The reconsidered elephant

Five blind men blunder into a zoo, and meet a Keeper.

“Oh, pray go see the elephant”, the Keeper suggests, “it is a wondrous animal.”

So they go, being elephant-fanciers; and eventually, one of them bumps into a warm wall of flesh, and calls to the others: “Elephant! Come feel it! It’s like a big wall of living, warm asphalt!”

Shortly after, another calls out: “It’s not like a wall — it’s like a sail! Big floppy leathery sailcloth!”

Then a third cries, “No no — it’s a point, a bony, cruel rending tooth-horn thing! I bet it could gore just anything alive! The elephant is a killer!”

“Nonsense!” the first cries. “That is an illegitimate interpretation of the elephant, which is a creature of boundless compassion and love. Shut up!”

“Er”, a fourth pipes up. “I think the elephant is a bit like a wall or a doorway, but, uh… there’s a hole in the wall and it’s dropping shit on me.”

“No!” the first one cries. “The elephant is a creature of beauty and grace! It embodies the deepest, subtlest desires of the human race — it’s not something that shits on people!”

At which point there’s a great big moving sound and a thump, and the fifth man gasps: “I think… I think the elephant is like a great big fucking thing that’s standing on my chest. I’m in some unbearable pain actually.”

The first one yells out in outrage: “That is an illegitimate interpretation of the elephant! Stop it at once! The elephant is equally a wall, a sail, a rope, a snake—”

“Great”, the fourth mutters, “now it’s pissing on me.”

“Could you get the Keeper?” the fifth inquires from under a heavy pachydermian foot.

“As if!” the first blind man screams. “As if she had better insights than we! What is she supposed to be, some elephant doctor? All true study of the elephant is based on admitting the elephant is unknowable, so I deeply resent your allegation of her expertise! I—”

Upon which point the Keeper clobbered him with a bucket, and escorted the five out.

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