Thursday, June 16

Confession and Illusion

I have a confession to make.  I finished The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.  I actually finished it two days ago.  I actually finished it the same day I started it!

Oh the horror!  I swear, I'm not usually like this!  You've obviously seen how I can spend long months on a book.  And for some reason I felt gluttonous because I ate it up so quickly.  I felt guilty. 

But I see now that I had no need to.  I had the time on my hands, I had a nice warm bed and lots of cups of tea, and I was earnestly and deeply enjoying it.  I had no need to stop.  I just kept on reading and enjoying it.  I should be proud of myself for the self-care.  Trust human nature to try and guilt trip me for self-care.  Hmmph!! 

Anyway, I had enough things written down to keep on talking about Hitchhiker's for days, so I intend to.  I'm sure you won't mind, because they are very good little tidbits.  Listen to this little snippet!  I think you'll catch up on the context. 


'But I can't speak Vogon!'

'You don't need to.  Just put this fish in your ear.'
Ford, with a lightning movement, clapped his hand to Arthur's ear, and he had the sudden sickening sensation of the fish slithering deep into his aural tract.  Gasping with horror he scrabbled at his ear for a second or so, but then slowly turned goggle-eyes with wonder.  He was experiencing the aural equivalent of looking a picture of two black silhouetted faces and suddenly seeing it as a picture of a white candlestick.  Or of looking at a lot of coloured dots on a piece of paper which suddenly resolve themselves into the figure six and mean that your optician is going to charge you a lot of money for a new pair of glasses.
He was still listening to the howling gargles, he knew that, only now it had somehow taken on the semblance of perfectly straighforward English. 

Chapter 5, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (published 1979). 
This little passage was a bit of a a-ha moment for me.  I am personally familiar with the image of the silhouetted faces and the candlestick, but it's something like this. 

This optical illusion, developed around 1915, was designed by the Danish psychologist, Edgar Rubin.  It is known mostly as Rubin's Vase.  The point is that all of a sudden you will see it the other way round.  You begin seeing it one way, and enough time or concentration or lack of concentration will suddenly render it an entirely new image, revealing the other side to it.  It's a very popular well known illusion.  But the thing I love about this all, is that in Douglas Adams' reference to this illusion, he is making such a great point.  I immediately know exactly what he means.  Don't you?  That sudden switch in perspective?  It's brilliant.  It's such a brilliant little snack, this book is.  I do love it. 

1 comment:

  1. AnonymousMay 19, 2012

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