Monday, August 09, 2004

False Recognition

False Recognition

I learned a new word today.

pareidolia: misperceiving a vague but suggestive shape as something definitive.

It's a condition, a human condition supposedly left over from our primitive days when we needed to spot camouflaged predators hiding in the thrush waiting to make us lunch, and I
don't mean tuna on rye.

Pareidolia happens when you're lying in bed late at night, but you left the closet door open. In the dark room filled with moonlit shadows, that XL sweatshirt you bundled up and threw on the top shelf last week is actually a gray skinned, old man bent forward, gnarled over his own legs waiting for you to drift to sleep to make his move.

Reason says there isn't a contortionist killer hiding in your closet on a shelf in plain sight, but at that hour and with a healthy dose pareidolia, the thought crosses your mind if only for a second.