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Muffy, the Junkyard Dog

David Cowles

Dec 7, 2023

“This is not the used car dealership I was expecting; this is a junkyard! ...But a junkyard is also a salvage yard…”

According to 20th-century British philosopher Alfred North Whitehead, Universe consists entirely of events (aka ‘entities’). Of course, there are other things in the universe besides events, but those things exist only as aspects of events and not as entities in their own right. 

For example, events include sensation, perception, reflection, reaction, emotion, motivation, and intention. Events are extensive; they have duration. They exhibit qualities (qualia): red or green, rough or smooth. Ultimately, they experience satisfaction, a sense of their own completeness. But none of these is an event in its own right, each functions only in its role as an aspect of an event. Like likes ‘like’. Related events glom together, forming the ‘enduring societies’ we know as objects.

Events join together, forming the ‘enduring societies’ we know as objects. Finally, they experience (not necessarily consciously) Satisfaction (s), a sense of their own completeness. But these are all aspects of the events themselves; none of them is an event per se

Every novel event emerges out of the universal, disordered Multiplicity (M) we call ‘the past’. M is constantly growing as new ‘past events’ are added, but since M is totally disordered, there is a sense in which it never changes. It’s always a sort of tabla rasa

Me, I’m stuck in Dodge. I need to get out of town quickly (I always seem to be on the run), but for that, I’ll need a functioning automobile. Wally, the desk clerk at the flea bag where I’m staying suggests I try Hank’s Hulks, just down the road. A cheap used car? Sweet. 

But when I walk onto Hank’s lot, my heart sinks. This is not the used car dealership I was expecting; this is a junkyard! I was worried I’d be taken advantage of by a fast-talking, high-pressure used car salesman (sic). Now I just wish I could find one: “Please, sir, take advantage of me!” Instead, I am face to face with Hank and his ‘fierce but loveable’ dog, Muffy, that he has mercifully chained up. 

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Hank is cheerful but unhelpful: “Feel free to take anything you see! A friend of Wally’s is a friend of mine.” I don’t correct him. At least the price is right, but all I see is an endless succession of carcasses, burnt-out relics of Detroit’s finest. What am I to do with this?

But a junkyard is also a salvage yard! By carefully extracting and arranging parts from these various wrecks (M), I may yet be able to assemble a working automobile. In fact, I may be able to assemble several working automobiles, perhaps even an infinite number, but for now, I just need one car to get me out of Dodge, and there is only one selection and one arrangement of parts that will allow me to build that specific car. 

Assembling that car is an event, and the parts I’ve selected constitute its World (W). Similarly, every novel event begins with the extraction of ‘parts’ from M and the organization of those parts into a unique configuration (W) that allows for the concrescence of that specific event. One Event, one World, one World, one Event.

Life is like a trip to IKEA. When I get home, I have a carefully curated box of parts and a schematic showing me how they should be assembled; that’s W, the World from the perspective of my new bookshelves. And speaking of home, yes, I made it out of Dodge. I appreciate your encouragement…and Hank’s generosity…and, of course, Wally’s ‘friendship’. 

But what about you? It’s Tuesday morning, and after a long, long weekend, you’ve just walked into your company’s bullpen on the 30th floor of the Chrysler Building. Your co-workers are gathered in small groups; the air is humming with buzz from multiple indecipherable conversations. “Something is happening here, but you don’t know what it is…” (Bob Dylan)

But ‘something’ per se is nothing. It’s mere potentiality. It’s chaos in search of order, void in search of content, bedlam in search of meaning. No event begins until M is injected with an ordering logos – the inventory of parts at Hank’s, the collection of pieces from IKEA, or, in this case, a narrative to explain what you’re experiencing. 

Suddenly, the hum breaks down into decipherable conversations, and the way your colleagues are grouped and spaced seems susceptible to a particular story line; you have injected M with an ordering logos

Of course, as you get more data, you may find it expedient to adjust your logos, but the ‘game’ begins when you first impose a tentative order (W) onto the chaos (M). Inverting the Bhagavad-Gita (and Robert Oppenheimer), “Now you have become God, the creator of worlds.” 

And speaking of God, the first 3 verses of the Book of Genesis give a perfect description of M: “In the beginning…the earth was without form or shape, with darkness over the abyss and a mighty wind sweeping over the waters…”

Creation (aka ‘Big Bang’) is an event like any other event, but it is also the locus of every spatiotemporal event in Universe. After M (above), the next 27 verses describe in some detail God’s ordering logos (aka the 6 days of Creation).

Then, “God looked at everything he had made and found it very good. Evening came and morning followed – the sixth day.” (v. 31) Houston, we have ignition; we have our World (W).

The text then jumps directly to the Satisfaction, God’s peace, the Kingdom of Heaven: “Thus the heavens and the earth and all their array were completed. On the seventh day, God completed the work he had been doing; he rested on the seventh day from all the work he had undertaken. God blessed the seventh day and made it holy because on it he rested from all the work he had done in creation.” (Genesis 2:1–3) 

So, we have experienced the prehistory of Creation and its Satisfaction, but what about the concrescence of the event itself? Ah, that’s what the rest of the Bible (all 30,000 verses) is for!  



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