Holmes had cultivated the ability to still the noise of the mind, by smoking his pipe and playing nontunes on the violin. He once compared this mental state with the sort of passive seeing that enables the eye, in a dim light or at a great distance, to grasp details with greater clarity by focusing slightly to one side of the object of interest. When active, strained vision only obscures and frustrates, looking away often permits the eyes to see and interpret the shapes of what it sees. Thus does inattention allow the mind to register the still, small whisper of the daughter of the voice.
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