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Serendipity is finding something unexpected and useful while searching for something else entirely. For instance, the discovery of the antibacterial properties of penicillin by Alexander Fleming is said to have been serendipitous, because he was merely cleaning up his laboratory when he discovered that the Penicillium mould had contaminated one of his old experiments. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serendipity [Sept 2005]
An epiphany is the (often numinous) shift into a state of new perception, a kind of mental rebirth, the so-called "Eureka!" or "Aha!" moment (eureka meaning, incidentally,"I have found it") described by Colin Wilson as "absurd good news".
The word's secular usage may owe some of its popularity to James Joyce, who expounded on its meaning in the fragment Stephen Hero and the novel Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916).
In traditional and pre-modern cultures, and up until this day, initiation rites and mystery religions have served as vehicles of epiphany, as well as the arts. The Greek dramatists and poets, would, in the ideal, induct the audience into states of catharsis or kenosis, respectively. In modern times the Surrealist Marcel Duchamp and the Pop Artist Andy Warhol would invert expectations by presenting commonplace objects or graphics as works of fine art, simply by presenting them in a way no one had thought to do before. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epiphany_%28feeling%29 [Apr 2006]
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