Political Pareidolia
By R. D. Flavin


      Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird. It's a plane. No, it's a dog changing into a crocodile... Actually, it's just a Cumulus mediocris cloud and the resemblance interpretations are all in our head. As first expressed by Maggie Tulliver in George Eliot's The Mill on the Floss (1860; Edinburgh and London: William Blackwood and Sons) with , “I think,–but they've all got the same covers, and I thought they were all o' one sample, as you may say. But it seems one mustn't judge by th' outside. This is a puzzlin' world," but the idiom is now known the world over as “You can't judge a book by its cover.” All that glitters is not gold and some nations who appear as friends are not, What one might term political pareidolia. Not all clouds produce rain and not all countries are who they pretend to be.

     Everyone knows the ol' Greenland and Iceland ruse where Greenland (ON Grœnland) is a block of ice surrounded by a barely inhabitable coastline, as where Iceland has beautiful blondes, warm springs, and produces some really strange music. What's seldom (if ever) mentioned is that Lloyd Groff Chapman of Flint, Michigan (with a farm 20 miles to the east) invented the modern ice-cube tray and later sold the rights to General Motors. During its lean times, GM reached a deal with Iceland that every ie-cube tray sold would pay a minor tribute tax of a penny or three. Today, Iceland has more money than it knows what to do with (though its own people aren't even aware of it), but it's said it does possess one of the finest collections of Maria Innocentia Hummel, O.S.F. inspired Hummel figurines in the world. Also, the global terrorist organization, Hydra, has a really cool secret lair somewhere near one of Iceland's many volcanoes. If it looks too good to be true, chances are ...there's foulness afoot!

     Now, let's take the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (aka North or 'Best' Korea') and its being regarded as a quasi-socialist communist state (i.e., a militaristic personalty cult centered on the worship of the [“Great”] Supreme Leader[s], Kim Jong-un < Kim Jong-il < Kim Il-sung). Yeah, technically we're still at war, their nuclear tests are most scary, and the dearth of dogs and cats because of the ongoing famine is sadness personified. Though credited as a full-time member of the “Axis of Evil,” North Korea does provide a necessary service to the world as the largest producer of fake Viagra pills and counterfeit Marlboro cigarettes. Okay, it's not much, but it's something... South Korea just spawns devotees of the Rev Sun Myung Moon and “K Pop” and 2012's Psy's "Gangnam Style." So, maybe we should regard the Koreas in a different light.

      France has long been regarded as a sister-state of sorts, as they helped our Revolutionary War and during their tragic revolutionary period from 1789 to 1799 a coin or three could purchase dinner, drink, and a dance. We helped in spirit, but they were still at war with Britain and being threatened by crowns and were surrounded by blow-hards. The following years with Napoleon Bonaparte may be interpreted as a time of unity, power, ego, and finally ...a return to a people's government. Over the years France has given us French Toast, French Fries, and lots of really hot women. That they sell weapons to our enemies just means they're opportunists. France most resembles a stratocumulus cloud, in that it ...changes most rapidly.

Mammatus clouds.

      Sometimes the comparison between a cloud and a country may be deemed ...too bizarre and far-fetched for serious consideration. Such an example is with the Mammatus cloud (from the Latin 'mammary' or utter) an undeniably sexual allusion, and the country of Bulgaria, said by some to be named after sodimites. Okay, mixing the T & A, but please allow me to continue. The Turks advance an etymology of 'Bulgar' from their verb, bulğa ("to mix") and bulgak (“disorder”). Elsewhere (Western Europe), we find the country of Bugaria connected to anal intercourse via the term 'bugger'. The Anglo-Norman bougre is derived from the French of the same spelling, pronounciation, and meaning, which in turn was adapted from the Latin Bulgarus, an eleventh century slander which implied all Bulgarians were practising sodomites. Of course, since then 'to bugger' has somewhat lost its obscene original meaning.

      Russia has always reminded me of a tornado, that is a swirling mass of turbulent air centered over a cumulonimbus cloud. Ah, in this case the swirling air stands for the mood swings of the Russian people and the grounding over a cumulonimbus cloud is representative of its shared history with Europe. At times Russia has been a formidible force of Nature, destructive in its ways, yet sometimes aloof and unknowable. Many have been sucked into its unforgiving vortex, while others have miraculously survived unscathed. Both are still studied as we don't quite understand their intricacies just yet.

      We all have our favorites, including me – clouds, Cirrus uninus, because they always look like they're racing to or from something; country, besides America and Ireland, of course, I'd pick the Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe because it sounds like a good name for a garage band.

Cirrusuninus clouds.

      Sure, we see what we want to see and sometimes it's a pleasurable pastime, while at other times it gets us into trouble. Our imagination knows no borders, yet there are areas we shouldn't cross into. Recognizing 'reality' or 'the way things work' are fine attributes as well, yet constraint, composure, and compassion will always triumph and persevere.

      Politics has always been presented as bloodless warfare, yet much death and gore has resulted from the descisions of the lawmakers. Seeing friends as enemies and enemies as friends is a test of trust and mistrust few escape from. Mom often advised to “Get out of the rain!” I should have paid better attention... She was right about the clean underwear in case you have to go to the hospital.

Getting out my umbrella and clean shorts,

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