Monday, November 13, 2006

Unpredictability and Serendipity

There is a wide-spread view that it's good for life to be planned cos this gives a sense of control. It's scarier (for some) not to have that. But I am more and more aware that these days I more consciously encourage myself to be open to possibilities that unexpectedly present themselves. And to develop the skill of being able to rapidly change direction to take advantage of this unpredictability.

Of course, no-one runs their life just one way or the other.

My last post was going to be about traveling in China, but then I came across The Lips as I was about to start and, well, things got less cerebral. With a rapid direction change, towards the crotch.

And then, associatively, I began to think of serendipity (which of course is not the same thing), and came across the origin of the word in a letter in 1754 from Horace Walpole to a friend living in Florence. He had been reading of a Persian fairy tale set in Serendip, Persian for Sri Laka, in the reign of Bahram V in the C5 AD:

"I once read a silly fairy tale, called 'The Three Princes of Serendip': as their highnesses travelled, they were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things which they were not in quest of: for instance, one of them discovered that a mule blind of the right eye had travelled the same road lately, because the grass was eaten only on the left side, where it was worse than on the right—now do you understand serendipity?

In fact, the tale up to this point is really an example of abductive reasoning, rather than serendipity, which is the gaining of something desirable not sought. In the story, The Three Princes, because of their cleverness, are accused of stealing the camel and are about to be put to death by the King. A traveler steps forward, saying that he has just seen the missing camel wandering about in the desert. Bahram spares the lives of the princes, lavishes them with rich rewards and appoints them as court advisors. These rewards are the unsought (serendipitous) results of their sagacious insights.

And this thought journey is of course great evidence for my initial idea of picking up on things that unexpectedly (and perhaps associatively) present themselves, often jumping off from the previous idea. Rather than evidence for serendipity ... ?

Do you reckon these are 'The Three Princes of Serendip', heartedly wishing each other well before they set out on their now historic journey?

Maybe these are the princes, taking a well-deserved break 'en route' (pun intended):

Or these, celebrating the great success of their Assinine Enterprise by quietly communing with one another in the living room of their elegant Columbo mansion:

Now we (you) have serendipity!


  1. just watched "v for vendetta" last night" and he said something that stuck in my head. he said "there are no coincidences, just the illusion of coincidence". that kind of ties in with serendipity

  2. i know what u mean - but if there are no coincidences, then in a sense this leads down the track to seeing things as being predetermined and gives us no choice/s. which, given the evidence of my own life at least, doesn't seem to be the case. but makes u think tho! hope to be in contact again. nick

  3. The 2 guys with the short hair look like sailors on shore leave and they have hired the long haired guy for a session, anyhow they all have great hard ons.