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.
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.
(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.
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.