“Words don’t mean; people mean.” – commonly attributed to S.I. Hayakawa
In the Indian adage about a group of blind people feeling different parts of an elephant, each of them gives a very different account of what they learn: the one feeling the trunk says that an elephant is like a branch, the one feeling the tail says an elephant is like a rope, and so forth. It’s a parable about subjectivity and the limits of perception. What this story does not tell you is that all of the elephant-feelers immediately fall insensible to the floor, paralysed by a new appreciation of the sucking abyss that surrounds the elephant for light years in every direction.