Art, Science, Video

Another Facet Of God

"Crucifixion (Corpus Hypercubus)," by Salvador Dali, painted in 1954.
“Crucifixion (Corpus Hypercubus),” by Salvador Dali, painted in 1954.

Scores of artists have depicted the crucifixion since antiquity. But Salvador Dali’s “Crucifixion (Corpus Hypercubus),” painted in 1954, stands out because of its representation of the cross.

It’s not the standard wooden post with a transverse bar. Instead, Jesus is placed upon an unfolded, flattened out, four-dimensional cube a.k.a. “hypercube” or a “tesseract.”

This structure is interpreted as a geometric metaphor for the unknowable nature of god.

In the TV series, “Cosmos” (1980), Carl Sagan had explained that just as beings in the two-dimensional “Flatland” can’t conceive of the third dimension, we, who’re three-dimensional beings, can’t visualize a fourth dimension.

As god is believed to exist in a plane that’s incomprehensible to humans, so the hypercube exists in four spatial planes, which is equally inaccessible to our minds.

But Dali obviously had to portray the 4D emblem in 3D. Again, this is analogous to how Jesus, in his flesh-and-blood avatar, is more relatable to people.

We also find a reference to the fourth dimension in the lyrics of “As Time Goes By” (1931), which was adopted as the theme song of the 1990s britcom of the same name.

This day and age we’re living in
Gives cause for apprehension
With speed and new invention
And things like fourth dimension
Yet, we get a trifle weary
With Mr. Einstein’s theory
So we must get down to Earth at times
Relax, relieve the tension

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