But as the work proceeded I was continually reminded of the fable about the elephant and the tortoise. Having constructed an elephant upon which the mathematical world could rest, I found the elephant tottering, and proceeded to construct a tortoise to keep the elephant from falling. But the tortoise was not more secure than the elephant, and after some twenty years of very arduous toil, I came to the conclusion that there was nothing more that I could do in the way of making mathematical knowledge indubitable.
This is what metaphor is. It is not saying that an ant is an elephant. Perhaps; both are alive. No. Metaphor is saying the ant is an elephant. Now, logically speaking, I know there is a difference. If you put elephants and ants before me, I believe that every time I will correctly identify the elephant and the ant. So metaphor must come from a very different place than that of the logical, intelligent mind. It comes from a place that is very courageous, willing to step out of our preconceived ways of seeing things and open so large that it can see the oneness in an ant and in an elephant.
The mind is divided, like a rider on an elephant, and the rider's job is to serve the elephant. The rider is our conscious reasoning-the stream of words and images of which we are fully aware. The elephant is the other 99 percent of mental processes-the ones that occur outside of awareness but that actually govern most of our behavior.
To keep a man a slave you do much the same as the cruel circus masters did to the elephant around the turn of last century. Clamp heavy chains around their legs and stake them to the ground. Then beat and terrorize them. After a while you no longer even have to stake the chain; the elephant gives up and just the mere rattle of the chain convinces the elephant there is no hope, so they give up and do whatever it is the circus requires.
Suppose you came across a woman lying on the street with an elephant sitting on her chest. You notice she is short of breath. Shortness of breath can be a symptom of heart problems. In her case, the much more likely cause is the elephant on her chest. For a long time, society put obstacles in the way of women who wanted to enter the sciences. That is the elephant. Until the playing field has veen leveled and lingering stereotypes are gone, you can't even ask the question.
I hate those people who say you always find the one when you stop looking for her. It is the advice you least want to hear when what you think you need most is someone to love. At best, it comes off like being asked to not think of a white elephant. The elephant becomes the only thing you can think of.
Many more villagers, who have seen an elephant for the first time in their lives, give absurd exaggerations regarding his size, weight, and height. One of them describes him as 'a fundament!'. Another, elaborating, alludes to the term 'firmament, ' because of the elephant's hugeness. He felt as though the sky was obliterated from his vision. The last to be interviewed by the local TV station swears that he sensed the world lean forward as the elephant came closer and tilt backwards as the beast walked away. This large mammal ambles purposefully. He pays no heed to the crowded silence following him in stealthy consciousness. One of the villagers, a woman often suspected of dabbling in witchcraft, talks of her inspired theory: that this was no elephant, more like a human on a holy mission of avenging justice. Two other witnesses, neither having had any contact with the woman, speak in substantiation of the woman's claims, giving as evidence the observation that the elephant turned around when someone said something in Somali. Several villagers will not comment, afraid of a fitting retribution should they do so.
There'a a phrase, "the elephant in the living room", which purports to describe what it's like to live with a drug addict, an alcoholic, an abuser. People outside such relationships will sometimes ask, "How could you let such a business go on for so many years? Didn't you see the elephant in the living room?" And it's so hard for anyone living in a more normal situation to understand the answer that comes closest to the truth; "I'm sorry, but it was there when I moved in. I didn't know it was an elephant; I thought it was part of the furniture." There comes an aha-moment for some folks - the lucky ones - when they suddenly recognize the difference.
They say an elephant never forgets. Well, you are not an elephant. Take notes, constantly. Save interesting thoughts, quotations, films, technologies... the medium doesn't matter, so long as it inspires you. When you're stumped, go to your notes like a wizard to his spellbook. Mash those thoughts together. Extend them in every direction until they meet.
I suppose if there were a part of the world in which mastodon still lived, somebody would design a new gun, and men, in their eternal impudence, would hunt mastodon as they now hunt elephant. Impudence seems to be the word. At least David and Goliath were of the same species, but, to an elephant, a man can only be a midge with a deathly sting.
Imagine a tiny ant on the back of a massive African elephant. No matter how diligently that ant marches east, if the elephant he sits upon travels in the opposite direction, the ant will end up farther west than his starting point. Similarly, we will find ourselves receding from our goals if our conscious and subconscious minds are not aligned.
Consider how odd it would be if all we knew about elephants had been written by elephants. Would we recognize one? What elephant author would describe-or perhaps even perceive-the features which are common to all elephants? We would find ourselves detecting these from indirect clues; for instance, elephant-naturalists would surely tell us that all other animals suffer from noselessness, which obliges them to use their paws in an unnatural way. [... ]So when the human male describes his world he maps its distances from his unspoken natural center of reference, himself.
Alice B. Sheldon
It wasn't that I hated being asked a bunch of questions. I had nothing against questions. I just didn't like listening to them, because some questions take forever to make sense. Sometimes waiting for a question to finish is like watching someone draw an elephant starting with the tail first. As soon as you see the tail your mind wanders all over the place and you think of a million other animals that also have tails until you don't care about the elephant because it's only one thing when you've been thinking about a million others.
Onyx is angry," Damian says. "Onyx has a right to be angry. You've got to remember, for many elephants, their life is that of a human in a war-torn country. Ravaged homes, killed relatives, separation," Damian says. Here's another thing I've learned over two months--every elephants here has a sad story. Every captive elephant's story is one of loss and separation. Something to remember every time you see happy people getting elephant rides.