Back to a favorite theme and some favorite illustrations. The Rorschach test, commonly referred to as ink blots, is a personality assesment tool. It was formalized by Hermann Rorschach in 1921, and has been refined through the years, but the idea of meaning in the interpretations of ambiguous images dates back to Botticelli.

As with any personality assessment, it is in many ways subject to the personality of the interpreter. It is one of many tools that should be applied in conjunction with each other.  The concept behind Rorscach’s evaluations is simple. We see what we want to see.

You knew I couldn’t go six months without using that video twice.

With healthy introspection, we can judge ourselves by what we see. Stop there. It is inappropriate, no matter how useful, to judge others. I will explain.

The entire point of interpreting images is to reveal what we do not acknowledge. We do not acknowledge these thoughts to ourselves consciously, having someone tell us what we’re really thinking is unwelcome, and typically denied. If Bob can’t admit to himself that he covets his mother, why would he admit it to you? The fact that he’s hiding the feeling is enough to tell you that he is in denial, and will most likely be angered by the suggestion that it is his desire. Everyone likes to think they know themselves.

The level of ambiguity is not important, any image with various meanings will show something about a person. Which character a person identifies with in a book or film is also revealing. What thought comes to your mind from the following image?


If you said “The Navy of the American Confederacy” you are well educated in Civil War history. The Confederate battle flag was the same design, but it was square. That square, set in a white field, was the second national flag of the confederacy.

But you probably didn’t say any of those things. Your age, social class, and location all play into your interpretation of the “Stars and Bars”. It’s a striking image, designed for immediate recognition. For a large portion of the American population it is synonymous with “Rebellion”. Some see it as a symbol of the American South, some see it as a symbol of what they believe the Civil War was about. There are even people who believe that this flag is a symbol of racism. You see what you want to see.

I find it amazing that people who consider themselves open minded and without prejudice can bundle a large portion of this country into a single group, “Southerners”, and ascribe to them motives and feelings. They obviously haven’t spent much time in the South. Or the North.

Rochester NY 1964

Rochester NY 1964

This photograph of racial tolerance in New York State was taken in 1964, during a riot which the governor had to call in the National Guard to disperse.

Long after integration was a fact throughout the South, many Northern cities continued to segregation schools based on race. In 1974 the city of Boston MA finally ran out of appeals and were ordered to bus students to attain racial parity. The violence continued for fourteen years. The following photograph, taken in 1976, won the Pulitzer prize for spot photography for Stanley Foreman.

The Soiling of Old Glory Stanley Foreman

The Soiling of Old Glory (Stanley Foreman)

Racism knows no boundaries. From personal experience, I find it more rampant in the North. Part of that is due to the difference of manifestations. In the South, if a White man doesn’t care for Black men, he’ll say so, in the middle of Main Street. In the North, if a White man doesn’t like Black men, he’ll invite them to a barbeque and talk about them behind their backs. In the South, a Black man knows where he stands with you. In the North, he’s never quite sure. So I didn’t see any racial problems in the South, I didn’t hang out with racists. In the North, I wasn’t aware that I was hanging out with racists until I knew them for a while. I didn’t see what I didn’t want to see.

Part of being a Rebel is defying preconceptions.



2 comments on “Rorschach

  1. Mari Collier says:

    Loved it. The riots in Boston surprised me when they happened. Yes, I knew Southerners felt that strongly, but didn’t realize Easterners did also. I also knew that even in the 1950’s not all Southerners were that prejudiced against the African-Americans or whatever term is now politically correct. That has changed so many times since I was a child. I did tweet for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. […] racism angle was used to reinforce the concept the Confederate flag is a symbol of racism. It is not. No more than the rainbow is a symbol homosexuality (remember the Rainbow Coalition?). Coexistence […]


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