6 hours ago
Monday, April 4, 2011
Regarding The Photograph That The Young Woman Did Not Want The Blind Rabbit To See
The young woman refused to describe the photograph, and said repeatedly that she wished she had never mentioned the subject. She said, "If I were to describe the photograph to you, you might have the idea that you have seen the world, but this photograph is not the world. This photograph is not at all what life looks like."
The blind rabbit asked the young woman to describe for him a photograph that depicted what life did look like, a photograph that would look like the world.
The young woman thought about this request and then asked the rabbit to tell her what he imagined when he thought about the world.
"The world is what I smell and what I hear," the rabbit said. The young woman asked if, based on the things he smelled and the things he heard and the words she read to him, he had any notions that might correspond to a visual conception of the world.
"You are asking me if I see?" the rabbit said.
"Yes," the young woman said. "I guess that I am."
"I cannot be certain," the rabbit said. "I know only that I feel things, that the smells and sounds affect me as feelings."
The young woman asked if these feelings could be described in a way she might understand; as happy or sad, for instance. The rabbit said that, yes, he believed this to be true, although he tended to think of what he felt as either "good feelings" or "bad feelings."
"What sounds or smells like a bad feeling?" the young woman asked.
"Noise that I do not understand is a bad feeling," the rabbit said. "Or smells that ask unfamiliar questions."
"Well," the young woman said. "The photograph in question is most certainly a bad feeling. The questions it asks are not necessarily unfamiliar, but they have no answers."
"And that is not the world?" the rabbit said.
"It is not what life looks like," the young woman said. She asked the blind rabbit what good feelings smelled and sounded like.
The blind rabbit sniffed the air and pondered for a moment. "Like the good day," he said. "Like the things that give me pleasure and that I can trust and depend on. The warm and soft things, the tenderness underfoot and the tender things that come to me as smells and sounds and caresses of one sort or another. The things from which I need not run or hide. The sound of your voice reading Don Quixote. The music of your amusement, which I do not understand but which is nonetheless like a sound from the trees on a morning when all the sounds and smells are bright and there is promise afoot in the world."
"That is what a photograph of life would look like," the young woman said. "You would take such a photograph, and keep it forever, because it captured something in the world that you wished to always remember."
The blind rabbit paused again, and then said, "I'm not so sure about that. Surely without some permanent evidence or memories of the bad feelings I would unwittingly find myself in situations of great peril. I must respectfully argue that the photograph of which you refuse to speak serves some purpose in the world, and therefore depicts in some way the world whose purpose it serves."
"Surely no one needs a photograph to remind them of the existence of ugliness and evil," the young woman said.
The rabbit shrugged. He did not wish to argue with the young woman. "Perhaps you are right," he said. "But I feel I must point out that you are neither blind, nor a rabbit. And I am quite certain that I would not long survive without all of the photographs."