Sunday, May 25, 2008

Being Among Black Swans

In a recent post, "READ IT! DAMN IT," Tom Peters urges us to purchase the book, The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. It arrived on my doorstep yesterday and I am LOVING it! One thing that struck me immediately in the prologue is that when the author speaks of the sightings of black swans he indicates that many have sent him pictures since the book, indicating that they are "quite ugly." Something struck me profoundly about this statement.

Purity, beauty, elegance and others such words associated with whiteness and by extension the color of swans are perhaps colored by by the assualt on consciousness of what whiteness entails. Such distinction such as "white swans" was never even a part of my consciousness, nor have I ever read of it in any books. SWANS ARE WHITE! Can anybody say SWAN LAKE!

Can you picture all the beauty of Tchaikovsky's music and the whiteness of the set, costumes, and ballerinas. Now imagine blackness on the same set being performed to the same music. Weird, eh? But to whom? Blackness is without doubt associated with darkness, ominous things, evil and other such words are in reverse associated in our consciousness. I can clearly see how such descriptives as "quite ugly" could be readily associated with black swans, although I'm sure their elegance and grace on the water is no different.

We may have all in the West have had the same reaction of the first sighting of black swans. Collective cultural consciousness is no joke, nor is our narrow understanding of the possible and our inability to see beyond what our physical eyes can see. Such matters need addressing (this book seems to be so relevant in this regard), for our world is indeed flatter than ever and our dependence on one another seems to be greater still.

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