'Searls restores much of [the inkblot test's] potency in this rich
and resonant book ...Even in the age of alternative facts, there
are still right answers, and wrong ones, and the inkblots still
ring true' Sunday Times 'A marvelous book about how one man and his
enigmatic test came to shape our collective imagination. The
Rorschach test is a great subject and The Inkblots is worthy of it:
beguiling, fascinating, and full of new discoveries every time you
look.' David Grann, author of The Lost City of Z and Killers of the
Flower Moon 'It seems incredible that no one before Damion Searls
has ever written a biography of Rorschach...His early death may
have deterred other would-be biographers, but Searls sails past it
with style: the second half of his book traces the fortunes of
Rorschach's famous test, which became a household word in America
after World War II, when the U.S. Army used it on draftees. Searls
uses this unlikely-seeming artifact to illuminate two histories,
one scientific, the other cultural, both full of surprises.' Lorin
Stein, The Paris Review 'This excellent book begins as a biography
and becomes, when [Rorschach] suddenly dies of a ruptured appendix
at the age of thirty-seven, a cultural history of his creation.'
Harper's The captivating, untold story of Hermann Rorschach and his
famous inkblot test, which has shaped our view of human personality
and become a fixture in popular culture. In 1917, working alone in
a remote Swiss asylum, psychiatrist Hermann Rorschach devised an
experiment to probe the human mind. He had come to believe that who
we are is less a matter of what we say, as Freud thought, than what
we see. Rorschach himself was a talented illustrator, and his test,
a set of ten carefully designed inkblots, quickly made its way to
America, where it took on a life of its own. Co-opted by the
military after Pearl Harbor, Rorschach's test was a fixture at the
Nuremberg trials and in the jungles of Vietnam. It became an
advertising staple, a cliche in Hollywood and journalism, and an
inspiration to everyone from Andy Warhol to Jay-Z. The test was
also taken by millions of defendants, job applicants, parents in
custody battles and people suffering from mental illness - or
simply trying to understand themselves better. And it is still used
today. Damion Searls draws on untranslated letters and diaries, and
a cache of previously unknown interviews with Rorschach's family,
friends and colleagues, to tell the unlikely story of the test's
creation, its controversial reinvention and its remarkable
endurance. Elegant and original, The Inkblots shines a light on the
twentieth century's most visionary synthesis of art and science.
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