We've all heard of the Rorshark test: a series of cards containing random ink blots that are shown to people in conjunction with the question, "What do you see?"
While books are not ink blots (hopefully, there's a little more deliberation to the plots, characters, and ideas than simply throwing a pile of ink on a page :-)), they are interpreted VERY subjectively...
And for a very good reason!
We all see the world through a unique, personal filter: We wear a pair of invisible glasses made up of our unique DNA; our cultural & family backgrounds; our vastly different life experiences; our beliefs, personalities, hopes, & fears -- and even the individual choices we make along the way. In essence, no two people see the exact same event the same way, nor do we interpret the same "stimuli" the exact same way.
To that end, studies on issues as controversial as politics and religion have uncovered an interesting phenomenon: While people truly believe they view the arguments, issues, and "facts" with a clear, objective, mind--and THEN come to a conclusion based on those facts--in reality, individuals begin with a conclusion or belief that is already quite solid, and THEN they see only those arguments, issues, or facts that support what is already believed (unless they're making a deliberate effort to do otherwise). In other words, we are predisposed to certain preferences to begin with, and then we interpret what we see based on those intrinsic ideas. (Ever wonder how millions of people in a given political party can agree 110% on every single nuance of an issue--in exact and total opposition to EVERYONE on "the other" side--when it's not even possible to find five adults who can agree on what to have for dinner????)
This is not necessarily a weakness! It simply underscores the power of thought & belief in our lives--something that can be used to great advantage, especially, if we understand this nature and seek to look at things from opposing points of view, venture outside of our comfort zone(s), and at the least, respect the fact that our opinions may not be as "fact-based" as we believe.
That said, what we read, what we prefer to read, and even what we SEE when we devour a book may tell us as much (or more) about ourselves as the actual book, author, or genre: A book (like so many other things in life) is, to a great degree, a Rorshark.
So, the next time you are truly gripped by a book--good, bad, or indifferent--consider looking deeper than the plot, characterization, and pacing into the unique, individual story that is you--and you might just find a wealth of fascinating information!
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