In front of your eyes

Fortean Times - - Letters -

A while back, FT pub­lished cor­re­spon­dence con­cern­ing things hav­ing been ab­stracted by the Lit­tle Peo­ple, and how you could get them back by ask­ing po­litely for them. My the­ory, if that’s not too grand a word, is that you are tem­po­rar­ily ‘blinded’ to what­ever you’re look­ing for, and that the ‘ask­ing’ – whichever form it takes – jogs you out of that par­tic­u­lar men­tal cul-de-sac. I think I wrote to you some years ago about how I man­aged to lose the song ‘Good Vi­bra­tions’ from a Beach Boys CD on which I knew it was. Lit­tle chance of the Lit­tle Peo­ple mak­ing away with that... and it was on the playlist, only that I was un­able to see it.

There may be sev­eral rea­sons for this blind­ness. One is what the psy­chol­o­gists call the ‘search im­age’ (I be­lieve). I found out about this be­fore I knew of the con­cept, since I ob­served that if I looked for some­thing – a book, say, or a box – I had a men­tal im­age of it, and if the ac­tual ob­ject looked dif­fer­ent (e.g. be­ing up­side down) I was un­able to see it even if look­ing straight at it. Be­ing four-eyed, I have wasted a lot of time look­ing for my glasses, and this gets worse with age. Last au­tumn I found a way to avoid this: I bought a set of brightly coloured drink­ing glasses from a thrift shop, and now I keep one of th­ese in ev­ery room, in­clud­ing the bath­room and the hall­way. I have trained my­self to put my glasses in one of those when­ever I take them off (well, al­most when­ever) and the time spent search­ing for them has been dras­ti­cally re­duced. On the other hand, I’m still look­ing for my best scis­sors, which dis­ap­peared in plain sight from a book­shelf sev­eral months ago while I was sort­ing some clip­pings. I might try ask­ing for them... but I bloody well daren’t.

An amus­ing let­ter on this sub­ject from Fa­ther David Sillince of Southamp­ton ap­peared re­cently in the Spec­ta­tor (18 Feb 2017). Here’s the con­clud­ing para­graph: “Any­body wor­ried that St An­thony is over­worked could fol­low the more full-blooded Span­ish prac­tice of call­ing on St Cu­cufato. You tie three knots in your hand­ker­chief and say: ‘Cu­cufato, Cuc- Nils Erik Grande Oslo, Nor­way ufato, I’m ty­ing up your balls; find me my [lost ob­ject] and I’ll un­tie them again.’ It al­ways works, and he is never re­sent­ful.”

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