I would now like to explore the completely fallacious notion that all things must have an origin. I mean it only stands to reason; but that is precisely the problem with it. Back up, give me some space here to do some explaining, before you object. Sorry I have to be the disciplinarian around here. What I would like to do today, class, is consider the assumption that the universe has an origin–and!, as an extension of that, what shall we call it, discovery (out of school), we will tackle the question of whether anything has an origin. Like, offhand, photography, that’s one of my favorites; photography has no origin. It is all a discovery, like my face in the shiny surface of the spatula. That is the everyday origin, captured reflection, happening every minute with all these gleaming surfaces around here. How about streetlamps? When did these all these minor moons come along? And, let’s see, automobiles–they were created out of scrap metal and thin air, no question about that. A pure result of manic ambition, a slavish workforce, and look at the result! Highways everywhere. The only thing I can think of that I once satisfactorily traced to an actual origin is, you guessed it, steamboats! And that is because we did a class project in third grade on Robert Fulton. Who, however, according to a new biography, was perhaps not in fact the original originator of the steamboat. Turns out origins, when looked into further, are always problematic. Tomorrow we will deal with the universe, as that is one thing bound to still be here, tomorrow. Class dismissed.
Good morning! The topic was on the origin of the universe. Is that not a colossal joke! The reason no one can answer the question of the origins of anything, is that they start with the assumption that everything, the whole universe, for God’s sake!, actually has an origin. It’s an epidemic. People around here have an insatiable appetite for philosophy. I can hardly say the word philosophy without getting hives. I want to say, what people should do is ask what the origin of the question of origins itself is. Back up. And then walk forward slowly. They should back up and ask themselves, why do I not just make the coffee, instead of wondering where Starbucks gets its coffee? The first step, when you find yourself wondering what the origin of something is, is to sit down in the ruins (the kitchen), and wonder how you got to be plagued by this irrelevant analytical intelligence. The first step is to ask, why do I suppose this has an origin? The water is boiling, and there is only a certain amount of time to think. Aren’t you happy?
Astonishingly, asking for origins, if you want to be honest about it, people (and I am sorry to be addressing you in this tone) turns out to be a habit. A local habit, it’s like a board game you insist on playing. And that is why this discussion feels like. . . school! But it’s worse, you got it worse. It is not just carried over from school. The fact is this question is plaguing the mind from the beginning of consciousness. It is a kind of preference; it is the kind of world one thinks they would like to live in, one that has causes, origins, outright meaning. Damn it! Happy as we are. Maps, schedules, and streetsigns. This satisfies the intellect, to be surrounded by things that can be theoretically traced to their origins. It is a natural thought at its origin, that spawns a system of thought. Hot chocolate, what is the origin of hot chocolate? Or railroads? Or sugar, or transportation? How about the origin of the solar system? And once you got that, the origin of Venus? Don’t read: Immanuel Velikovsky’s Worlds in Collision. Of course if we can say the whole universe has one big origin, that sort of takes care of everything in one shot. And sets up the game in general. People actually come to assume that all things have an origin.
However, if we start small, like in the kitchen, and start picking up utensils, like a spatula, and hold it under the fluorescent light (what is that kind of light?) and ask, “what is the origin of this spatula, yes, I do wonder who invented this handy spatula!”, then we have a nettle. It is too complex. Better to ask the origin of a bar of soap, that is more elemental. Ashes. Interesting! What is the origin of Silicon Valley? I’ll leave the questionnaire by the door, pick one up as you leave. Class dismissed.
Now, to make an omelet. Proceed with awareness that it is only an omelet. What always happens to me, is that I forget to locate the spatula before the omelet is practically ready, and then I have to race around opening all the drawers that contain the utensils. If we realise that we are victims (happy as we are) of habits of mind, then we will want to cast wider nets, include more of the context of each subject that we gaily treat. We will be forced to ask for the origins of a set of things and the things in a set will include, at the very least, the opposite of the original subject. This we did learn in Logic 101! Withdraw the idea that the subject itself has an origin, and put the idea of origins where it belongs, in your own head, then the subject becomes apparent as ill-defined, artificially chosen. This is what happens, sliding into confusion. Admitting that the idea of origins is not a given feature of anything, much less the assumed totality of the world, will cause us to relax our focus. Rearrange our categories. At this point you will notice all the decor, and that the kitchen (so to speak) may need . . . remodelling.