Idiosyncrasies of the Mind 199
after his sight for most other objects had become very defective, while persons with much better sight for the Snellen test card were unable to detect the defective bar rels. The familiarity of these various objects made it possible for the subjects to look at them without strain- that is, without trying to see them. Therefore the bar rels were to the cooper optimums; while the needle's eye and the colors of silk and fabrics were optimums to the dressmaker. Unfamiliar objects, on the contrary, are al ways pessimums, as pointed out in the chapter on "The Variability of the Refraction of the Eye."
In other cases there is no accounting for the idiosyn crasy of the mind which makes one object a pessimum and another an optimum. It is also impossible to account for the fact that an object may be an optimum for one eye and not for the other, or an optimum at one time and at one distance and not at others. Among these unac countable optimums one often finds a particular letter on the Snellen test card. One patient, for instance, was able to see the letter K on the forty, fifteen and ten lines, but could see none of the other letters on these lines, although most patients would see some of them, on account of the simplicity of their outlines, better than they would such a letter as K.
Pessimums may be as curious and unaccountable as optimums. The letter V is so simple in its outlines that many people can see it when they cannot see others on the same line. Yet some people are unable to distinguish it at any distance, although able to read other letters in the same word, or on the same line of the Snellen test card. Some people again will not only be unable to recog nize the letter V in a word, but also to read any word that contains it, the pessimum lowering their sight not