Inkblot Tests

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2017-07-28 23:00:00 No comments

More from Trent:

... if I were to explain everything to you, or just explicitly lay out what the new EP is about, you’d only be disappointed. You don’t really want to know. The experience of grappling with the thing is what makes it interesting, not the immediate gratification of going, “Oh, that’s what it means.”

Who here remembers A. J. Weberman? He was the guy who plundered Bob Dylan's garbage and came up with fistfuls of nutzoid theories about Mr. Zimmerman's music, stuff that made "Paul is dead" look like Woodward & Bernstein. At this point, people have mostly settled for the idea that even Dylan didn't know what the hell he was singing about most of the time. Not because he had contempt for his audience, but because he simply wasn't doing any of this on the level of sophistication that people attributed to him, and that wasn't a bad thing.

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We don't need to know everything. One of my very favorite horror films is Silent Hill, because for three-fourths of its runtime it does not explain or justify anything. It's just primally terrifying in a way few movies are. Then it explains everything, and the thrill evaporates. Eraserhead doesn't explain anything, ever, and that's part of what makes it so magnetic for those drawn to it.

I like it when things have the nerve to be open-ended, but that needs to be coupled with some sense that the effort we pour into interpreting the thing is going to pay off. Some works seem to provide far more of a reward in this respect than others, and I'm still not sure why. My guess is it has to do with emotional projection and receptivity.

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Here's what I mean. Franz Kafka started most of his stories with an emotional state that was the product of some great and primal human fear: I'm in trouble (The Trial); I can't get in (The Castle); I'm a monster (The Metamorphosis). We all know, if only in some distant way, what those things feel like, and so we project ourselves into those emotional spaces as we read.

Very little of what I write is designed to be an open-ended target for interpretation, if only because I don't think I'm very good at crafting such things. Most of what I write is not intended to be interpreted like an inkblot. Everything you need to know to understand the story the first time out is right there. But at some point I plan on taking a stab at a work whose meaning is almost entirely subjective.

Tags: Bob Dylan David Lynch Eraserhead Franz Kafka Silent Hill Trent Reznor interpretation