Perception Is in the Eye of the Beholder : Pop culture: They think we're lacking because we can't see those Magic Eye 3-D images. But maybe they have the problem.


The cover welcomes the viewer--I mean, the "seer"--into another dimension, a "secret theater" featuring an "unexpected universe of color, creativity and hidden meaning."

Just open your Magic Eye, it beckons, and "learn a whole new way of looking at the world." Having always been a sucker for cheap insight, I had no trouble plunking down $12.95 for my ticket to popular culture's ubiquitous faux art experience.

You know the one. It's got everybody pressing their noses to computer-generated patterns of color and shape, then visually retreating, ever so slowly, maintaining only "a vacant stare" until the upper layers of the design "fall away" and a deeper image miraculously emerges.

For months now, ever since my purchase of "Magic Eye II, Now You See It . . . " (Now I Don't), I've literally had my nose stuck in a book. I've tried alternative techniques too. Method Two, for example, involves shining an overhead lamp just so, staring at a single reflection of light, and watching the 3-D image "develop almost like an instant photo!" Not!

Yes, I've tried and tried to pry open my Magic Eye, and I've finally come to the conclusion that it is hopelessly sealed. It won't so much as blink. If it's there at all.

I am Magic Eye impaired.


Some people (men) have suggested that this might be a gender-based phenomenon, meaning that those similarly afflicted by this weird cultural disability tend to be female. This theory roughly coincides with another--that it's a verbal versus spatial issue, a showdown between English majors and math majors. Word people can't "see" through and around and under space. Number people thrive in that muck.

But a male friend who also happens to be a word person and is, as he says, "seriously Magic Eye impaired," puts it differently. "The problem is that I just can't let go."

In fact, relaxation, in both a physical and psychic sense, is essential to finding "the balance between order and chaos . . . your place in the almost symmetrical."

I can't say that makes any sense to me, although this strikes a chord: "It is difficult for most people to first experience deep vision while otherwise preoccupied in the distracting pinball machine of life." Tilt.

Whatever, a few of us are thinking of forming a support group for the Magic Eye Impaired, aimed at rebuilding our decimated self-esteem by tearing down those who purport to "see" what we cannot.

We are pretty much convinced that they're fakers. Do they really see the soccer player among the amoebas?

And while they suggest our handicap reveals some lack of "depth," perhaps, if they really are seeing what they claim to, it is because they are chronically unfocused. Maybe we see things clearly. We have a knack for zeroing in on details. We have a compulsion to concentrate.

I can guarantee you one thing: We have no trouble finding Waldo.

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