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(241) Chez Panisse Café & Restaurant 45th Anniversary:
"A hen is an egg's way of making another egg." - Samuel Butler (1825 - 1902) "Life and Habit" - 1877
During their lives, people acquire and pass on knowledge as though they were an elaborate conduit through which knowledge flows. Knowledge moves from hand to hand, from mouth to mouth, from body to body. It is as though the only truly immortal thing about people is what they learn and what they teach. The ability to play the piano, no matter how many long hours were devoted to it, no matter how brilliantly accomplished the final result, dies with the pianist. But, the teaching and learning of piano playing, speaking French, the intricacies of mathematics, the joys of making things; these do not die.
I spent a pleasant afternoon in the company of Professor Bruce Bradley, a master flint knapper. I held a Neanderthal hand ax. The unnamed, unknown Neanderthal was dead and his entire race was dead, but the tool, and the knowledge of making the tool, lived on. I made a serviceable knife - not an elegant knife by any means, but a knife that would do the job - and when I remarked that this task, which I had never before performed, seemed surprisingly easy, my teacher said: "That's because you already know how to do it. Millions of years of stone tool making have become part of your DNA. You know it, and you were born knowing it, and you can never forget it."
I will guess that not one in a million people now treading this Earth have made a knife out of stone. Nonetheless, we all know how.