Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Rind, Pith, Mary

Sam Nance’s son Marty was slicing lemons at Texas Billiards in Watauga, Texas, when he noticed the face of Mary across the pith and rind of this lemon. According to this Star Telegram report, when Marty brought it home, Sam claims the face didn’t really show itself to him until he snapped a photograph, but then he saw Her.

This is interesting since certain of these examples of pareidolia, both in Madonna of the Toast and on this blog, strike the people that first see the recognizable forms, but often leave viewers of photographs squinting, saying, “What is it supposed to be?” Without straying too far afield with a discussion of mimesis, pareidolia is linked intimately to the difference between an object and an image. Looking at this lemon, we are of course not really looking at the lemon, but a representation of the lemon. The idea becomes even more complex when it comes to religious iconography since the images of Jesus and Mary spotted on all sorts of unusual surfaces are based on images, created and recreated over and over again. All of the stories collected here and in the book are about images of images.

For Sam Nance, however, the proof is in the lemon. He’s a member of the Watauga police force; in his words, “I’m a detective, and I believe in facts.” It would be hard to argue the fact that Marty and Sam Nance claim to see the Virgin Mary here. The reddish discoloring can't be missed, and it does have that semblance of a face so common here on the Toast.

Nance and his wife are religious, though not regular churchgoers. The lemon is in the freezer though, ready to be showed off this weekend. What do you think the congregation will see?

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