In Parenthesis

30 March 2011

This paragraph comes from the Wikipedia article on brackets – you’ll find it if you scroll down to the section on Parentheses () or click on 3.1.1 in the Contents:

Parentheses may also be nested (with one set (such as this) inside another set). This is not commonly used in formal writing[citation needed] (though sometimes other brackets [especially parentheses] will be used for one or more inner set of parentheses [in other words, secondary {or even tertiary[citation needed]} phrases can be found within the main sentence]).[6]

Note especially the delicacy of that editor who nested the words “{citation needed}” inside the last set of brackets, neatly making a fourth, or quaternary level.

(Because this text may be edited out of this Wikipedia page at any time, here is a link to the article as it existed today [30/03/2010]).

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The Droste Effect

21 January 2010

DrosteI remember as a child that we kept a packet of greaseproof paper on the inside of the door of a tall cupboard in the kitchen. The illustration on the packet showed a woman holding up a packet of the same greaseproof paper. On that packet you could see a much smaller image of the same woman, of course, holding up a packet of the same greaseproof paper. By about the fourth or fifth packet, the image was so small that I  couldn’t tell if the artist had drawn the woman in at all. But it seemed that even if you couldn’t see it, even if it wasn’t there, there must be an infinite series of women holding up an equally infinite number of packets.

The Droste Effect, the name given to this kind of recursive picture where an image depicts itself, comes from the name of a Dutch brand of cocoa powder. The packaging (see illustration) depicts a nurse carrying a tray on which there is a packet of the same brand of cocoa powder.

I learnt about this from the online encylopaedia Wikipedia.  When users create articles they are required to reference sources which generally seem to be online sources. I often come across pages that have been flagged as lacking citations of reliable sources. What I have yet to see is a reference in a Wikipedia article that cites an article in Wikipedia. Or better still, an article that cites itself as a source.

Meanwhile, I wonder if there is anyone reading this who can tell me the brand of greaseproof paper my family used. Or,whether there is anyone reading this who can tell me who might know which brand of greaseproof paper my family used. Or, whether there is anyone reading this who can tell me who might know who might know…

& on