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In Chapter Three of Tamper, Whit tells his psychiatrist, Dr. Carnes, about weird
childhood experiences like seeing a face in the Formica counter top of his parents'
kitchen; hallucinations involving the Seven Dwarf pictures on his bedroom wall, induced
by
paregoric, which his mother administered to ease the pain of teething; and the faint
sounds of clanking and rumbling from deep underground, which may or may not be
mysterious miners. That the Seven Dwarfs were miners is not specifically mentioned in
the text, but one might conclude that the pictures influences Whit's interpretations of
the noises he hears. There is also a suggestion that the sounds might have been
vibrations common in any house, travelling up to Whit when he presses his ear to his
pillow, but contradicting that theory, Whit tells Dr. Carnes that, one night, someone or
something actually entered his room.
The above NASA photo of the surface of Mars was widely published in tabloids,
magazines, and on the Internet because it looks like a face, but another photo of
the same area, below, show that the face is an illusion created by shadows.
Potmodern novelists and film-makers have reflected on apophenia-related phenomena,
such as paranoid narration or fuzzy plotting (e.g., Vladimir Nabokov's
Signs and Symbols,
Thomas Pynchon's
The Crying of Lot 49 and V., Alan Moore's Watchmen, Umberto Eco's
The Name of the Rose and Foucault's Pendulum, William Gibson's Pattern Recognition,
and August Strindberg's Inferno.
Pareidolia is a psychological
phenomenon involving a vague and
random stimulus (often an image or
sound) being perceived as significant.
Common examples include seeing
images of animals or faces in clouds,
the man in the moon, and hearing
hidden messages on records played in
reverse. The word comes from the
Greek para- ("beside", "with", or
"alongside"—meaning, in this context,
something faulty or wrong (as in paraphasia, disordered speech)) and eidolon ("image";
the diminutive of eidos ("image", "form", "shape")). Pareidolia is a type of
apophenia.
Apophenia is the experience of seeing patterns or connections in random or
meaningless data. The term was coined in 1958 by Klaus Conrad, who defined it as the
"unmotivated seeing of connections" accompanied by a "specific experience of an
abnormal meaningfulness".