Skip to content

Elucidating the Illusion #1: The Magic Dragon


This is the first of a two part post. In this part I’m going to ask you to participate in a demonstration. In some ways it’s a mundane parlour trick, but it’s fun. In other ways it offers insight into cognition and how the mind tries to organise sensory stimuli. But I think you can take it much further than that. I think it’s an illusion that offers an insight into the Illusion. Hopefully it will help me ‘explain’ something I have been trying to explain since late 2012. I doubt very many readers will follow me through to the end. Many will think I have taken a minor neurological oddity and stretched it through metaphor into a complete cosmology. In a sense that’s exactly what I am trying to do. See the universe in a grain of sand and show it to you.

The hollow face of Albert Einstein

Being a genius won’t show you the truth. But it helps if you’re crazy.

First I urge you to go to this website and read about the Dragon Illusion. Download the PDF, print it, cut it out and assemble it. Then look at it according to the instructions. I think you will be surprised and delighted at the effect. You might also like to check out the videos here and here.

The magic dragon is a variation of the Hollow Face Illusion. An interesting thing about it is that people with psychotic ‘illness’, people on drugs such as LSD and another group of people aren’t fooled by the Hollow Face Illusion. They see it as it really is.

In a little while I will post what I think this illusion can tell you about the nature of cognition and consciousness, of self and other, of Life, the Universe and Everything. But for now just enjoy it. You might like to Google what neurologists and cognitive scientists have to say about the illusion, though most of it is behind pay walls. Wired offers the pop-science explanation that schizophrenics see the reality and we don’t because their brains are defective. Such is the stigma of mental ‘illness’.

For reminding me of this illusion and helping me to realise how it can illustrate a profound cosmological principle (or a completely trivial trick – they are the same thing) I’d like to thank Dimka Drewczynski for his article at the Psychelic Press UK, Jaideva Singh for his book Siva Sutras: The Yoga of Supreme Identity and the commenter ‘drachefly’ on Maggie McNeill’s blog The Honest Courtesan for his persistent refusal to let go of his world view despite my merciless attacks.

From → mysticism

  1. Good Spotty permalink

    Looking forward to part #2.


    • There’s now a part #3 in draft as well.

      It all got a bit verbose and technical in places so I’m trying to trim it and make it more readable. I’ll be away for a week so I expect it will be getting towards mid-April before I finish. That should give you plenty of time to create a magic dragon and get to know him. (Try standing about a metre from him, closing one eye and swaying gently from side to side while he’s illuminated strongly from above. It creates an illusion of both movement and colour).


  2. Good Spotty permalink

    I will look forward to your return, make a dragon and am probably going to order one of the Einstein faces for my office. Have fun.


Over to you

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: