In One Dimensional Man (1964), Herbert Marcuse bewails the ‘lost dimensions’ – dimensions of existence that, in the crass technological dash for conformity, have faded in human life . Lost dimensions exist in areas of the spirit that seem to have no place in the one-dimensional world where opposition to prevailing ways of seeing things is shunted into oblivion.

If they are ‘lost’, how do we know that there were dimensions that did once exist? To answer the question briefly, Marcuse refers to still proud artists who engage in what he calls ‘the Great Refusal’ to fall in line with ‘technological reality [which] undermines not only the traditional forms but the very basis of artistic alienation – it tends to invalidate the very substance of art…’ which is revolutionary. Genuine poets, artists, composers & thinkers, still operate in dimensions that the rest of us have lost sight of & feeling for.

How might we recover the lost dimensions for ourselves unless we opt for revolution?

Examples of operating in one dimension abound. The easiest all-embracing example is in ‘politics’ where the single dimension is promoted by the Global Capitalist Conspiracy imposing the bleak lie of Austerity on humanity forced to suffer continually at the hands of the plutocrats. When opposition to the lie, in the shape of mass demonstrations or pronouncements of bold single leaders and thinkers, is accidentally reported in the media, intelligent debate is replaced by idiot soundbites or deliberately swamped by the ‘News of the Day’ – a sex scandal, mass shooting or, smear campaigns, as in the summer of 2018 when the patent lie of anti-Semitism in relation to Jeremy Corbyn was repeated over and over again. An attempt at intellectual analysis in another dimension is relegated to half an inch at the bottom of the sports page. Anybody opposing the general Conspiracy is represented as a paid-up member of Rentacrowd, the Communist Party or defined as a nutcase (Chomsky ‘the great American crackpot…’). Most people just fall into line, their fun-filled single dimension comfortably preserved.

The Power Possessors are well aware that they only have to chuck a slogan or soundbite into the public media to obtain the acquiescence of the public mass; a majority who choose not to think for themselves for one moment will accept any old garbage from a group whom they consider to be a cut above them in intelligence just because they have posh voices or a role that sets them apart in some way, money, power, influence…

As though to take up the challenge of Marcuse, Ron Atkin, obscure maths professor, wrote a book called Multidimensional Man (1981); it will never have hit the headlines for any or all of the above reasons! When you’re comfortable living in one dimension you’re not a bit aware that there might be others – you might even consider that the possibility of there being other dimensions to be a threat to your equilibrium – so Miroslav Holub’s poetic advice to ‘go and open the door’ to other dimensions of being will fall on deaf ears. We don’t even know how to find the blessed door!

Go and open the door.
Maybe outside there’s
a tree, or a wood,
a garden,
or a magic city.

Go and open the door.
Maybe a dog’s rummaging.
Maybe you’ll see a face,
or an eye,
or the picture
of a picture.

Go and open the door.
If there’s a fog
it will clear.

Go and open the door.
Even if there’s only
the darkness ticking,
even if there’s only
the hollow wind,
even if
is there,
go and open the door.

At least
there’ll be
a draught.

I have no idea whether Ron Atkin took off from Marcuse but in his book he develops the notion that there is in fact a multiplicity of dimensions to life which the unidimensionality of words in linear sequence can’t encompass or even buries or renders incomprehensible because of the imprecision of words. Acknowledging the present impossibility of getting beyond words to describe other possibilities, imagining that words are all we have to express ourselves with, we persist with the words we have at our disposal, at least for the moment.

Ron Atkin’s argument begins by stating that we have been programmed from schooldays to believe that we live in a 3D world – to believe that the world we live in consists entirely of line, plane & volume and perhaps Time, a fourth dimension which is more or less impossible to grasp because it’s part of the air we breathe; as Gurdjieff says – ‘Time is breath’. Against this, clocks & watches give ‘time’ a generally false objectification; clocks with hands are a more or less acceptable depiction because at least they represent space-time as opposed to digital, unidimensional linearity, mere number-crunching. What we call ‘time’ stretches somehow back & forth, upwards & downwards – the air we breathe, the pace of breathing… Words are inadequate.

