May 7, 2010


At the age of 70, I’ve begun to think that it’s time to think about origin myths. At first this seemed like it was going to be an exercise in religious study, but gradually I began to believe that origin myths are for us more secularly oriented persons.

I like these three contemporary myths from which spring distinctly different “innate truths” and therefore different “origin” myths. These three have emerged during my lifetime.

Myth 1: The myth of unlimited prosperity. After WWII we all got behind this one and even invented something called a consumer economy. Oh dear.

Myth 2: The myth of unlimited freedom. In which many of us decided that we were completely free from responsibility. Oh my.

Myth3: The myth of unlimited possibility (or choice) out of which the age of the Internet has emerged. Oh crap.

But before then, in the nineteenth century, we had the Myth of unlimited space which provided us with Tom Mix and Gene Autry, and other mythic figures along with prefab deer blinds and designer pickup trucks. After that we had the Myth of unlimited power in which Democracy was supposed to expand through the League of Nations and create an earthly paradise. Hello, the Great Depression.

Of course, there is something religious about the associated origin myths. They are extremely hard to criticize. Whenever the innate truth is quoted, one has an absolute origin. As a post quantum mechanical physicist, I always wondered about the semi religious fervor of the next decimal place which ran rampant through the early twentieth century. If only they could have wielded the sword of the microprocessor!

Now, when fuzzy logic if firmly entrenched and the mass particle is almost within the grasp of the new accelerator in Switzerland, we have the emergence of yet a new origin myth. This one’s been coming a long time. The Myth of Absolute Certainty which is supposed to wipe  our collective bottoms and deliver us back to a simpler time when we knew the separate roles of God and man. Help! This one is going to lead us to the abyss and then urge us to jump over the edge into utter darkness.

I’m going to mount speakers on a big truck. Help stamp out Certainty. Uncertainty is OKAY.  We CAN’T know everything. Stop trying to put a number to everything. Stop rating compassion like it was priced at the Supermarket. Tomorrow’s truth will be different…now that’s a kind of certainty that supports reality. Better examin your favorite origin myth.

Think about this analogies. Innate is to origin as pattern is to template.

About charles frenzel

I've been writing all my life. I've also painted, composed, sculpted, contributed to molecular research, advanced some mathematical concepts, lived on a sailboat, and worked for a Nobel Prize winner. Nothing in my life has pleased me more than to share my life with my wife and friend of over forty years.

View all posts by charles frenzel

3 Responses to “Origins”

  1. resveratrol Says:

    I usually agree with the posts on this blog, but in this case I ought to say that I do not agree with this.

  2. Valerie Dickison Says:

    On the subject of stamping out certainty, I reflect on my Mother’s comments. When I visited her I generally complained that her kitchen counters were not sanitary enough. I grabbed the spray bottle of Lysol and a clean rag. “Oh leave it alone, dear. A few germs are good for you. Come sit and have a cup of tea. Let’s visit.” I think my Mother was right. She was a product of the Depression Era, had seen many wars and had lost three husbands. About the only things that are for certain are death, taxes and germs.


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