Idle chicken scratches left on scratch paper can have profound meaning. The doodle, Matthew Battles writes for Hilobrow, “is at once the most common and the most ignored art form.” People have been doodling for millennia, scrawling stick figures into the walls of caves and onto pieces of pottery. In post-Fruedian interpretation, these doodles can be windows into people’s unconscious minds. Though the action is sometimes conflated with “scribbling,” Battles writes:
Scribbling is not doodling, because scribbles are marks made in haste or by an uncertain hand. Doodling, by contrast, is beyond craft and criticism; it belongs to us all; it’s impossible to do it badly—or well. It springs from that flourishing thicket, common to everyone, where mind shoots forth its florid branches from the rootstock of the animal brain. Its intent, if it has one, differs from the preliminary brainstorming of sketching and the territorial mark-making of graffiti: it is the graphic expression of ennui, an existential criticism of the world-as-such.