Monday, September 24, 2012

Had An Epiphany Lately?

According to people who study such things -- (let's stop right there. Do people actually study these things, or do computers just spit out data? That's what I'd like to know.)

Anyhow, according to people who study such things, true epiphanies are very rare. Here's Wikipedia (that font of all knowledge) on the matter:

An epiphany ... is an experience of sudden and striking realization. Generally the term is used to describe breakthrough scientific, religious or philosophical discoveries, but it can apply in any situation in which an enlightening realization allows a problem or situation to be understood from a new and deeper perspective. 

The girls and I have been studying Archimedes's principle. His Eureka! moment is considered a scientific epiphany.

Back to Wikipedia:

Epiphanies are relatively rare occurrences and generally following [sic] a process of significant thought about a problem. Often they are triggered by a new and key piece of information, but importantly, a depth of prior knowledge is required to allow the leap of understanding.

I'm considering the very real possibility that epiphanies are God in disguise. Perhaps when it's time for someone to know something, God makes it happen.

If you're wondering what got me on to this subject, I'll tell you. I was thinking about literary epiphanies, sudden realizations that occur in literature. (Yes, I really was. This is just what I do. Now do you understand why Himself calls me weird?) Wikipedia mentions James Joyce's use of epiphany, and that put me in mind of his short story "Araby." But the one that always comes back to haunt me is the grandmother's epiphany in Flannery O'Connor's short story "A Good Man Is Hard to Find." Have you read that one? Like most of O'Connor's work, it's strange and highly unsettling. But memorable.

So I thought I'd do a bit of research on epiphanies. And I learned something.

I love it when that happens.

1 comment:

  1. I would be sad to think that epiphanies are such a rare event as to be outside the reach of most people. I used the word recently when I told my colleague that while she was on holiday I'd "had an epiphany" and solved a problem we'd both been puzzling over. Now, I know it wasn't an earthshattering discovery that will change the face of science or the arts, but I still felt that it was a kind of gift from beyond me. And I like the idea that ordinary people can have that happen from time to time.

    I will have to look out that short story!


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