Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Examples of my actual doodles.
I have spent a lot of time on the phone lately.  My 16 year old had her identity stolen, I have been dealing with Comcast, my Quicken account is double charging me and I have been dealing with insurance and dental stuff.  I have scrap paper I use for notes next to the phone and when I was going through all my notes and deciding what I needed to file or toss I noticed all my doodles.

I doodle.  I make arrows and put boxes around things.  I make circle after circle and square upon square.  So, being a curious and unemployed person with time on my hands, I looked up what all of that doodling means. I found this interesting article in Time that ties doodlers with fidgeters - HEY!  I'm a fidgeter, too.  The assumption of other, non-doodle/fidget people is that we are bored and not paying attention.  In reality -
doodlers actually remember more than non doodlers when asked to retain tediously delivered information, like, say, during a boring meeting or a lecture.  This according to a new study, which will be published in the journal Applied Cognitive Psychology, psychologist Jackie Andrade of the University of Plymouth in southern England.

Why does doodling aid memory? Andrade offers several theories, but the most persuasive is that when you doodle, you don't daydream. Daydreaming may seem absentminded and pointless, but it actually demands a lot of the brain's processing power.  Doodling, in contrast, requires very few executive resources but just enough cognitive effort to keep you from daydreaming, which — if unchecked — will jump-start activity in cortical networks that will keep you from remembering what's going on. Doodling forces your brain to expend just enough energy to stop it from daydreaming but not so much that you don't pay attention.

So - is there symbolism in doodles like dreams?  Some think so.  It isn't as decisive as handwriting, but it can indicate something about personality and state of mind.  Here are some of the interpretations my usual doodles:

Arrows represent direction and ambition. Drawn aggressively, they represent a desire for action. Drawn in careful outline, they indicate a desire for progression or advancement, especially if pointing upwards. Arrows traditionally have masculine associations.

 Drawing the same shape over and over indicates patience, persistence and the ability to concentrate. After all, how else would you be able to do all this drawing and still understand the English lecture?

Regular patterns from geometric shapes tend to indicate an organised and efficient mind. Triangles are a geometrically stable shape but also suggest direction and sense of purpose.

The circle appears in every culture as an archetypal form representative of the eternal whole. With no ending or beginning, it revolves in an eternal cycle and is linked to the sun-disk and the attendant concepts of the yearly cycle, the moon, and the wheel. In some symbol systems it also represents the universe.

The square represents the formal, mathematical, scientific order of the universe. The square represents earthbound matter, and correspondingly, with its two sides delineating a two-dimensional surface, may symbolize the earth or ground, or a field, especially in eastern pictograms.

So I guess I am organised and purposeful, persistent and desirous of action.  Whatever.

What do you doodle?

1 comment:

Nan said...

Geometric shapes, usually triangles. I'm happy to see they denote a sense of purpose and not (as I've always thought) a complete lack of creativity.