Friday, July 19, 2019

The Final Solution: Some Like It Hot

Do you prefer still lifes, natura morte, to portraits? Is there a test which uses such inclinations or disinclinations to profile personality? For instance, are still life lovers more like the Eleatics of the pre-Socratic school who believed in stasis as opposed to the Milesians, like Heraclitus, for whom the world was in a constant state of flux? It’s a little like the Rorschach test which also used visuals to determine traits of character. But there are lots of everyday dichotomies that can be telling. Folders v. crumplers of toilet paper is a common one which has gotten curiously little play. Some Like It Hot was the title of a famous Billy Wilder comedy starring Marilyn Monroe, but it's also an indicator of the fact that a totally different demographic or subgroup may like it cold, which in turn could reveal a host of telling aspects of their psychology. Getting back to art, are lovers of figuration recidivists, who can’t help themselves from returning to the scene of the crime? Are those who glean towards abstraction, actually realists in disguise—to the extent that a Jackson Pollock is presenting a view of the world that’s simply not been revealed before. Gay/straight, vegetarian/meat eater don’t qualify (though one’s preference for Skinner type behaviorism to the depth psychology of Freud could itself be a telling dichotomy). These are merely outcomes that could be predicted when respondents in focus groups reacted to the images placed before them on a screen. Flash a picture of a donkey or an elephant before your eyes? What’s your preference and what does that say about whether you're likely to vote Democratic or Republican in 2020?

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