This is a portion of The Immense Center that did not make it into the final book. Not because I felt it wasn’t good, but because I felt it interfered with the pacing. The characters are the narrator, Gabe, Mick, Seb, and Joe. The other characters besides the narrator are sixth-dimensional beings that can travel through and stop time.
“Wait, I’ve heard lots of experts say ‘time is an illusion’ and I’ve seen supposed fourth-dimensional shapes. Now you’re telling me that time is the fourth dimension. Are they wrong?” This sounded more accusing than I intended.
“Well,” Gabe started slowly, “There’s a lot there. Let’s take it one bit at a time.” Mick, Seb, and Joe chuckled and I completely missed the joke.
“Saying ‘time is an illusion’ is something of a straw man argument.” Seb interjected. “The experts saying this are rallying against the perceived notion that time is an actual entity that stands alone from space. They are arguing against time-as-a-being, as it were.”
“Certainly, time is not an illusion to you, or your family, or to any rational human being on Earth,” Joe added. “Things change over time. The state of things at one moment changes to something different at the next moment. Every human experiences things changing and the inability to go back in time and the inability to predict the future. This is time. You measure it by measuring duration and the physical changes in your universe.”
“Exactly,” Mick interjected, it felt like an after school special, with each character getting their share of stage time. “You can’t have existence without time. Time is the label we give to the observation of things changing and to our measurement of the duration; it’s not an illusion. If you look at the theory of relativity, it doesn’t work without time. Speed, or rate or velocity has a time component to it.”
It was my turn in this oddly choreographed conversation. “Wait, you keep saying ‘the label we give to things.'” The point about relativity flew right past me and I focused on a more obscure point. “Is ‘time’ a word you use?”
“Of course,” It was Gabe’s turn to speak again. “Time creates a fabric with which we work. That brings me to the next point: time is space.”
“Wait, what?” I was confused when he said this, and I must admit, I’m still a little confused.
“Those images of fourth-dimensional objects, were they animated?” Seb interjected.
“And, did that warp and undulate showing two points connecting that shouldn’t connect?” Joe continued.
“Those were folds through the fourth dimension of space, connecting unconnectable points in three-dimensions. The way that is illustrated to someone that sees in three dimensions is by using time,” Gabe concluded.
“Woah.” It somewhat clicked for me, but only somewhat. “So, it’s time and space combined.”
“Precisely,” Gabe continued. “Time, for us, is like a giant pile of linen. We can fold it, stack it, spread it out, touch it, move it, rotate it, flip it, roll it, and even sew it.”
“So, fourth-dimensional objects and time are folded linen?” This remark brought laughter from The Four, I’m still not comfortable with time-traveling beings laughing at my humor.