Tag Archives: Words

Pareidolia

Martian_face_vikingSo I was reading a rather badly crafted novel last night–one that was entirely forgettable other than this one word: pareidolia.  I tried to get my kindle to find the meaning, and it was unable to answer that question too.  But  Wikipedia, the fount of all knowledge, came to the rescue:

Pareidolia (/pærɨˈdliə/ parr-i-doh-lee-ə) is a psychological phenomenon involving a vague and random stimulus (often an image or sound) being perceived as significant, a form of apophenia. Common examples include seeing images of animals or faces in clouds, the man in the moon or the Moon rabbit, and hearing hidden messages on records when played in reverse.

The word comes from the Greek words para (παρά, “beside, alongside, instead”) in this context meaning something faulty, wrong, instead of; and the noun eidōlon (εἴδωλον “image, form, shape”) the diminutive of eidos. Pareidolia is a type of apophenia, seeing patterns in random data.

Sir Paul McCartney, image from Rolling Stone MagazineHuh. Who knew? Apparently people have been suffering from pareidolia  for thousands of years: seeing patterns in the stars and calling them constellations,  faces and images in clouds, and seeing the face of the Virgin Mary in the patterns on their french toast. They also hear the Beatles implying “Paul is dead” when you play their songs backwards.   The Rorschach inkblot test uses pareidolia in an attempt to gain insight into a person’s mental state.

330px-Francesco_Melzi_-_Portrait_of_Leonardo_-_WGA14795You aren’t crazy–you are extremely creative and able to visualize it pretty clearly. Even Leonardo Da Vinci understood the phenomenon–apparently he wrote of pareidolia as a device for painters, writing “if you look at any walls spotted with various stains or with a mixture of different kinds of stones, if you are about to invent some scene you will be able to see in it a resemblance to various different landscapes adorned with mountains, rivers, rocks, trees, plains, wide valleys, and various groups of hills. You will also be able to see divers combats and figures in quick movement, and strange expressions of faces, and outlandish costumes, and an infinite number of things which you can then reduce into separate and well conceived forms.”

Well, it’s a word I most likely won’t use, but there it is — pareidolia — a new word in my vocabulary.

 

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Lamed in the land of Language

IBM_SelectricMy first draft sits sullenly on my desk, glaring at me with repetitiousness and flatness of prose.  No matter how I grasp for words, a sword remains a sword, remains a sword…since to refer to it as a blade or weapon would require stretching the vocabulary…

…ellipses rise and fall with frequency across my page…boring, jarring frequency…

My characters are Angry!  Not mad, furious, enraged, excited, wrathful, indignant, exasperated, aroused, or inflamed–no–they are merely

‘angry.’

I frequently tell them how awesome they are, because my mind is inelastic, and awesome is all I know. Truthfully, they are amazing, incredible, unbelievable, improbable, fabulous, wonderful, fantastic, astonishing, astounding, AND extraordinary. But my lamed vocabulary shall forever deem them ‘awesome.’

Roget's Thesaurus 1st editionMy thesaurus has been used and abused, and still my lazy (indolent, slothful, idle, inactive, sluggish) mind gropes for words.

Inspiration has played me false. Fake, fraudulent, counterfeit, spurious, untrue, and unfounded? No! ’tis erroneous, deceptive, groundless and fallacious, this twisty beast, Inspiration.

I go quietly into the depths of the Room of Shame, that hall of horror that is my office, where I shall once again attempt to wrangle words in the desert of desperation.

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Words as Swords

shakespeare-word-cloudGrammar is such a pain. We all speak naturally in a dialect that is indicative of where we live, and there are certain peculiarities that will emerge in our scribbles.

*doh*

I was raised by a set of parents who adored words.  Long words, short words, rhyming words– my siblings and I learned words at a young age and we know how to use them and in what context.

Of course, many of the words I was taught were unique to my family, apparently, but words were important and they were celebrated.

the_last_good_knight_cover-createspace.jpgPeriodically Dad would “lose his words” and what came out of his mouth at that point we were not to repeat….

I have this wealth of words in my head, and yet when I get to cruising on a tale, I inadvertently use the same words rather frequently, as if my head is stuck in a rut.

Words have power. Words can build nations and words can tear them down. “When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”

51VAA93NY4LWilliam Shakespeare adored words too, and is credited with inventing over 1700 of the words we use today. He did this by changing nouns into verbs, and connecting words together that had never been used before. Some of these words include ‘bedroom’ and ‘courtship.’

Words can win a persons love, and words can destroy a relationship forever. “Where love is great, the littlest doubts are fear….”

To have the chance to wallow in words all day long, and get paid for it is more than amazing, it is what I always dreamed of. I live for words, to write them, to read them — to play with them. I get to quote Shakespeare! “Cry ‘havoc,’ and let slip the dogs of war….”

Long words, short words, life is built around words.

“Without the which we are pictures, or mere beasts…..”

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