The duck and the rabbit hide in plain sight. Here I refer not only to the image, but to this website. On the one hand, it’s open: anyone can type in the URL and find it. But you have to know the URL in order to find it. The site is hidden in the sense that it won’t show up in Google searches. My main interest is in sharing this site with people who know me, and I hope that the fact that its readership is rather, ahem, exclusive, will encourage those of you who would otherwise never do any such thing to engage with the duck-rabbit in the comments sections. Go on … it won’t bite … or only with the most gently nuzzling nip.
Just how exclusive is the duck-rabbit’s readership? Well, I can divulge here that there is a stringent and lengthy vetting process before an invitee is granted entry to the duck-rabbit’s hole. (Pauses to consider the obvious sexual connotation of the word “hole” and whether the innuendo implied in inviting readers into one’s hole is really the tone one wishes to assume with respected friends and colleagues. Considers substituting “burrow.” Or “lair.” After thoughtful reflection decides that such a substitution would be pandering to prudery not to mention patronizing to the duck-rabbit’s highly sophisticated readers. Elects to stick with hole.)
For the sake of transparency I will now enumerate the elaborate set of criteria that each of you were required to meet in order to receive an exclusive invitation to the duck-rabbit hole. Sorry, please bear with me, there now follows a lengthy list all of the various eligibility prerequisites:
- You know me.
- I like you.
- You do not have tenure voting rights within my Department.
It turns out it’s not a very long list.
While I’m quite happy for the duck-rabbit’s readership to remain a small coterie, I’m also happy for you to pass on the URL to anyone who meets an adapted version of the above eligibility requirements. So:
- They know you.
- You like them.
- They do not have tenure voting rights within my Department.
However, you and any future readers should know that you remain under observation. That’s right. This is a trial period.
What can I possibly mean, you ask? Do you mean to say you didn’t realize that you were being watched? That I could see all of your charming faces? I assure you, it’s quite true! In fact, I’m watching you right now dear readers! You really don’t believe me?
I can prove it easily enough if you really want me to …. All right then …. if you’re quite sure this is what you want? Ready? Here we go:
Natalie, you are rocking that dress; it’s from Next, right? Joshua, brush that crumb from your lip. No; the other side; there! You’ve got it. Alex, I see you smirking, dude. Emily, don’t worry, it’s nothing I haven’t seen before. Tarot, you have the most awesome bedhead! Eden, seriously, Cool Ranch Doritos for breakfast? Jonny, just press send; it’s great as it is, honestly, I read it last night. Claire, umm, didn’t I lend you that top in 1998? Leo, never fear, a duck-rabbit never tells. Eric, your toast just popped up. Pete, actually I think the treadmill does go faster than that; try adjusting the settings on the lower right. Diantha, so that’s how you get your eyebrows so perfectly shaped! Francine, the reason you can’t find them is because they’re on your head! Tessa, yes, you did already add the baking powder! Louisa, I won’t tell on you either but you should at least open the window.
Is that proof enough?
I could go on and on except that the rest of you, as I can see from the multi-screen console that dominates the duck-rabbit-hole’s inner sanctum, have hastily turned off your phones and slammed shut your laptops in the last 15 seconds. Hey! Come back! Sorry! You insisted! No more spying, I promise.
But are you really saying that you can’t see me?
I swear I thought it was a two-way mirror.
But if it’s really not, well in that case the duck-rabbit hole really deserves to be described more fully. It’s a curious place, its own kind of two-way mirror. Call it a two-way portal. You know what a wormhole is? No? Well (loftily), allow me to enlighten you! A wormhole is a rift, as it were, in the spacetime continuum.* The duck-rabbit hole is structurally similar to a wormhole in that there are two openings, each in a different point in spacetime. One, as you already know, opens onto the bucolic grounds of Hampstead Heath. The other end opens into an LA carport. It’s true; the LA portal is not, on the face of it, so charming as the London one. It’s all concrete and exhaust fumes rather than cow-parsley and the sweet scent of sun-bleached meadow grass. But Samuel Johnson’s words notwithstanding (“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life”), soon enough the duck-rabbit finds itself scurrying over to the LA portal craving Korean food and itching to get back to its barre class.
There’s a time difference, of course, between the hole’s two entrances, which, the duck-rabbit finds, upon reflection, to be a most attractive feature. When it’s the dead of night in LA it’s time for elevenses in London. And if the duck-rabbit finds itself tossing and turning come midnight in London it can simply head over to bask in the warm glow of the late-afternoon LA light and doze off while watching the palm trees bending in the breeze.
There are also structural similarities to the Tardis in that the duck-rabbit hole looks extremely modest from the outside but is really quite extraordinarily commodious within.
Speaking of recessed-yet-capacious spaces, I was just reading the most brilliant essay on the relationship between closetedness and the media from the eighteenth century to the present. The author argues that the Enlightenment establishes a paradigm that identifies being out of the closet with publication in the mass media (so, in the eighteenth century: print), and shows how the legacy of this paradigm remains with us in our twenty-first-century insistence that a public figure has not really come out as gay unless the mass media is involved.** I know what you’re thinking, reader, because I was thinking it too: At last! Jodie Foster and Samuel Johnson are finally together in the same paper!
As the paper fascinatingly showed, the closet shifts, in the Enlightenment, from being a space of clandestine pleasure and exclusive knowledge to a space that is at once claustrophobic and associated with solipsistic self-indulgence. So, Hume, as the article’s author discusses, observes that “When a philosopher contemplates characters and manners in his closet, … the sentiments of nature have no room to play.”
On that note, let’s break for lunch.
*The duck-rabbit’s in-house physicist was consulted, who assured it that this was a legitimate usage of the phrase “rift in the spacetime continuum,” a phrase which the duck-rabbit has always wanted to use but has not had the opportunity to do so until now.
**It’s an unpublished essay that I was peer-reviewing for a journal, so I don’t know the author’s name.