seeing and not seeing

I posted a photo of a rabbit last week, but it wasn’t a very successful one as the bunny’s colouring blended so well with the undergrowth. I gather that this blending into the background is crypsis (as opposed to mimesis when the creature disguises itself as something else).

Here, then, is a less cryptic rabbit:

brown rabbit grazing
Camouflage hinders our seeing things that are really there, but our brains often trick us into seeing things that aren’t there.

If you want to know more about pareidolia – our tendency to recognise patterns and find significance where it doesn’t exist – you could check the Skeptic’s Dictionary or the BBC Magazine article Pareidolia: Why we see faces in hills, the Moon and toasties.

I thought seeing faces in rocks and tree stumps etc was a very human behaviour, but having loaded some photographs using iPhoto, I think perhaps computers can experience pareidolia, too.

At least, I hope that’s why the software has tagged “unnamed” faces on the photos. The alternative – that there really are people lurking unseen on the Common, is a little worrying.

There are plenty of examples of pareidolia in my poems, from the “tip-tilt,
star-gazey hare in the moon” seen in Just one More, to the dragons of Terror Incognita.

I think, though, that this is the most appropriate piece to close this post:


There are spies in the woods.

In the early morning I have seen
fine tripwires strung from tree to tree,

caught sight of silent messages
heliographed between rain-spattered leaves,

heard them signal to each other:
bird calls echoing through the mist.


Author: don't confuse the narrator

Exploring the boundary between writer and narrator through first person poetry, prose and opinion

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