Rorschach v. Magritte

Today’s Bizarro pits the Swiss psychiatrist Hermann Rorschach against the Belgian surrealist painter René Magritte:

(#1) (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 12 in this strip — see this Page.)

In addition to these 12, there’s a green apple in honor of Magritte (from his 1964 painting The Son of Man), plus what appears to be the Maltese Falcon, the statue from Dashiell Hammett’s 1930 novel (and the famous 1941 movie made from it). Plus, of course, the inkblots. In any case, it’s all deeply symbolic.

The confrontation. Rorschach’s inkblots against Magritte’s disavowal This is not a pipe, in a 1929 painting.  (There is a Page on this blog on Magrittean disavowals.)

From Wikipedia:

The Rorschach test is a psychological test in which subjects’ perceptions of inkblots are recorded and then analyzed using psychological interpretation, complex algorithms, or both. Some psychologists use this test to examine a person’s personality characteristics and emotional functioning. It has been employed to detect underlying thought disorder, especially in cases where patients are reluctant to describe their thinking processes openly. The test is named after its creator, Swiss psychologist Hermann Rorschach [who published the first set of 10 in a 1921 book]. The Rorschach can be thought of as a psychometric examination of pareidolia, the active pattern of perceiving objects, shapes, or scenery as meaningful things to the observer’s experience, the most common being faces or other pattern of forms that are not present at the time of the observation. In the 1960s, the Rorschach was the most widely used projective test.

(On pareidolia, see my 1/23/19 posting “Pareidolia, they control ya” (with links to earlier postings.)

An assortment of inkblots from the Creative Market site:

(#2) “Disorder is a collection of 15 Rorschach tests on watercolor paper. Inkblots were used in the 1960’s as a psychology test to examine one’s personal characteristics and emotional state.”

The two men. Magritte appears frequently on this blog. Here’s a photograph of him to compare with Dan Piraro’s representation of him in #1:

(#3) In the background, Magritte’s 1953 painting Golconda

Then Rorschach. I note first that he was Swiss, so he will be added to the roster on the Switzerland and things Swiss Page on this blog. Then some details from Wikipedia, plus a photo of him:


Hermann Rorschach (8 November 1884 – 1 April 1922) was a Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst. His education in art helped to spur the development of a set of inkblots that were used experimentally to measure various unconscious parts of the subject’s personality. His method has come to be referred to as the Rorschach test, iterations of which have continued to be used over the years to help identify personality, psychotic, and neurological disorders. Rorschach continued to refine the test until his premature death at age 37.

I don’t know whether the two men ever met in real life (though that certainly would have been possible, given their dates), or even if they knew about each other’s work. But in BizarroWorld…

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