’s The Fourth Dimension, In it he argued that we should acknowledge an additional spatial dimension. A new form of geometry that links us all together in a mystical way in a sort of higher dimension linked to non-Euclidean mathematics.

Hinton’s solution was a series of coloured cubes that, when mentally assembled in sequence, could be used to visualise a hypercube in the fourth dimension of hyperspace. He provides illustrations and gives instructions on how to make these cubes and uses the word “tesseract” to describe the four-dimensional object.

Hinton goes on to say that once a person visualises these tesseracts in the cubes then they have unlocked their full potential – the potential of the fourth dimension.

He saw the fourth dimension as both physically and psychically real, and that it could explain such phenomena as ghosts, ESP, and synchronicities.

Strange Victorian Journeys Into the Fourth Dimension

The mystical implications of this were clear. That the soul was a “four-dimensional organism, which expresses its higher physical being in the symmetry of the body, and gives the aims and motives of human existence”.

People went bonkers for this idea at the time. Correspondence to Hinton from his many acolytes indicate that these people achieved profound success with connecting to the fourth dimension, Yet they found the experience profoundly disturbing or dangerously addictive. It was rumoured that some particularly ardent believers in the power of the cubes went mad.

I have taken an adapted text here from the always wonderful Public Domain Review

Published by Content Catnip

Content Catnip is a quirky internet wunderkammer written by an Intergalactic Space Māori named Content Catnip. Join me as I meander through the quirky and curious aspects of history, indigenous spirituality, the natural world, animals, art, storytelling, books, philosophy, travel, Māori culture and loads more.

4 thoughts on “Strange Victorian Journeys Into the Fourth Dimension

  1. I didn’t know that the idea of Tesseract was discovered in the Victorian times. I do know a bit about tesseract from Carl Sagan s video and how it is associated with spiritual dimension. I do think it’s true. It’s like the flat-earthers can only conceive of two dimensional reality comprising of length and breadth but not height. So the three dimensional beings when it comes into contact with these two dimensional beings these flat ones will literally feel like they’re ghost cause they can’t comprehend height at all. I bet it’s similar with us that, since we can’t wrap our mind around the concept of Fourth dimension, any intervention from them may seem scary.


    1. That’s an amazing idea, mind-bending for sure that there is a fourth dimension containing these other beings or tesseracts in the ether. I haven’t heard of the Carl Sagan reference to tesseracts I will have to see if I can find it, or if you have a link to the video, shoot it over


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