The Hundredth Monkeyby Ken Keyes, Jr.
The Japanese monkey, Macaca fuscata, had been observed in the wild for a period of over 30 years.
In 1952, on the island of Koshima, scientists were providing monkeys with sweet potatoes dropped in the sand. The monkeys liked the taste of the raw sweet potatoes, but they found the dirt unpleasant.
An 18-month-old female named Imo found she could solve the problem by washing the potatoes in a nearby stream. She taught this trick to her mother. Her playmates also learned this new way and they taught their mothers too.
This cultural innovation was gradually picked up by various monkeys before the eyes of the scientists.
Between 1952 and 1958 all the young monkeys learned to wash the sandy sweet potatoes to make them more palatable.
Only the adults who imitated their children learned this social improvement. Other adults kept eating the dirty sweet potatoes.
Then something startling took place. In the autumn of 1958, a certain number of Koshima monkeys were washing sweet potatoes -- the exact number is not known.
Let us suppose that when the sun rose one morning there were 99 monkeys on Koshima Island who had learned to wash their sweet potatoes.
Let's further suppose that later that morning, the hundredth monkey learned to wash potatoes.
THEN IT HAPPENED!
By that evening almost everyone in the tribe was washing sweet potatoes before eating them.
The added energy of this hundredth monkey somehow created an ideological breakthrough!
A most surprising thing observed by these scientists was that the habit of washing sweet potatoes then jumped over the sea --
Colonies of monkeys on other islands and the mainland troop of monkeys at Takasakiyama began washing their sweet potatoes.
Thus, when a certain critical number achieves an awareness, this new awareness may be communicated from mind to mind.
Although the exact number may vary, this Hundredth Monkey Phenomenon means that when only a limited number of people know of a new way, it may remain the conscious property of these people.
But there is a point at which if only one more person tunes-in to a new awareness, a field is strengthened so that this awareness is picked up by almost everyone!
(from the book "The Hundredth Monkey" by Ken Keyes, Jr. The book is not copyrighted and the material may be reproduced in whole or in part. You can look at the whole book also.)Isn't that neat? (It may not be totally true, but it does represent a society wide paradigm shift, and that's awesome, too.)
"So, how does this relate to you, Chloe, but more importantly, how does it relate to knitting? And why do you look like Sporty Spice in that picture?" you continue to query.
I like to think I'm a creative individual, that I can come up with cool concepts and novel ideas on a whim. But deep in my heart, I know that there is nothing new under the sun. Anything I can invent, 99 monkeys before me have invented.
For example, my incident with the one skein wonder, a pattern published by Glampyre Knits. I thought myself very clever when I decided to knit a raglan shrug from the top down, making up my pattern as I went along. I spotted one of my co-workers knitting something very similar to what I was knitting and asked, "Hey Rebecca, what's that?" She proceeded to show me the pattern for the one skein wonder, which was almost exactly what I was making up. I showed her my work and cemented my fate as the Hundredth Monkey.
This doesn't not make me bitter, nor angry. In fact, I find it quite delightful. It's Zeitgeist; I'm tapped into the collective unconscious, baby. It's a nice reminder of the wonders of knitting, the ideas we can share, and the beauty we can create.