• Vol. 03
  • Chapter 01

Magic Eye

Remember those pictures friends showed you back in the 1990s – patterns that made you dizzy, like poor imitations of Bridget Riley? 'Look carefully, they said – diverge your eyes and you’ll see the shark or the spaceship. Easy.' They’d lean over your shoulder and wait while you stared then gave up. ‘It’s a way of seeing,’ they’d say, kindly. ‘Some people just can't do it.’ Those were the friends who could juggle with three balls, curl their tongues or catch frisbees. I married one of them.

Most things this century make me cross-eyed, so recently I thought I’d give those images another go. Idling through the pages of an old book of autostereograms, I ended up dwelling upon a picture composed of small feather strokes, the colour of marigolds or marmalade. After a while, an eye emerged, the sort you’d see painted in the alcove of a Moroccan riad. My wife couldn’t see it, but she gave up juggling and frisbee games years ago. It’s her mouth that curls now. ‘What’re you bothering with that for?’ she said, vacuuming around my feet. ‘Haven’t you better things to do with your time?’

I could understand her impatience when it became my daily fix – me looking, the eye looking back. It was if my molecules shifted under its starry gaze and there I was in all my 3D glory. My wife didn’t understand when I tried to explain what it was like to be really seen. She put the book out with the recycling. And not long after, I went too.