|Detail, Elephant Mural, Portland, Oregon © Doug Hickok All Rights Reserved |
(Velvia slide film)
Do you know the old Hindu parable about the elephant and the blind men? Several versions exist, but it basically goes like this...
6 blind men (who do not know they are blind) gather around an elephant, each touching only a part of it, the trunk, the head, an ear, etc. Each blind man then interprets what he thinks the elephant is, based on what he has learned.
Of course there is disagreement among them. The blind men each stubbornly hold to their opinions, and eventually come to blows. In an alternate version, they compare their varied knowledge and reach an agreement.
Another version tells of a sighted person walking by, explaining to the blind men what the elephant actually is. At this point they realize for the first time they are blind.
A more contemporary version of the parable reverses the circumstances, where 6 blind elephants each determine the nature of a man.
They all conclude he is flat.