Thursday, April 04, 2013

The professor, the blind men and the elephant

One of the introductory writing courses has an assignment to interview faculty in fields they might major in about their scholarly writing process.  I did three of these interviews in the last week; as I did the third I realized that it was rather like the Buddhist parable of the blind men and the elephant.  Each touched a part and extrapolated to the whole.

My interviewers each left having explored one or two facets of who I was as a writer and how I worked, but none have quite the whole of it as the starting point was my scholarly writing on my research in quantum mechanics (a particularly arcane example thereof is here).

One student did ask me if I ever wrote about anything besides chemistry.  Yes, I assured her, I did.  But she didn't ask me anything else about it.

"Blind monks examining an elephant" by Itcho Hanabusa, photograph of woodcut from the Library of Congress.


  1. I wonder how often I am that close to an elephant without actually noticing it.

    1. That is an excellent question, and one I should ask myself more!