A Picture is Worth….

“A picture is worth a thousand words.” The usual understanding of that phrase is that it takes a lot of language to effectively communicate what a single image can convey. I don’t think that is quite the case, however. Words tend to be rather explicit–open to interpretation, yes, but such interpretations fall within a range of possibilities. The visual arts, though, can be vague–intentionally vague, allowing the observer a wider range of perception. Furthermore, by not being verbal, it may be that a picture can bypass typical intellectual understanding and touch one’s being in some way that is usually consciously inaccessible.

What reactions did this picture generate? Just to pick a few:


“Empty arms – grieving parent.”

“Unbearable loss.”

“Completely devastated.”

“A hunger no food can fill.”

One, which I initially thought was meant to be facetious, was: “I can see right through you.” The idea was that many of us carry a sense of depression that is usually hidden from view, but in this image is made apparent for all to see.

In any event, to ask an Aristotelian/Western question: which view is the “right one”? A case can certainly be made for each, but clearly the question is asking for something objective where the truth is subjective. In Taoist/Eastern terms, all these answers and more are complementary–like, say, the colors of a rainbow. They all contribute to a total picture and the disappearance of any one of them would distort the whole.

ugh… It is weird to use so many words to describe that which is wordless. Maybe it would be best to simply ask: “If you had to come up with a caption, what would come to….ummmm…heart.”

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