Review of Reviews,  7 (1893), 426–32.

Throughth; Or, on the Eve of the Fourth Dimension. A Record of Experiments in Telepathic Automatic Handwriting



Editorial, Essay


Heterodoxy, Imagination, Mathematics, Psychical Research, Spiritualism, Evolution, Technology, Telegraphy, Experiment, Psychology

People mentioned:

Henry Sidgwick

    Drawing on the speculations of both Arthur Willink's book The World of the Unseen and the anonymous "I Awoke!", asserts that the 'Fourth Dimension is something that can be expressed by mathematical formula, and can be imagined, if you have a vivid imagination, but which has never been seen by mortal man'. At present 'Life, as we know it, consists of three dimensions: the first is length; the second, breadth; and the third, height; and the fourth is throughth, if I may venture to give it a name. We, however, get glimpses of it in clairvoyance, in the phenomena of hypnotism, and in all the experiments which are known as telepathy, crystal-gazing, thought-reading, and all things, which, according to the known laws of third dimensional space, would render communication impossible'. (426) Traces the evolutionary process by which 'space of three-dimensions replaced space of two, as space of two dimensions had succeeded space of one' in human experience, and suggests that it is 'becoming more and more evident to those who observe and note the signs of the times that we are in very deed and truth on the eve of the fourth dimension'. Chief amongst these portents of a new dimension is 'telepathic automatic handwriting, by which the mind of a person whose body is in Germany can use the hand of a writer who is in England'. (427) The remainder of the article lists William T Stead's numerous experiments, often involving members of his family, with telepathic automatic handwriting, which form 'the substance of a paper which I have submitted to the Psychical Research Society for their investigation, and upon which they will no doubt report in due time'. Defending the large number of unsuccessful experiments involving telepathic automatic handwriting, notes 'how patiently and long the electricians have laboured, year after year, completing the telephone and phonograph, before they were able to perfect either for the use of mankind', before insisting that in the case of the 'mental-manual telephone' it would be 'unscientific to count up the number of experiments that have failed against the number that have succeeded'. Similarly, 'One well established, indubitable message transmitted by the human telephone proves that the thing can be done, just as one message flashed by the Atlantic cable from America to England proved the possibility of cable communication between the continents, though immediately afterwards the cable was severed and all communications ceased'. Also refers to '"Julia"—as I call the invisible intelligence that from time to time controls my hand' (see Oppenheim 1985, 33–34). (428) Concludes by suggesting that automatic telepathy affords a 'possibility of communicating with the real self', although the instances of this 'have been of so confidential a nature that it is impossible for me to submit them or to ask the persons concerned to verify the accuracy of the statements' (431).

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