The Rorschach Technique

“That’s the picture of the ham hock you showed me before. Hog jowls. Pork chops. Chitlins. ‘Possum shanks.”

Jethro Bodine, The Beverly Hillbillies, Season 6, Episode 7, “The Army Game”

“Heard a joke once. Man goes to doctor. Says he’s depressed. Says life seems harsh and cruel. Says he feels all alone in a threatening world where what lies ahead is vague and uncertain. Doctor says, ‘Treatment is simple. Great clown Pagliacci is in town tonight. Go and see him. That should pick you up.’ Man bursts into tears. Says ‘But Doctor… I am Pagliacci.'”

Walter Kovacs/Rorschach, Watchmen, Alan Moore

“Oo, oo, oo!”

Arnold Horshack, Welcome Back, Kotter

First published in 1921, Hermann Rorschach’s Psychodiagnostik gave 10 famous inkblots to the world. Though what came to be called the Rorschach test did not immediately gain popularity, it was in vogue in psychiatric circles (and sit-coms) in the 1960s. It’s efficacy as a therapeutic tool has long been a matter of debate. There is no doubt that Rorschach’s inkblots have had a great impact on creativity.

The book itself is said to have been inspired by an 1857 book of poetry by by German doctor Justinus Kerner who based each poem on an accidental inkblot. No less a psychological luminary than Alfred Binet experimented with inkblots as a creativity test. I’m not sure I would pass Binet’s test, but I did get inspiration from Rorschach’s inkblots.

Angela and I have started writing more fiction. Right now, Angela is picking a random picture for us to use as inspiration. It will be interesting to see how our brains diverge. While we are working on that we present for your consideration a few of the inkblot stories that got this whole mess started.

Butlers

Two butlers, eminently proper, have met while their respective households do not need them. The wine, surprisingly, is a rose, but the conversation is polite and reserved. Neither wants to be the first to confess his love for the other lest he be rejected.

Jack and Jill

Jack and Jill, having long ago survived their misadventure on the hill return to reminisce. And rather than bring down a pail of water, they have brought up bottles of Champagne to sip as they lie back and watch the clouds move above them.

Poor Aslan

Susan woke from her nightmare with a start. It was the same dream over and over. She hadn’t been back. She missed it. She was disappointed but not angry. But that could be the only explanation. Some part of her, some unforgiving part, was angry. Why else would she dream of Aslan’s pelt nailed to the lamppost?

Wizard's Revenge

Angela gets part of the credit for this one. She suggested “a headless wizard casting a smoke spell.”

At last, his revenge was at hand. After years of plotting, after countless hours spent searching out ingredients, preparing incantations, and perfecting the ceremony, the spell was ready. Tonight his phantasms would roam the land. Tonight the wizard would once again have his head.

Who watches the Watchmen?
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