Time, the idle construct, is a real problem. In order to further their rapacious desire for heaps of gold bars, the Global Conspirators rely on the fact that people cannot, over time, keep up with the wool that’s pulled over their eyes – the where and the when of all the lies. Those who make it their business to continue to recognise the passage of time can easily observe bare-faced lies when they see them.

The Power Possessors are happy that we have been brainwashed into believing that we live in a 3D world – line, plane & an empty volume which they can fill with whatever lies and distortions suit their current design. It suits them very well that awareness of the passage of what we call ‘time’ is dulled by all the intentional pressures of daily life; it is very convenient for them to promote the idea that things have never been any different from how they are now: the past is a dead duck. We must never entertain the revolutionary idea that things could be different from what they are now: all the outstandingly thoughtful people like Jesus who present an alternative view of the world are dead ducks. Nobody in a position of power will ever support the idea of having us ask the question WHAT IS LIFE FOR?

In any case, there is a post-modern idea, with its starting point in physics, that we have reached the end of time. Ernst Mach (1883):-

It is utterly beyond our power to measure the changes of things by time… time is an abstraction at which we arrive by means of the changes of things; made because we are not restricted to any one definite measure, all being interconnected.

Observing the way things persist in changing results in the invention of the very concept of ‘time’; what we call ‘time’ is simply the emergent property of many observations of changeability.

On the one hand, clocks & watches, diaries & calendars, dates & the sheeplike assumption of temporal obligations give ‘time’ a false objectification. There are so many ramifications: clocks with moving hands are a more accurate depiction of changeability than flickering figures because they at least try to represent space-time, as I’ve said, compared with digital abominations which show ‘time’ disappearing into nowhere land.

On the other hand, the disappearance of time, even as measured by the clockface, ought not to provide the Power Possessors with opportunities to get away with consigning all that has been to the wasteland. We ought not to allow it: we should be seriously considering the philosophers and all the lost dimensions. What action we might take exists in other dimensions which all attention should be directed at..

There are many more dimensions to existence; words can neither capture nor explain without tying one in conceptual knots. The endless paradox is that what can’t be put into words is difficult to grasp but when we do manage to find what appear to be ‘the right words’ they limit what we’re trying to say. Scrabbling a few words together paradoxically limits alternative conceptualisations.

Just as we are not aware of the dimensions of time passing unless we count the seconds or see the second hand ticking on, so we are in normal circumstances completely dead to hosts of multi-dimensional possibilities. What would it be like if we were alive to them?

Having been 3D programmed, our minds are closed off to other possibilities. We don’t even know where Miroslav Holub’s door might be, let alone open it. We do not know the right questions; those we do ask can only be formulated by reference to our past – beliefs, opinions, thought structures, imaginings, what we call ideas, whatever we’ve constructed from everything that’s happened to us, everything that we fondly imagine we’ve made sense of – the whole structure of ‘being’. Like all our rememberings, the questions we ask in the so-called NOW are reconstructions made out of all those things – beliefs, opinions, thought structures, imaginings, etc. The only questions we can ask are determined by ‘the past’. Maybe even what we choose to call the ‘future’ is actually the past in disguise.

How can we get out of that to ask the questions that will make us alert to Multidimensionality? What difference will it make anyway?

Look at it from the opposite point of view:-

What is the structure of experience? How can it be expressed?


Without normally being aware of it, we do in fact swim in n dimensions: they serve to construct the very consciousness we lay claim to in its minor sense (‘knowing’ that your fingers slip over the keys of the typewriter, observing the screen between you and the outside world, the coldness in the feet, the ticking clock and so on); we swim in dimensions in roughly the same way but not so obviously as we are bombarded by incoming stimuli. Dimensions way beyond point, line, plane & volume suggest the way the world could be constructed were we to set our minds to the task.

For example, one dimension might be called ‘linear thinking’ as opposed to ‘divergent thinking’; another, ‘thinking big’, block thought, as opposed to focusing on minutiae; there’s being ‘in-time’ and being ‘through-time’ (taking your time with you as opposed to habitually consulting the calendar). Dimensions are dispositions of being; there are endless possibilities: chords/counterpoint, fast/slow, rhythmic/static. There are all the ways language works: poetic/prosaic, simple collections of words/phrases given added meaning by colons & semi-colons… Inside/outside, alert/asleep, self/others – and all dimensions in between.

