Staring incessantly at the background, I rotated the kaleidoscope
ever so cautiously, so cautiously. I was amazed by how the rosette
gradually changed. Sometimes one small piece would move almost
imperceptibly, yet have the most violent consequences.
The patterns were both dazzling and disquieting, and soon I longed
to exact the secret of the device. I opened the one end, counted the
glass bits and pried the three small mirrors from the inside of the
cardboard casing. Then I remounted the mirrors, but I only put three
or four glass bits back in. The interplay now yielded far more modest results;
the patterns no longer held any surprises. But now it was easy to follow and
understand the patterns! And now it was easy to understand why
the kaleidoscope gave so much joy and pleasure!
André Gide: Si le grain ne meurt, 1926.
Kaleidoscope, invented in England in 1817, an optical instrument in
thanks to an arrangement of reflecting surfaces, one sees loose bits of colored
glass, bits of feathers, etc., form the most strange and wonderful geometrical
patterns. Used in actual practice to compose patterns. The images change
infinitely by rotating the tube so the bits form new constellations in relation
to the mirrors. Kaleidoscope images can be movingly beautiful and their initial
effect can be astonishing and surprising - but in the long run they are tiring,
monotonous despite all their variety.
Dreyer's Young People's Encyclopedia,