Last night Natalie Portman took home the Oscar for her performance in The Black Swan. The excitement around this film has been building since it hit the screens to great critical acclaim and then won the Golden Globe and Independent Spirit Awards for Portman. I haven't seen The Black Swan yet but the buzz has been hard to escape. As with any phenomenon that captures headlines and imaginations, recognizable archetypes emerge. Even in the worst of pop culture, there are insights into the collective psyche and shared vision.
Several years before the Portman vehicle began making the news, a bestselling book by the same name created a different sort of buzz. Nassim Nicholas Taleb makes the convincing argument that events that create the greatest impact are unexpected and unpredictable based on past patterns. He uses the black swan as a metaphor for these unexpected events. Before the discovery and colonization of Australia, the black swan was a metaphor for something non-existent and, therefore, inconceivable. It was common knowledge throughout Europe and its colonies that all swans were white. But in 1697 the great birds were discovered by Willem de Vlaming's expedition along Australia's Swan River. With the discovery, a fundamental assumption about the world collapsed and a colloquialism was turned on its head.
So the black swan emerges as an archetype for radical shifts that fly in the face of our assumptions about our reality and have the greatest potential to create change in the world. And, it is against the backdrop of a rapidly changing world that Natalie Portman has been picking up her awards and accolades. Which, of course, brings me back to the Time Monks tipping point prediction.