'Letter on the Blind, For Use of Those Who See'

I went to the Institute for Contemporary Art yesterday with my mom. Shepard Fairey's exhibit comes down tomorrow. I used to want to see it, then I heard him talk on NPR a few times and decided he was a bit of a tool, and a kind of moron. A vacuous sort of celebquasiartist whose allegedly anti-commercialism "Obey" message rings flat when you hear him discuss his work in commercialism, like for Macy's Department Store...But that's neither here nor there. What I came here to tell you about is the film "Letter on the Blind, For Use of Those Who See" by Javier Tellez.

The film is based on the old Indian parable "Six Blind Men and an Elephant". In the parable, six blind men feel a part of the elephant. None can tell what it is they're touching because they don't feel the whole thing.

Tellez's film features six blind people, each individually approaching and touching an elephant. The different responses and reactions tell a lot about human nature in general, possible dispositions in people. One man is excited like a child and recite Horton Hatches and Egg as he goes round the elephant, touching her skin. Another just taps and doesn't stay long. Another touches but ultimately dislikes the experience. And then there's one part that just MOVED me, and, from what I can tell of the reviews, moved a lot of people. I think I've admitted here that I cry easily but that doesn't always mean that I'm deeply moved. (It just means I'm a sentimental sap in so many ways...) But this film, and especially this one part, which I can't describe well enough to honor its poignancy, so you'll just have to track it down and view it yourself, truly moved me.

Links to reviews, interview with Tellez & the ICA home:
http://www.boston.com/ae/theater_arts/articles/2009/03/27/hands_on_experiments/?page=1
http://whitney.org/www/2008biennial/www/?section=artists&page=artist_tellez
http://creativetime.org/programs/archive/2007/performance/tellez_interview.html
http://thephoenix.com/Boston/Arts/79501-Video-verite/
http://www.icaboston.org/exhibitions/exhibit/acting-out/


Side, but related, note: I actually made reference to the Six Blind Men and an Elephant parable in another post, as part of the close reading project. My fear was that, in looking closely as all the parts of a poem, I would lose sight of the thing as a whole. The sum is great than the parts in the case of poetry, so I went on to incorporate that as part of a poem by including the "exterior" as part of a poem.

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