Saturday, March 2, 2013

Of Blind Men and Elephants




There is a very old Asian Parable about the utter foolishness of how a man can "see" a thing he has in his hand quite clearly, yet by his trying to extrapolate the meaning of the whole from that mere handful, his concept on the whole of the thing is off by a mile!


In this parable, (with small variation) there are six blind men. Each of whom are tasked by their king to touch an elephant, then each in turn is requested to tell the king, based on his experience exactly what sort of beast an elephant really is!
Depending upon the version, an elephant is in turn described by the various blind men as being akin to:

  • a winnowing basket
  • a plowshare
  • a plow
  • a granary
  • a pillar
  • a mortar
  • a pestle
  • a water spout
  • a fan
  • a throne


In 1873 The American, John Saxe, borrowed quite liberally from the legends, published a poem he entitled simply enough as;

"The Blind Men and the Elephant"

The Blind Men and the Elephant"
by John Godfrey Saxe

It was six men of Indostan
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind.

The First approached the Elephant,
And happening to fall
Against his broad and sturdy side,
At once began to bawl:
"God bless me! but the Elephant
Is very like a wall!"

The Second, feeling of the tusk
Cried, "Ho! what have we here,
So very round and smooth and sharp?
To me 'tis mighty clear
This wonder of an Elephant
Is very like a spear!"

The Third approached the animal,
And happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands,
Thus boldly up he spake:
"I see," quoth he, "the Elephant
Is very like a snake!"

The Fourth reached out an eager hand,
And felt about the knee:
"What most this wondrous beast is like
Is mighty plain," quoth he;
"'Tis clear enough the Elephant
Is very like a tree!"

The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,
Said: "E'en the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most;
Deny the fact who can,
This marvel of an Elephant
Is very like a fan!"

The Sixth no sooner had begun
About the beast to grope,
Than, seizing on the swinging tail
That fell within his scope.
"I see," quoth he, "the Elephant
Is very like a rope!"

And so these men of Indostan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong!

Moral:

So oft in theologic wars,
The disputants, I ween,
Rail on in utter ignorance
Of what each other mean,
And prate about an Elephant
Not one of them has seen.

Miz Know It All  has spent far more time than you can know in wandering the back halls of Blog-O-Stan. Looking high and low into all the various and sundry dark corners, and there are many... And quite unlike anyone else in this demented land,  she has listened, yes actually listened to all the many and competing arguments given by all. In that time, the one thing that has remained consistent is that each and everyone of these many many things bunched up under the rubric of "Trans and Transgender" are to a one so very much like the dissembled elephant from both of the parable and the poem. So much so, that yours truly shall endeavor over the six weeks or so to enlighten how it is that these six different takes are exactly like the blind men of yore! Because while each does in fact have a firm grasp upon a singular part of that which is "trans" in their fetid little hands, and so, are quite correct in describing it,... Each an every one of them when extrapolated upon the whole wind up so far off the mark as to be totally, utterly, and completely wrong!

That said, Miz Know It All is sad to say that once this very worthwhile task is done. Miz Know It All shall be taking her final leave of Blog-O-Stan and it's inhabitants for good. As she has said before, she has a very rich and full life out in the real world that is actually stunted by her time here! One that is at best only slightly and even then only tangentially connected to her past and the world of victimized chest beating which is Blog-O-Stan.. Besides! Shes quite certain, and of this you will agree, she has been mightily encouraged, invited and even cajoled perhaps one time too many to take her Ol' hater, privileged elitist ass and just butt the hell out of all things trans where it is very very clear she is not wanted!

So... who is she to disappoint her dear dear readers! Her wish, as always, is your command!

Most sincerely, truly and finally yours
MKIA