One of the joys of blogging is that you never know from one day to the next where events will take you. Today, I discovered the world of pareidolia. Not to worry! It's okay.
My rusty Latin suggests the word might mean a couple of sad people. But no! Wikipedia tells us that the word pareidolia “comes from the Greek para — amiss, faulty, wrong — and eidolon — image (the diminutive of eidos — appearance, form),” and that it “describes a psychological phenomenon involving a vague and random stimulus (often an image or sound) being perceived as significant. Common examples include images of animals or faces in clouds, the man in the moon, and hidden messages on records played in reverse.” Think Rorschach Test for starters.
What got me on this particular track was a story in today’s news about some citizens of Rosemont, Illinois who believe they are seeing the image of their recently deceased mayor, Donald Stephens, in the bark of a 50-foot sycamore tree that stands outside a health club. Read on!
Stephens went to the mat to save the tree from being destroyed, and now the tree is “guarded by a barricade and a single candle placed by well-wishers stands nearby.” The health club’s membership director is not convinced it is Stephens in the tree. “I see Jesus,” she says, adding that any resemblance to the late mayor is simply the “power of suggestion.”
Call it PTSD, but what came to mind immediately was the fate of the famous Nun Bun (see photo), snatched from a pastry shop in Nashville a few years ago. The cinnamon roll bears/bore the image of Mother Teresa, and spawned a wee cottage industry until thieves made off with it. Its fate is still unlearned, though a similar but not authenticated bun showed up in Seattle earlier this year. Hope is fading.
One thing led to another in my pareidolia search, and I discovered that some time back, thousands of people in Thailand rushed to the Had Sai waterfall in Pungna province to see a puddle shaped like Buddha’s footprint. It was being guarded by a frog, who was at the time of the story, growing weak and close to death. Why? Because people were rubbing it with talcum powder in the hope of seeing lottery numbers.
Closer to home, remember the Florida goat whose birthmark that looks like a large, white number three on her side? That brought Dale Earnhardt fans rushing to the farm for a closer look. The owner of the goat (named Li’l Dale) said he’d seen people “take pictures and get tears in their eyes.” One woman told him it “gave her chills.” No kidding!
There have been reports (and some photos) of Celine Dion in the World Trade Center’s smoke, of Rasputin in a kitten’s ear, and Elvis in a potato chip.
Clearly I have not been paying close enough attention to the world around me. Once, though, I did see a photo of George Bush and I could have sworn I saw Darth Vader lurking in the shadows behind him. Well, Darth Vader or Paris Hilton. Hard to tell for sure.