When we are alert, rather than in the normal state of waking sleep (what we like to think of as ‘consciousness’) we can already find, as Ron Atkins points out, ‘…strong hints of [other dimensions of being] in our everyday language and in everyday experience of people, things and events…’ Shifting sensibilities, angle-deviations, change of pace. stepping into other people’s shoes, wearing another hat, changing roles, adopting a different point of view…

The more alert one is the more dimensions come into view. Is there a more systematic way of depicting the whole range of different dimensions?

The present moment is a split second nothingness. The act of shouting STOP at oneself can make us aware of just that – the present moment, just about captured in a state of what Gurdjieff calls self-remembering, which may be redefined as self-reconstruction, self-gathering-together, something like that, is a split second nothingness which it is possible to revel in. An awareness of the multiplicity of Dimensions comes in a split second nothingness; for the concept to be practically useful, we must contrive to capture them on the wing, as it were.

The very possibility of even being aware of Dimensions (or perspectives!) in a split second is determined by our beliefs, opinions, thought structures, imaginings etc. Stuck in one dimension or place where a particular perspective has become comfortable to the perspecting person, it’s difficult if not impossible to shift elsewhere. Maybe I’m stuck in being obsessed by the notion of Dimensions – being comfortable in one dimension is actually all we need in order to survive in a basic sort of way.

Ron Atkin who started this trail in me a couple of years ago was a mathematician; he brings high class maths to bear on his concept of Multidimensionality. Maths is not something that figures highly in the determination of my nothingness-present. But I can just about understand his mathematical starting point which is – ‘let n stand for a place to start from’ which he says is a matter of ‘arbitrary choice’. I think that the choice of context may be arbitrary but not the starting point which is where multi-dimensional thinking begins! There are so many possible contexts. One might arrive at a kind of essence starting point – an essential ‘zero coordinate’ from which all other things, chunking up and down, emerge.

Example of my own concocting:-

n + 7 all nations
n + 6 nation
n + 5 society
n + 4 community
n + 3 doings: farmers, factory workers, teachers etc
n + 2 livings: town/country, house, caravan, houseboat, on the street etc
n + 1 groupings: ethnic, male/female, rich/poor, single/family etc

         n   Fred Smith, John Perkins, Mary Arbuthnot, Jane Pillinger etc – Identity

n – 1 variations of age & ability – limitations & opportunities
n – 2 individual anatomy
n – 3 bits of being, arm/leg etc
n – 4 smaller bits of being, finger nails, hair & so on
n – 5 muscles, skin & bone etc
n – 6 internal milieu
n – 7 somatic markers (“I am a teacher – it’s in my bones”, eg, linking to n + 3)
n – 8 neurons, atomic structure, etc

Letter n to start with could not be ‘finger nail’ (or could it? of course it could! one could choose to start anywhere in a dimensional analysis) But perhaps it would make more sense, fiddling with the idea of dimensions to attempt to arrive at something more fundamental – a zero coordinate. Starting at the centre of things one can work one’s way outwards in any direction. The NLP practice of Chunking Up & Down seems to operate only in one dimension – up and down, in linear fashion; Multi-dimensional Intelligence operates in multiple directions, geometrically, which it’s maybe only possible to express by means of a diagram.

Ruth Spinks

Putting a diagram on a sheet of paper like this gives it the feel of a plane declaration which falsifies. But it’s maybe all we have at the moment… Imagine different levels & connections!

So, one can do this with anything under the sun (and above it, come to that!)

n + 5 meta-I
n + 4 being in an ‘I’ appropriate to the occasion – choice
n + 3 classifying them
n + 2 recognising Multiple-I’s
n + 1 awareness of Multiple-I’s

        n           ‘I’

n – 1 false Unified-I
n – 2 unidentified somatic markers
n – 3 million unrecognised I-tags accumulated from the past
n – 4 nervous system etc

In NLP ‘Logical Levels’ is about Dimensionality. I asked myself some questions about the Dimensions of Logical Levels, especially the nature of ‘Environment’. Soul or Essence Identity emerges from the centre to encompass the universe!

