This may be a term you use on a daily basis, but it was completely new to me. It refers to that peculiar habit of the human brain to see faces, patterns, or meaning where they do not really exist. Like the man in the moon, or a dragon in a cloud, or Madeline's "crack on the ceiling that had the habit of sometimes looking like a rabbit." I came across it by a roundabout route. It happened like this ...
A friend introduced me to The Public Domain Review - like the National Library of Scotland chapbook archive I warned you about, these are dangerous waters. Almost immediately, I was sucked in by an article on anthropomorphic landscapes.
Athanasius Kircher (1645-6)
Flemish School (early 17th century)
Herman Saftleven the Younger (1650)
The Jurist (1566)
I also love the amazingly modern-looking Librarian which you can see here (I couldn't get a jpg image to copy over).
And it was while I was hanging out with Arcimboldo and vegetable paintings generally that I stumbled across my new word. And did I then call a halt? Did I completely refrain from checking out modern pareidolic images and the various humorous things one can do with a set of stick-on googly eyes? Of course I did. I am, after all, a History Girl.
Do you have a favourite (historical, of course) pareidolic image, anthropomorphic landscape or portrait made out of vegetables? If so, share a link to it in the Comments, and let the wandering continue. And here's to new words and the delightful strangeness of the human mind!
P.S. This has nothing to do with anything pareidolic, but if this self-portrait is anything to go on, wasn't Guiseppe gorgeous!
Joan Lennon's website.
Joan Lennon's blog.