Do you create works of absent-minded art while talking on the phone or listening to a college lecture? Surprised and pleased (or spooked) by what comes out of your pen when your mind is half-occupied with something else? Joseph Stalin doodled wolves. Is there such a thing as doodleology, like graphology? Has anyone done a psychological or aesthetic study? I don't know. I only know I've been stuffing mine in a file folder for years.
Here's a starter gallery. (Clicking on the doodles enlarges them.) Ann Althouse* has already posted a few of her law-school lecture doodles. If you want to scan and post yours and e-mail me the links, when we get enough of them together I'll start a Carnival of the Doodles. Honor system: we'll just have to take your word that it's an honest-to-God, spaced-out doodle and not a deliberate fake. (They're usually way weirder than anything conscious or calculated could be. Mine are full of feet, eyes, wings, human and equine butts, teardrops, etc.)
*Ann challenges my criteria for a "true" doodle (a troodle?):
So, what, once you think about the fact that you are drawing, you've deprived the thing of its essential doodlosity? I was more coming at the subject from the other direction: once you call something a "drawing," you invite serious art criticism. By offering your drawing up as a doodle, you fend off judgment. You're thinking people will look with a more forgiving eye and be slightly entertained or say "that's pretty cool." But by Ambivablog's account, you'd be a fraud if you did this.
This made me think. I'm certainly not unconscious that I'm doodling when I'm doodling. But the main focus of my attention is elsewhere, and while I may be enjoying what appears, I'm not in any way planning or directing it or trying to accomplish anything. A "drawing," on the other hand, might evolve, but to my mind it would at least start out as a focused attempt to carry out an intention or design. Interesting. What do you think?
UPDATE: YES, THERE IS SUCH A THING AS DOODLEOLOGY.
But it's a very tentative science. Israel-based international graphologist Anna Koren writes:
The process of doodling appears to only be a partially conscious one. . . . the pen takes on a life of its own, and the "artist" himself is surprised by the results.
One generally indulges in doodling while one's mind is on something else, rather than on the actual matter of doodling. People doodle in various situations - for instance, in the course of telephone conversations, lectures, while compiling lists and making notes.
Here's another article on the meaning of doodles:
"It's truly amazing what can be deciphered from what you think is just a bunch of nonsense," [certified Master Graphoanalyst (MGA) Kerri] Spencer says.
In a program produced by the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) on handwriting analysis, doodles were compared to dreams in that they are expressions of the inner self.
Spencer agreed with the BBC broadcast, saying that dreams and doodles are similar in their basis in the subconscious mind.
"Doodles and scribbles are symbols (like those in your dreams) and they represent latent emotional content and disguised wishes," Spencer says.
The best web page I've found on doodles and their decipherment is the BBC's:
Abstract though they may be, doodles can reveal a lot about a person's temperment and mood and that time. . . . Doodles are expressions of the subconscious mind. . . . Doodles, like dreams, involve a form of picture language, and it is the interpretation of these pictures that reveal their meanings.
Anna Koren gives some pointers (most of them fairly literal and obvious -- if you doodle boats or cars you need a vacation; you'll draw hearts if you're in love) for the interpretation of doodles, which, she concurs, "[i]n a certain sense . . . can be compared to the interpretation of dreams in the course of psychological treatment."
Hmmm. Is that why there've been no submissions so far for a Carnival of the Doodles? Too revealing? Or is it just that few people save their doodles or can be bothered to scan them? Oh, my goodness!! Adrian Likins has posted a whole gallery of hundreds of his doodles, and the U.K.'s Doodle of the Day has a doodle for nearly every day starting in 2002! That's what happens when you Google a doodle . . .
(UPDATE: And here's the last word.)
OK, take a look and tell me I'm stark raving nuts. (BBC: "Very detailed doodles are often drawn by people who have an obsessive nature, and who simply will not let go of their ambitions or loved ones. They are also likely to be jottings of highly introverted people.")
(That last little guy is what I think of as a kachoodle -- a doodle-Kachina. I've got a bunch of those.)