In the creative community I am a part of, Anya Toomre shared a post accompanied by a most beautiful image she’d painted herself, and looking upon it, it took me a while to figure out what it actually was portraying. So I wrote a comment: I love this image. I had to struggle a bit to actually see the cat, so here’s another example of Tankespjärn. A visual one.
Anya wasn’t late to respond, asking me a question that got my thoughts going: I’m so close to this drawing because I did it so it’s interesting that you had to struggle to see the cat. What did you see? And why does this make it an example of tankespjärn?
Scrolling back in the feed to check out the image in question, once more, I was reminded. I find this image to be a piece of visual tankespjärn because the fish popped out immediately, but then… What w a s that? Weird looking eyes, but no, those aren’t eyes, those are paws, wait, hang-on, what i s this? Oh. Wait… Hm. Now I think I got it, might it be a cat? Oh. YES! It is.
Shifting my head around, looking at the weird centerpiece head tilted left, head tilted right, at long last my eyes finally locked onto something my brain could put a name to, and like an image suddenly coming into focus, all of a sudden, I got it. (Check out nekonabe by the way.) But I had to move my head around to be able to see what the image actually showed. Had I not done that, but rather kept on staring at those weird eyes (the back paws), I would not have figured it out. New perspectives are like that. They bring other things to the forefront, making me see beyond the immediate.
This interaction showed me a few things.
For one, Anya had no issue seeing the cat because she was so familiar with the image. This tells me tankespjärn is harder to get at with that you already know well, and more likely to experience it with things that are new(er) to you.
It also informs me that what’s tankespjärn for one, isn’t necessarily the same for another. Tankespjärn aren’t universal or general, but rather personal and specific. What makes me go Huh might not cause even the slightest ripple within you, and vice versa.
Of course, it also is a great reminder that tankespjärn comes in different forms. This one very visual, as opposed to the more word-based ones I most often pick up on, the read or heard ones. But there’s also the physical ones, when I try to make my body do something and it’s as if my body looks back at me with a surprised face, asking what on earth I was thinking…
And then, the obvious one for me:
I have really honed the skill of picking up on whenever I encounter a tankespjärn. I notice me noticing, and that noticing helps me stay with the slight discombobulation and discomfort that a real juicy tankespjärn gifts me with. And before I know it, that sensation has passed, and I am left slightly…. hm… More. New. Other. (Yup, as the slogan goes.)