Written by Karen D. Swim
The picture to the right is a Rorschach ink blot. I became quite familiar with Rorschach as a Psychobiology major in college.
Rorschach ink blots (developed by Hermann Rorschach) are a projective psychometric test. The theory is that when you show the ink blots to patients, each individual will project his or her real personality into the ink blot via the interpretation. The results were to provide a clue into the person’s psyche.
It is fascinating to see how differently each person will interpret an ink blot. What do you see in the photo to the right – the silhouette of a woman, armadillos crawling along a desert, kidneys? Each person will see something slightly different. As we view the ink blot we impose our own perspective shaped by our life experiences.
The efficacy of the ink blot has been questioned but the underlying theory that we can look at the same thing and see something different is incontrovertible. Law enforcement officers understand this theory well. If multiple people witness an incident, there will be some commonalities but each version will be slightly different.
We bring our perceptions to everything we read, see, hear and touch. For the writer, artist, photographer or marketer it is a truth that we must not only recognize but embrace. The interpretation of our words, paintings, sculptures, and photographs belong entirely to the beholder. This is the beauty and challenge of our work. In a Writer’s Digest interview, offered these thoughts:
“I’m not the one who invents the stories; I’m like a radio that picks up the waves. Somehow if I move the dial very carefully, I’ll pick up the wave and get the story. But the story doesn’t belong to me; it’s somewhere out there floating. That’s very liberating.” (Writer’s Digest, Oct. 2008)
The story, photo, painting, novel, marketing message or even blog post does not belong to the creator but to those who will shape it, interpret it and experience it through the lens of their perception. As we create we bear the burden of this knowledge. No matter how clearly we seek to articulate our ideas, thoughts and concepts not everyone will see them as presented. Once created, we must find the liberation that Allende alludes to by simply letting go.
I take comfort in knowing that in this way all truth has its own element of fiction. I release the responsibility of attaining perfection and yield myself to being the receptor of the waves intended for me. I am the vessel and not the creator. I can let go and take pleasure watching the work float “out there” free to become what each reader wants and needs it to be. Liberating? Indeed.
Now over to you reader, it’s your post, share your interpretation. The comment box is open and it’s your turn at the mic.