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Clouds - Research Paper Example

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Name Instructor Course May 9, 2013 Animals and Faces in the Clouds? It is a common childhood experience to lie in the grass, alone or with friends, and spot animals and faces in the clouds, as they shift and float overhead. A strong attraction of camping in a natural environment, at any age, is the luxury of watching clouds, noticing what they reveal…
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Download file to see previous pages This paper explores why this phenomenon is common. That it is a common experience is a fact reflected in the number of jokes about the interpretation of clouds. Here is an example (British Council) : Actually, a common term to describe a sky that is covered with lots of cirrocumulus or altocumulus clouds, which appear in a regular wave pattern with blue sky showing in between, is a mackerel sky. It is called that because the clouds resemble the skin of a mackerel. But in Germany and France, the popular designation is interpreted as sheep cloud, because it reminds their people of a flock of sheep . (Sometimes a Bit Fishy). This is an example of how people in different cultures might see the same or a similar cloud formation differently. Individuals of the same culture may see the same cloud images together, or may see them differently, like a Rorschach ink blot. But why do human beings look at a cloud and see animals or faces or other very specific imagery? One research study concluded that “uncertainty following a positive event prolongs the pleasure it causes and that people are generally unaware of this effect of uncertainty” (Wilson, Centerbar and Kermer 5). ...
So if children find pleasure in lying in the grass and exercising their imaginative capacities, then continuing to see shifting cloud images might be a way to prolong their pleasure. The same might be true for vacationers on a camping trip or elderly people on a porch or in the garden. But when a busy schedule intervenes and prevents the mood of pleasurable uncertainty from continuing, or when scientific logic enters the picture, reminding them of the objective details of the cloud and the understanding that it is a cloud and not a parade of magical animals, after all, then the pleasure is cut short. In his book, Faces in Clouds (Guthrie), Guthrie offers a different kind of theory about why people see images of animals and faces in clouds. Guthrie argues that humans are hard-wired toward anthropomorphic interpretation. Humans see their own attributes in gods and spirits, but also in other animate and inanimate things and events (Guthrie 193). Humans search for signs, symbols and meaning everywhere, constantly (198). When the natural world is close by, like a tree or the wind, then humans are able to apply language and logical analysis that rises above their natural inclination toward anthropomorphism. But as people gain distance from the natural event or object, when things or events are on the periphery, humans are less able to resist anthropomorphic inclinations (204). Human portrayal of gods is an extreme example of this. Clouds are not as distant as God, but they are in the periphery, in the sky of our world. Although we access scientific explanations about clouds, about mist and ice crystals and wind and rain, we find no satisfaction in these explanations. The natural inclination to interpret ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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