Anagnorisis: or the journey from ignorance to knowledge. Peripetia: the moment, in Greek tragedy - an awful one - of realization of a life-changing truth. I don't think in today's world that peripetia need be tragic or horrible at all. It can be wonderful, transformative, life-changing.
For Dirty Jobs' Mike Rowe, this moment came with two lamb testicles hanging on his chin.
So I just realized Mike Rowe, whom I think is about the best thing since sliced bread, is a whole week younger than me.
I used to say we were the "Rehab Generation." Now I think - we're the anagnorisis and peripetia generation. We are the ones who are coming to realize, all across the world, that so many things we were taught growing up are untrue. The list is nearly endless. This journey of knowledge and enlightment is exploding all over the world.
Mike Rowe's incredible TED talk tells the story of how, after many Dirty Jobs shows, he went to a sheep ranch in the Rockies. There, with the sheep rancher and his wife, his job was to remove the tails and castrate about a hundred lambs. This, on the farm, involved cutting the tail off with a sharp knife and biting off the lamb's testicles. With the mouth. Teeth. Then spitting them into a bucket. Mike seems to have held his first pair on his chin for a bit, however.
In charming Mike Rowe fashion, he describes how he did his research in advance of going to the ranch. The Humane Society recommended this procedure be done with the aid of two rubber bands. Put tightly around the tail and scrotum, the parts would fall off after about a week. This procedure, the Humane Society said, was preferable to the alternatives.
In this case, the quick removal of the tail with the knife, and quick biting of the testicles and removal.
Mike described the two different results. The rancher went ahead and put rubber bands around the tail and scrotum of a lamb to satisfy Mike's request. The lamb staggered off, falling down several times. It was in obvious pain -- pain that would last for a week of misery.
The lamb done the supposedly "inhumane" way was running around happy and content in moments.
I feel almost like, after centuries of maltreatment and cruelty being the norm for humanity, of people investing the majority of their short lives on this planet in either telling others what to do or telling themselves they were better than others, we moved into a 20th century that became all about bureaucracy and nothing about real work. And the bulls*** continued. Nearly all problems arose and continue to arise because of a peculiar human blindness and self-centered-ness.
You know those people who always "Have to be right?"
I think that particular human trait is what has fed all of our negative social and business structures since time began. It's not "leaders" having to be right. They are typically enlightened and know they're not always right. It's followers. It's the steady, certain ones laboring under blinders for their entire lifetimes.
But then people suddenly wake up and open their eyes.
So, anagnorisis - the journey from ignorance to knowledge. That begins with realizing "I don't know." Then you do things. Then you know.
So right now, I know some things. And the journey of the rest of my life is to continue to learn the things I can, in the areas that I do not know. And since I do know that it's a bad idea to put rubber bands around the little lamb's tail and testicles - I'll definitely spread that information around.
Legacy publishing is just about the worst way imaginable to support people writing to the best of their ability. As a result, readers aren't getting the best books. The best art is not being produced. When it happens, it's a stone cold accident.
It's like the 1900s, when people who were born with severe disabilities, such as Helen Keller, were thought to be unable to even think - perhaps were not even people at all. It was "known" at the time that people couldn't grow or change. They were what they were born to be. It's like the early 20th century, when 12 year old Percy Julian could go out berry-picking on his grandfather's farm in Alabama and come across a young black man hanging dead from a tree. And nothing too much happened, I'm quite sure! And the man who invented cortisone and birth control pills was meant to never go past the 8th grade in school. Because it was "known" that black people couldn't do science.
So we have a choice now. Do we want the "special" writers and artists club, like the white, wealthy chemists who didn't want to accept their extraordinarily gifted colleague, a young man with a background so vastly different from their own, the gap could hardly be bridged?
Or do you want an actual industry? A new renaissance?
Or back to the monastery, with the monks and the slaves. Maybe master will pay us some attention, and throw a coin. As seen in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail."