A recent photo posted to Twitter — of a dog’s image in a piece of wood — gets me to thinking: Why is almost always Jesus (or sometimes his mom) and dogs (or sometimes other animals) that show up in inanimate objects, i.e. inside wood, on grilled cheeses, in potato chips, Cheetos, peirogies, tortillas or cinnamon buns?
There are exceptions to the Jesus and dogs rule — potatoes that look like George Washington, chicken nuggets that resemble Abraham Lincoln — but even then it’s commonly what we cherish most (such as beloved presidents) that we think we see.
Chris Blundell recently posted the image at the top of this post on his Twitter page.
There, it was quickly joined by more reader submitted photos of dogs in wood:
I won’t sink to pointing out what dog spelled backwards is, but I’ll say this:
If Jesus showed up on my grilled cheese, I’d eat it anyway. If there was a dog visible in my wood paneling, on the other hand, I wouldn’t paint over it.
With the rise of social media, we’re seeing much more of this type of thing.
But it has always gone on — so much so that there are names for it.
Pareidolia is seeing (or hearing) something significant in a random image or sound. The word is derived from the Greek words para, meaning something faulty, and the noun eidōlon, meaning image, form or shape.
Sightings of spiritual or religious images in objects are called simulacra.
Those are the most famous, and the most often reported — the faces and or bodies of Jesus or the Virgin Mary having been perceived, by both believers and non-believers, in toast, frying pans, grilled cheese sandwiches, the facade of buildings, firewood, rocks, tortillas, cinnamon buns, pretzels and more.
By the way, that grilled cheese Virgin Mary, seen directly above (some people thought the image more closely resembled Bernadette Peters) went on to sell on eBay in 2004 for $28,000.
Jesus, too, has been seen in grilled cheese sandwiches, including this one — though when I look at it, I see a dog. (Then again, I’m the guy who spent countless hours during my year-long road trip with Ace, looking for the image of dogs in kudzu.)
It’s really nothing to be ashamed of, this spotting of things within other things. To the contrary, I think those who spot them, while they might not be blessed with eternal life, are blessed with an active imagination. They are able to look at clouds and see something else entirely.
Leonardo da Vinci wrote about pareidolia, saying this: “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.”
Georgia O’Keefe used it in her paintings of flowers, embedding hidden images that more often than not left us feeling guilty for having dirty minds.
Psychologists used it with their Rorschach tests, which had us interpret random inkblots that more often than not left us feeling guilty for having dirty minds.
Then again, we tend to see in random objects the things we long for, the things that make us happy.
There are exceptions to that as well. Some hated and feared faces have been spotted in objects over the years — with Satan being the most common.
But far more often we see something that soothes us, like dogs, something that gives us hope, like dogs, something that makes us smile, like dogs.
So, if you’re seeing things within things, don’t rush to a shrink. Don’t join a pareidolia support group. Instead, celebrate and savor your pareidolia — whether it be through pieces of wood, your morning toast or with those fluffy white clouds dancing like … you name it … across a deep blue sky.
(Photos: Twitter, Wikipedia, Imgur)
Posted by John Woestendiek February 14th, 2017 under Muttsblog.
Tags: cheetos, chicken nuggets, clouds, dog, dog in wood, dogs, grilled cheese, image, imagination, inanimate, jesus, kudzu dogs, objects, pareidolia, photo, photograph, piece of wood, potato chips, psychology, random, rorschach, see, sightings, simulacra, social media, tests, toast, twitter, virgin mary
They are everywhere — tall dogs, short dogs, big dogs, small dogs, black, white, brown, red, yellow and brindle dogs.
There are smelly hippy, just-passin’-thru dogs (and I’m not saying from where the odor is emanating — human, or canine, or perhaps the sweatstained, refrigerator-sized backpack).
There are gigantic purebred poodles, as regal-looking as their owners.
And there are a whole lot of Labs, shepherds, terriers, hounds and who-knows-whats in between.
Santa Fe calls itself “the city different,” for numerous reasons, but perhaps nowhere is its diversity more noticeable than in its dogs.
You see dogs on street corners. You see them in Santa Fe Plaza, the town’s main gathering place. You see them in outdoor restaurants, poking their heads out of passing cars and, by the dozens, at Frank S. Ortiz Dog Park — an expansive swath of high desert, dotted with cholla and juniper (provided by nature), and dog bowls, plastic chairs and poop bags (provided by its users).
Despite its lack of frills, Frank S. Ortiz Dog Park — it’s named after a one-time mayor — has arroyos and hills, miles of paths, and commanding views of the town. (By virtue of its size alone, it appears destined to make our top 10 dog park list.) Yes, dogs are one thing you can’t avoid in Santa Fe.
Dogs and art.
Art, too, is everywhere — street corner stands,murals, ritzy galleries, rustic studios. The only thing there may be more of than dogs in Santa Fe is artists, many of whom draw their inspiration from the scenic beauty around them.
So, actually there are three things you can’t avoid in Santa Fe — dogs, art and nature’s beauty. It — along with a climate sent from heaven — make it a highly liveable, and visitable, city. Beauty can be found in nearly every direction you look, from the Jemez Mountains to the west to the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, rising high to the southeast.
Speaking of rising high, there are actually four things you can’t avoid in Santa Fe — dogs, art, nature’s beauty and high prices. There’s no escaping high prices. Sooner or later, they will get you — or perhaps even stress you out.
If so, you can always visit a spa, because actually there are five things you can’t avoid in Santa Fe — dogs, art, nature’s beauty, high prices and spas. In town, on the edges of town, up in the mountains, there is an abundance of places to get wrapped, scrubbed, rubbed, boiled and oiled. I’m not sure who goes to all the spas, probably the same people that buy all the art and eat the high priced restaurant meals — namely tourists.
So that makes six things you can’t avoid in Santa Fe, if you count the tourists, who stay in hotels that, like all other structures in town, are made of adobe, which is the seventh thing you can’t avoid in Santa Fe — adobe. I’ve yet to see a house exterior of wood, brick or — heaven forbid — vinyl siding.
On top of those seven things, there are plenty of other things that can be found in abundance in Santa Fe– sunsets, rainbows, good food, opera, legends, history, crafts, and, my personal favorite, clouds.
Here’s my theory on the clouds, and why cooling afternoon showers are fairly common here. Clouds come in from the mountains, usually — like tourists — in a group. The clouds look down and like what they see — harmony, art, spirituality, pleasing terrain, disposable income, seekers, healers and art appreciators. And, being an art form themselves, the clouds decide to stay around a while — so that they may both appreciate and be appreciated.
In my five days here, I’ve noticed that, unlike clouds in most places, neither the big fluffy ones or the wispy flat ones — to use the scientific terms — seem to be moving, and, if they are, it’s imperceptibly slow. Instead, they seem to be lingering, hanging out, enjoying the view. Meantime, new clouds come in, and they decide to linger, too. And so on and so on, until there are so many clouds, elbowing each other for space in the formerly big blue sky, that they become entangled, much like the traffic downtown.
As a result of all that brushing up against each other, and moving into each others’ space, meteorological things begin to take place, and — not to get too technical — rain and wind result.
Sometimes, after that, you get rainbows. Sometimes, you don’t. That’s life, in Santa Fe.
(To read all of “Dog’s Country,” the continuing story of one man and one dog spending six months criss-crossing America, click here.)
Posted by John Woestendiek July 12th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace does america, adobe, animals, art, artists, beauty, clouds, dog parks, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, frank s. ortiz dog park, high prices, mountains, nature, new mexico, ohmidog!, pets, rainbows, road trip, santa fe, seven things you can't avoid in santa fe, spas, sunsets, tourists, traveling with pets
Shadows cast by clouds
Slow dance on red canyonsides
Terra cotta waltz
(Highway Haiku is a regular feature of “Dog’s Country,” the continuing tale of one man and one dog spending six months criss-crossing America. “Dog’s Country” can be found exclusively on ohmidog! To read all of “Dog’s Country,” from the beginning, click here.)
Posted by John Woestendiek July 7th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace does america, arizona, canyons, canyonsides, clouds, colors, dog's country, haiku, highway, highway haiku, new mexico, ohmidog!, poetry, road trip, shadows, southwest, sun, terra cotta, travel, traveling with dogs