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Friday, June 26, 2015

The Pulse In His Ears Ran Into The Rhythm Of “In The Country Of The Blind The One-Eyed Man is King.”

In 1904 H.G. Wells penned “The Country of the Blind”  which tells the tale of a mountaineer named Nunez who falls off a mountain side and finds himself in the Country Of The Blind, a mountain valley cut off from the world in the 'wildest wastes of Ecuador's Andes'. Nunez was escorting a party of Englishmen up the greatest precipice of a mountain when he fell off the rock shelf during the night. In the morning he discovers he's landed in the valley of the the blind relatively unscathed. The story was first relayed to me by a customer who purchased a pair of patina chelsea boots from us. In the course of our conversation he asked me who else could make shoe patina and I said very few in Australia. We talked about bow ties as well. Again, I said very few made them in Australia too and I added "Oh, well, the good thing is that in the land of the blind the one eyed man is king" to which he corrected me "no, it's the country of the blind" and he pointed me to the H.G Wells short story. 

Given the ending of this short story I am inclined to refrain from using the expression in the future. It carries such a different connotation once you've read The Country Of The Blind. Now the expression serves to remind me that we often don't bend the world to our whim but rather we are bent by the whim of the world. We can try as hard as we can to convince others of what we see but if people choose to be ignorant then there is not a thing we can do about it. In the end, Nunez capitulates to the the villagers. And this is the passage where he gives in.

“I was mad,” he said. “But I was only newly made.”
They said that was better.
He told them he was wiser now, and repented of all he had done.
Then he wept without intention, for he was very weak and ill now, and they took that as a favourable
sign.
They asked him if he still thought he could SEE.”
“No,” he said. “That was folly. The word means nothing. Less than nothing!”
They asked him what was overhead.
“About ten times ten the height of a man there is a roof above the world--of rock--and very, very
smooth. So smooth--so beautifully smooth."
He burst again into hysterical tears. Before you ask me any more, give me some food or I shall die!”
He expected dire punishments, but these blind people were capable of toleration. They regarded his
rebellion as but one more proof of his general idiocy and inferiority, and after they had whipped him they appointed him to do the simplest and heaviest work they had for anyone to do, and he, seeing no other way of living, did submissively what he was told. He was ill for some days and they nursed him
kindly. That refined his submission. But they insisted on his lying in the dark, and that was a great misery. And blind philosophers came and talked to him of the wicked levity of his mind, and reproved him so impressively for his doubts about the lid of rock that covered their cosmic casserole that he almost doubted whether indeed he was not the victim of hallucination in not seeing it overhead.

So Nunez became a citizen of the Country of the Blind.

So, you have turned me into Nunez and here are some pre-tied bow ties for 2015.

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