Concealed knowledge and the experience of epiphany

Fabb, N. (Invited speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk


Abstract of talk: Epiphanies involve a sense of knowing something important but just out of reach, not fully understandable, or expressible in words: I call this 'concealed knowledge'. Epiphanies also involve a brief, sudden and intense emotion, often an emotion which involves tears or chills, but is pleasurable. I suggest that each of these two components of epiphany can cause the other, potentially sustaining the epiphany in a loop. In this talk, I explain what I mean by 'concealed knowedge', which I divide into two broadly defined kinds, and show how certain standard kinds of literary, aesthetic and cultural form produce this knowledge. One kind involves a range of kinds of similarity between two elements, where the relation of similarity between them is obscured or difficult; this includes metaphor and parallelism, part-to-whole relations, and faulty concepts. The other kind involves expectation, something which will be known but is not yet known; this includes manipulations of time and pace, liminality and passage, and endings. I conclude by arguing that an epiphany begins with a metacognitive judgement of concealed knowledge, which triggers an emotional response. The emotional reponse includes arousals such as chillls or tears which however are positively valenced. This is discussed by viewing the whole epiphanic experience in the light of theories of anomalously valenced emotion in aesthetics.
Period8 Mar 2017
Held atUniversity of Derby, United Kingdom