From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Society and culture
In literature and the arts
In Greek myth, Tiresias was a prophet famous for his clairvoyance. According to one myth, he was blinded by the Gods as punishment for revealing their secrets, while another holds that he was blinded as punishment after he saw Athena naked while she was bathing. In the Odyssey, the one-eyed Cyclops Polyphemus captures Odysseus, who blinds Polyphemus in order to escape. In Norse mythology, Loki tricks the blind God Höðr into killing his brother Baldr, the God of happiness.
The Bible contains numerous instances of Jesus performing miracles to heal the blind. According to the Gospels, Jesus healed the two blind men of Galilee, the blind man of Bethsaida, the blind man of Jericho and the man who was born blind.
The parable of the blind men and an elephant has crossed between many religious traditions and is part of Jain, Buddhist, Sufi and Hindu lore. In various versions of the tale, a group of blind men (or men in the dark) touch an elephant to learn what it is like. Each one feels a different part, but only one part, such as the side or the tusk. They then compare notes and learn that they are in complete disagreement.
Slaver-turned-abolitionist John Newton composed the hymn Amazing Grace about a wretch who "once was lost, but now am found, Was blind, but now I see." Blindness, in this sense, is used both metaphorically (to refer to someone who was ignorant but later became knowledgeable) and literally, as a reference to those healed in the Bible. In the later years of his life, Newton himself would go blind.
"Three Blind Mice" is a medieval English nursery rhyme about three blind mice whose tails are cut off after chasing the farmer's wife. The work is explicitly incongruous, ending with the comment Did you ever see such a sight in your life, As three blind mice?
Bob Dylan's anti-war song "Blowin' in the Wind" twice alludes to metaphorical blindness: How many times can a man turn his head // and pretend that he just doesn't see... How many times must a man look up // Before he can see the sky?
Contemporary fiction contains numerous well-known blind characters. Some of these characters can "see" by means of fictitious devices, such as the Marvel comic superhero Daredevil, who can "see" via his super-human hearing acuity, or Star Trek's Geordi La Forge, who can see with the aid of a VISOR, a fictitious device that transmits optical signals to his brain.
The word "blind" (adjective and verb) is often used to signify a lack of knowledge of something. For example, a blind date is a date in which the people involved have not previously met; a blind experiment is one in which information is kept from either the experimenter or the participant in order to mitigate the placebo effect or observer bias. The expression "blind leading the blind" refers to incapable people leading other incapable people. Being blind to something means not understanding or being aware of it. A "blind spot" is an area where someone cannot see, for example, where a car driver cannot see because parts of his car's bodywork are in the way.
- Blind man's bluff (game)
- Blind date
- The Blind Leading the Blind
- Schopenhauer's strong blind man
- Love is blind
- Blind faith