There is something fundamental in the human mind that inspires us to see patterns everywhere. We see Elvis in a piece of toast, a monster in the clouds and gods & heroes in the stars.
There’s no doubt that seeing, and seeking out, patterns was important as we evolved into brainy creatures tapping away at keyboards and organizing and curating everything we experience to share on social media. The pattern-seeking imperative runs deep.
Imagine seeing movement in the tall grass and realizing a predator is running toward you or looking up at the night sky and seeing how the constellation of stars on the horizon change with the seasons. Seeing those patterns, and changes in those patterns, is part of being human.
Of course this inclination to see patterns, to make sense of the chaotic nature of the universe, also makes us see Elvis in a piece of burned toast. We want neat explanations, perfect conspiracy theories, loose ends tied up on the last page of a story and —most of all— we want things to make sense. In fiction, the backstory of serial killers always provides a neat explanation for outsized evil.
In real life people do extraordinarily bad things for meager reasons or no reason at all. Justifying violence on the basis of imperatives rooted in religion and politics is another monster in the clouds —a creation, invention or excuse as scary as any nightmare experienced by our ancestors looking up at the night sky for the comfort of a reason for everything.
Seeing things, seeing pictures, is part of who we are. So, I continue to look for creature in the clouds and an occasional science fiction alien in my morning coffee.