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Author page: Harmon Siegel

As the parable migrated from art criticism to the wider world, its purpose changed. Initially, it was used to understand artistic style, especially to shift the register of explanation from manual causes (the way a painter holds his brush, the materials he chooses, etc.) to cognitive ones (the way he sees and understands the world). With repeated retellings, however, cause and effect flipped. Instead of proving that style is subjective, the parable seemed to reveal that subjectivity is stylistic.