Dali's Ocelot

20 June 2007

The Tate Modern currently has an exhibition entitled “Dali and Film” which reminded me of the story of Dali’s ocelot. He took his pet ocelot to a fashionable New York restaurant and tied its lead to a leg of his table prior to ordering. A woman, walking past, stopped and protested at the fact that wild animals were being allowed in. Dali calmly replied that it was only a cat that he’d painted in op-art style. Recognising Dali, the woman became embarrassed and looked closer. “Now I can see it’s a cat,” she said. “At first, I thought it was an ocelot.”

This is an amusing reminder to those of us who have experience in a particular area and are therefore labelled “experts” by those less experienced. We run into trouble when we seek to facilitate the discussion of a problem and inadvertently influence the outcome through the audience’s perception of us.

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