From which one might extract this linear model:-

n + 5 distilling essence
n + 4 classifying them
n + 3 values & Beliefs
n + 2 things one could do
n + 1 actions

       n    Self-image – Self – Identity

n – 1 bodily Awareness
n – 2 environment
n – 3 life Context
n – 4 the universe

The NLP technique of Meta-mirror enables one to look at self as involved in a variety of Dimensions:-

n + 5 how self might look from the stars
n + 4 how self might look from other perspectives
n + 3 many other representative selves
n + 2 notional views of self
n + 1 another self

      n           Self

n – 1 self making decisions
n – 2 how other selves might be affected
n – 3 the internal milieu – its physical/emotional angle
n – 4 the reactions of the nervous system etc
n – 5 life as lived

ADDITION December 2017

In terms of music…

n + n the whole piece as complex structure
n + 6 emergent ‘tunes’
n + 5 going with the energy that stasis creates
n + 4 building clusters of notes as terminal points (moments of stasis)
n + 3 layers of notes (canons etc)
n + 2 another note as dictated by the first two etc (n + ?)
n + 1 another note

               n     a single note (middle C
as it might be for the great Alan Rawsthorne)

n – 1 another note in a recognisable key with the intention of ‘tune’
n – 2 the logic of ‘tune’ (from the belief that music is the fashioning of ‘tunes’)
n – 3 departure from the internal logic of sound
n – 4 work on proper progressions/cadences/harmony etc
n – 5 textbook chordal pile-ups (the Stanford Touch)
n – 6 the notion of ‘proper music’


The aim of acquiring Multi-dimensional Intelligence is to release thinking from a set-piece dimensional level into a larger dimensional structure than was ever before imagined by the subject who must also possess the desire/willingness, flexible attitude, energy & enthusiasm (not necessarily in the order) to acquire the methodology which may appear to be finicky in the extreme.

A person suffering from an excess of rigidity would be trapped, without comprehension of their plight, in one dimension, unable to conceptualise the world from any other dimension or way of looking at things.

It might prove to be easier for a poet to side-step one dimension to flip into another – that’s what the process of writing poetry is about; artists of all kinds already work in multi-dimensions, avoiding the cumbersome aid of conventional words. So do composers who choose to chance their arm.



  1. Im afraid I by-passed your algebra Colin as I suspect my mathematical mind would not be up to it. However, I of course, agree with your general drift. Your mention of Time reminds me of JB Priestley’s marvelous illustrated book Man & Time which I may have mentioned to you before. It is a far reaching survey of humankind’s relationship with time and includes Gurdjief, Dunne, Time & Metaphysics to name a few areas he writes about. He also has a chapter or two about precognitive dreams and includes a survey he did when he invited listeners to a radio broadcast to send in responses (about their dreams). Funnily enough, my father saw a hard back edition of the book in a Kendal bookshop in the 1970s and asked if I would like it for my birthday.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a great book, Eric!

      ‘Time—the abstraction of one mode from our experience of succession which we turn into a vast container—we seek to measure and analyse a ghost-container…’ says JBP

      Another mode of ‘time’ is The Great Time which in my notes on the book I boiled down to ‘…The Great Time is ‘everything all at once’ rather than one thing after another; it’s the ‘time’ of myths & legends, of the gods and spirits and all the great creators, of Beethoven & Mahler, of Ben Nicolson & Paul Klee. Everything all at once. So the Great Time ‘contains’ all archetypes, all the memorable events that have made themselves into frameworks of belief, of reference to things you feel you always wish to go back to. Fixed on celluloid, Humphrey Bogart is ageless and, for me, enters thus into The Great Time…’

      JBP challenges us to think of Eternity in a different way. ‘Eternity—just an endless quantity of ordinary time stretching on for ever and ever?—that’s a false notion of eternity. Real Eternity is the Great Time…’

      ‘…It never stays long, at least for most of us, but if we’re fixed in our attention to… [A influence time] we cease to be conscious of this something else, this bonus from the unknown, really arriving from another mode of Time, we begin to feel stale and weary… we are beginning to lose interest [in this world], for the scene is flat and its colours are fading. To die is not to close our eyes when we come to the end of [A Influence time]: it is to choose to live in too few dimensions. JBP

      So JBP takes us back to the main theme of my Glob – the idea of Multi-dimensionality!


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