Monday, November 14, 2011

Word of the Day: pareidolia

pareidolia (n)

An imagined perception of a pattern or meaning where none exists.

"....I was scared that the alien code would scramble my mind. And it turned out that I was right, because pretty soon it started to go bad for Jules and all the other clever people who did code for shits and giggles, because the temporary synesthesia and pareidolia became permanent, burned into their brains.... Jules began to see ugly patterns everywhere...."
--Paul J. McCauley, "Crimes and Glory"

When I was a kid I was "imaginative" and used to see miniature worlds in wallpaper patterns, faces in wood grain and cloud banks, and a demon's head and shoulders in a painting my grandmother had of... Snoqaulmie Falls. I mostly lost this ability as I grew up, though I still occasionally see things that aren't there out of the corner of my eye. Lately, it's mice in moving shadows. Except sometimes it really is mice.

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