Rorschach in Vogue

When I saw in college I rode my talent for seeing multiple sides to ambiguities in poetry into a prodigy’s position (where it stuck). I could do ambiguity myself in my own writing. (My sister, reading my stellar papers, saw my ambiguities and corrected them! she never saw the star qualities, to her training they were mistakes.) And I could see ambiguities: in Donne, in Marvell … In other forms too: in Melville. And of course in movies.

These days photographers study ambiguity, choreograph ambiguities, with bigger budgets than any poet since Byron had. (Byron wasn’t big on ambiguity but he rode tangents, split them, like no body else.) Today there’s an article on a studiedly ambiguous Vogue cover:

Four domestic rights and women’s advocacy groups have asked Conde Nast to pull the new Vogue International cover from its shelves. Organization leaders charge that the image of model Stephanie Seymour, appearing to be choked by a lover, glorifies violence as an act of love.

These groups see an opportunity for publicity, like anti-defamation leagues, and jump on it: but their interpretations suck:

The guy has his hand on the girl’s throat, his other hand on her boob, more of him presses her from behind, but it’s clear to me he is not strangling her: look at her face! she’s bringing out his primitive male: and enjoying the result.
(I wouldn’t lose control with that girl: she looks like a goddam Vogue model!)

Rorschach ink blots are open invitations to all our ambiguity-related fallacies: I gotta tell a joke: No, I’ve already told it! See Dirty Pictures among my Psychology Jokes/


About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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