Tangled Web

Deceptions of a transgender guy




I love illusions. From the David Copperfield extravagant stage kind, to simple optical illusions in pictures. Maybe because I want to cling to my child-self wonder of the real existence of magic.

I still remember how to bake cookies in a hat – pouring flour, an egg and milk into a hat and then with a flourish and a, “Hocus pocus, abracadabra!” produce some of my mom’s home-baked cookies in a clean, dry hat.

I can stare for ages at the works of M. C. Escher (Relativity being one example) and Salvador Dali’s surrealistic works, which are conjuring up some kind of magic and mystery for me. Have you seen The Metamorphosis of Narcissus? Exquisite.

Salvador Dalí. (Spanish, 1904-1989). The Persistence of Memory. 1931.

Salvador Dalí. (Spanish, 1904-1989). The Persistence of Memory. 1931.

In the 1990’s, a local magazine published 3D autostereograms on their center page and I was intrigued by the ‘hidden’ images jumping out at you after staring at the picture just-so.


Can you see the shark? I seem to have lost my ‘inner eye’.


(B: “Are you staring at dots again? The bunny just jumped off the bed.

Me: It’s a shark, not a bunny.

B: Then the freaking shark ate the bunny.”)



I have written before about another kind of fascination for me – virtual reality – and having an alter ego of my dreamt-of, unattainable self in my mind.

Robert Burns wrote in “To a Louse” – verse 8:

“O would some power the giftie gie us
to see ourselves as others see us”.
(O would some power the gift to give us
to see ourselves as others see us.)

No, thanks, I would not want to have that gift – to be able to see myself as others perceive me: a dumpy, bespectacled, middle-aged, graying, standoffish female. Uh-uh.

I flinch from looking in the mirror, as whom I see there isn’t me. It is a grotesque caricature, nothing like what I look like in my mind. The real me is a 3D autostereogram, only visible to me through my inner eye.

In a study done in 2015 and just released, 14% (about 1,26 million) of the Gauteng Province, one of the most liberal provinces in South Africa, citizens say it is acceptable to be violent to gay and lesbian people. Only 56% agreed that gay and lesbian people deserve equal rights with all other South Africans. Disturbingly, this is a major fall from 2013 when 71% agreed with the statement.

Rabbit duck
So, in a country where being transgender is mostly an unknown, how dare I even dream of realizing and living my dream? To be stared at like an optical illusion, with the facial expression, “What the hell are you? A duck or a rabbit?”

No, thank you. I’ll stay behind the layers. I’ll swim among the dots. I’ll be the shark that no one can see.

I live in another reality. It might be an illusion, but it is my reality.

[To the person who sent me an email invitation to join Second Life, I am grateful and honoured, but our data is very expensive in South Africa and I have a limited WiFi connection at home, not suitable for virtual living. I would have loved joining you there. Thank you kindly.]


* For examples of different kinds of optical illusions, see Michael Bach’s page.
** Inside me is a thin person,  I ate them.


Author: Kris

Hi! I'm Kris. I live in South Africa with my life partner of 27+ years, whom I call B or Madam in my posts. We have a Pug dog child, Remi, also known as Pooch, who has graced and enriched our lives for the past 12 years.

12 thoughts on “Illusion

  1. The mirror will never reflect back who I am, and by and large no one else will see me as I see myself (on a good day). Still, I know I am who I say I am, and I know you are who you say you are.
    My equivalent to your autostereograms are Moroccan Tiles and figuring out the complex patterns.


  2. I think it is artists who understand the deep things like how life itself can be illusory or surreal! I suppose I started thinking about that when I first read Alice in Wonderland as a child.


    • If not for the ability to trancend reality into fantasy, life would be unbearable to many. Lewis Carroll was a genius fantasy master. Take care, Dar.


  3. I can get lost for hours in Escher prints. 🙂


  4. I saw the shark! I had a co-worker in the late 90s that had a calendar with those on them. Every month I would stare at the new picture and try to see the hidden thing in it and never could, so I was surprised when it appeared for me this time.

    I lived in my dream world for a long time, and to some extent still do so. Sometimes illusion is all we have to get us through. I’m glad your imagination is helping you cope.


  5. There is an old Australian movie called, I believe, Fringe Dwellers. If I’m not confusing my movies seen over 20 yrs ago it beautifully questions:which is reality the waking or dream world.