Day 59. In which the rabbit makes its presence felt

At the end of this morning’s session, Dr. F. disclosed something that deeply disturbed the duck-rabbit.

“Oh, I know what I was going to tell you,” she said casually, as I was walking out the door. She explained that by chance she’d been printing out some examples of optical illusions for a presentation she was giving at her child’s school.

I nodded. “Was the duck-rabbit one of them?” I asked, smiling.

“Yes! And I hadn’t even realized it was an optical illusion!”

I paused in the doorway and frowned, perplexed. “What do you mean?”

“Well, I had only ever seen the duck … the one I printed out was exactly the same image that you use in your blog but I had never realized that it was an image of both a duck and a rabbit!”


Be honest, readers: are you too at this very moment slapping your forehead and exclaiming, “So that’s why it’s called Notes from the Duck-Rabbit Hole!”?

Really? You are?

Now, to be fair to Dr. F and all the rest of you who are slapping your foreheads at this very moment and scrolling to the top of the screen to see if the image really is both a duck and a rabbit, I’m not exactly sure why I assumed that no explanation was necessary. Maybe all this time you’ve all been seeing a duck and only a duck in the header and just assuming that the expression duck-rabbit is some odd Britishism, like aluminium or lieutenant (“oh, in Britain, duck is spelled duck-rabbit, but the rabbit is silent.”)

But, on the other hand, I must confess, dear reader (and please don’t take offense), that the fact that you didn’t notice that the duck-rabbit is an image of a rabbit as well as a duck does give me pause.

Because it can’t help but raise the question: what else are you missing?

Are you registering the port but not the manteau? The tomayto but not the tomahto? [1] The jolie but not the laide? The French but not the twist? The jabber but not the wocky? The turd but not the ucken? The tick but not the tock? The web but not the log? The apples but not the pears? The truth but not the dares? The lady but not the tramp? The mirror but not the lamp? The “I think” but not “therefore I am”? The green eggs but not the ham? The bloody but not the hell? The pussy but not the well?

This is the kind of thing I worry about it. Well, to be precise, it’s the kind of thing the rabbit worries about because the rabbit is an overthinker and a smartarse. And maybe the point of therapy is precisely to cut through all that rabbit and get right down to the duck. [2] In which case, Dr. F, your ability to attend to the duck and tune out the rabbit is entirely to your credit. Keep your eye on that duck. Whatever you do, don’t let him slip out of view and metamorphose back into a restless, twitchy rabbit. She’ll only hop evasively around your questions and try to distract you with wordplay and sophistry. Trust me.


[1] I once got into an argument with a Canadian and an American about the pronunciation of the word tomato. The argument was not over the correct way to pronounce it; the argument was over which pronunciation (British or North American) more fully captured the essence of the fruit. The North Americans argued that the American pronunciation captured the fruit’s freshness and acidity. I argued that the British pronunciation captured the fruit’s plump roundness. The North Americans argued that the tomato’s roundness was less important to its essence than its freshness and acidity and that therefore, logically speaking, the North American pronunciation was clearly superior. At that point I admitted defeat with extremely bad grace.

[2] The image I have in mind here is of a duck-rabbit version of a turducken. Instead of a chicken stuffed inside a duck stuffed inside a turkey, it would be a duck stuffed inside a rabbit: a rabbuck. Is that even possible? Well, obviously, it would have to be a large rabbit and a very small duck, perhaps even a duckling, in which case we would call it rabbuckling. Would it taste good? That’s not the point.


Leave a Reply