The Elephant in the Room of the Blind

I will now cross the parable of blind men and an elephant with the metaphor of the elephant in the room. Hopefully this pachydermic patchwork helps clarify our thinking and our discussion of the present plight of the West.

Think of the western civilization as a very big room, with lots of furniture and household equipment set up such that it is a livable home for a community of blind people – us. There’s also an elephant in the room: the subtle and complicated web of causal factors that results in what many of us see as the decline of the West. We can’t see the elephant, but if we happen upon it we may touch it and describe what we feel. We can also hear its movement at times and observe the effects, such as broken furniture.

I’ll call the elephant of my analogy “the Elephant” to distinguish it from partial descriptions such as Moldbug’s Cathedral. I don’t think anyone has managed to describe the thing in its entirety; it may well be impossible.

The Elephant seems to have grown larger and more ill-tempered over time. As its tramplings grow more frequent and more damaging, more people notice – even if many prefer to not talk about it. If it was smaller and more docile in the past, perhaps it was even doing useful work. Can it be tamed again? Should it be?

Our blindness hinders our efforts to understand the Elephant. Some people grasp the wreckage it leaves and blame shoddy construction or vandals. Others bump into each other in the confusion and come to blows. Even those of us who realize we’re dealing with an elephant disagree on its nature as none of us have seen one. To complicate matters further, we have a cult that cheers the Elephant on and insists we will only be truly free once our room has been destroyed. Apparently they don’t believe in weather.

How to deal with the Elephant then? First, we must understand its nature. A tame animal that escaped its harness is best recaptured and put back to work; a feral one must be put down. Second, we must understand its anatomy. We must know which end the harness goes to if we want to capture it. If it is to be put down, we need to aim well: mistaking an extremity for a vital part will only serve to wound it and make things worse.

Pay attention to different descriptions of the Elephant. Some are mistaken but many capture different true aspects of it. We must piece them together to improve our understanding.

Here is another, odder, suggestion: develop your spiritual sight. Honed intuition lets you grasp more than reason alone. Follow the spiritual practice of your religion or take up meditation. For this at least, the specifics of your path matter less than that you walk it.

This entry was posted in Metaphor. Bookmark the permalink.