An epiphany is a moment when an individual suddenly realises something important and life-changing. It is an almost mystical experience – you encounter something and this experience changes your entire world-view. This type of experience has been recreated many times in art. The modernists, for instance, sought epiphanic experiences. Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time starts when its protagonist eats a madeleine and he subsequently looks back on his entire life.
Many people shape their political world-view after such an experience. Roger Scruton became a conservative in 1968 when he witnessed radical leftists looting and pillaging the streets of Paris. He was twenty-four at the time, when his politics had been ‘vaguely left-wing.’ These leftist activists wanted to stage a revolution and replace it with something vaguely Marxist. Scruton said at the time: