Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Projective Paradox of My High School Senior Year

A Projective test, according to Wikipedia, "in psychology, is a personality test designed to let a person respond to ambiguous stimuli, presumably revealing hidden emotions and internal conflicts. This is different from an "objective test" in which responses are analyzed according to a universal standard (for example, a multiple choice exam). The responses to projective tests are content analyzed for meaning rather than being based on presuppositions about meaning, as is the case with objective tests. Projective tests in general rely heavily on clinical judgment, lack reliability and validity and many have no standardized criteria to compare results to, but are still used frequently. Their popularity despite lack of scientific evidence supporting their results is referred to as the "projective paradox".[1] Projective tests have their origins in psychoanalytic psychology, which argues that humans have conscious and unconscious attitudes and motivations that are beyond or hidden from conscious awareness."

This has to be the best written, or glyphed, thing I ever did in high school, undertaken one period in a hip Psychology class, first semester.

It went like this: seven frames, each with some small starting compositional line or lines. We are asked to complete the drawings, without any further instructions. Afterward, we are debriefed, and this is where I can tell I was hooked, for my notations are in a far more scrupulous hand than was my norm (the misspellings are all-too typical.) The suspense built throughout the seven squares, leading up to the holy of holies----The Constant Hard-On. My memory served me well, but still---the full impact was lost until seeing it again just recently.

Now if I was a therapist, the first thing I would question is the utter lack of orientation the artiste displays. It seems almost perverse the way the "studiee" redirects his horizon plane like a Tibetan prayer wheel, willfully spinning it to cover all the bases. But it is in the sheer symbolic weight behind what he is attempting that literally boggle one's (own) mind! Mechanical ability is Edwardian propriety overwhelmed by natural forces! That the circle would become the sun is perhaps common, sun and face less so, but in that the rectangle would not become the door; instead, the Atlas challenge! Then the archetype of a gridded map, and the gender-paired signs of laser-focused sociability; the struggle inherent in the creative expression, conquering mountains in order "to get home." Sisyphus indeed! Sublime!

But it is in the seventh seal that true historiography is written. Two parallel vertical lines. Oh, how many boys will create the phallic tree symbol? Um...96 percent? How cheap of the era's teacher, to then claim the tree symbol associated sex with marriage and children! Catholic pederasty would be better! The tree associates with only one thing! The mighty manly phallus! But, not, simply, put, here! No here, the tree is broken!

I remembered this frame, with its enshafted shaft, and it's photosynthesizing greenery like a pubic hair crown, very clearly. But what I had forgotten was the sky filled with circling vultures! So many! Ready to pounce on any straggling life forms that may chance to crawl across "the box!" Oh wounded youth! Let me succor you now in my strong healing embrace! Your honesty is your redemption! May you always....

In honor of my public school Psych teacher (um....?); and my divine journalism teacher (er...Mrs.?); and then Mr. Currie, the AP English teacher and head of the department who said I couldn't read and couldn't write---who said that I'd never amount to anything, (I forgive you. I treated you with horrible disrespect. I gave you no work at all.) And most importantly, to Kent Cathcart, the intellectual genius and evolved spiritual master walking humbly amongst men; My Drama Teacher, sniffle; the man who literally saved my life.

That I could pass on such a benevolent influence to the younger generation as he passed on to me, would be the highest aspiration of my life. That we are all stars. Thank you Kent.

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