The Null Device
Why is the Mona Lisa's smile so famously enigmatic? Because it disappears when looked at directly, showing up in full only in peripheral vision.
"The elusive quality of the Mona Lisa's smile can be explained by the fact that her smile is almost entirely in low spatial frequencies, and so is seen best by your peripheral vision," Prof Livingstone said.
Claire Thompson, author David Foster Wallace's girlfriend of two years, stopped reading his 67-page breakup letter at page 20, she admitted Monday.
"One thing I found annoying was that you had to read all the way to the middle to figure out what things on the first page of the letter were talking about," Thompson said. "For instance, he kept referring to somebody named The Cackler without explanation until page 11, at which point I finally found out that The Cackler is my friend Renée--essentially forcing me to read the whole first 11 pages over again. And then there are all the footnotes. I always felt he overused those in his valentines, too."
"Maybe I'll pick it up again," Thompson said. "I'd sort of like to see how it ends. Then again, knowing David, it probably just leaves a whole bunch of loose ends untied."
On the weekend, I heard a track by a band named Sneeze on the Empress Hotel's PA. (They were a sort of jangle-pop band signed to Half a Cow sometime in the 1990s, and sounded a bit like the Hummingbirds or Even As We Speak or somesuch.) I did a search for them on SoulSeek, but didn't find anything that looked like them. The search did, however, turn up a lot of sound effect files, with names like SNEEZE.WAV and sneezes male 02.mp3. Oh dear, I seem to have stumbled across some sort of parasexual fetish.
I also checked the Half a Cow website. Alas, Sneeze's 41 Songs In 47 Minutes is deleted. A rerelease is due in "late 2003", though. Interestingly enough, Swirl's The Last Unicorn, arguably the best Australian shoegazer album of all time, is still available (though the tracks are in a different order to my copy).