Just a note on the notion of Origin …
This was started in the Preface and brought up again in this chapter (p 39), so I just wanted to make a couple of remarks on the German text to provide a bit of background to our discussions.
The German title of The Ever-present Origin is, as I’m sure you all know, Ursprung and Gegenwart. The first term is most often translated as “origin”, the second as “now” or “the present”. So far so good.
“Ursprung” is interesting insofar as it is made up of two parts, the prefix “ur-” and the noun “Sprung” “Ur-” carries the meaning of antiquity, of primoridiality, of initiality. The German word for the Big Bang, for example, is Urknall (lit. “the primordial bang”). “Sprung” is the noun derived from the verb springen, which can mean “to spring”, “to leap”, but also “to crack” as when you pour hot water into a glass vessel not meant to withstand the heat. He brings up this idea again in Ch. 3, p. 39, in the third full paragraph, but interestingly enough, this has only been summarily translated from the German. Other notions associated with “Sprung” are, according to Gebser (Gesamtausgabe (GA), 2, p. 75) “jerkishness” or “excursiveness” (Sprunghaftigkeit), and suddeness and abruptness or precipitiousness (Plötzlichkeit); that is, there is an implicit discontinuity contained herein. He goes on to say that words like “beginning” or “start” are too time-bound (zeitgebunden) to convey the notion properly. It is this discontinuity that also plays an important role in his choosing of the word “mutation” to describe the shifts from one consciousness structure to another.
And though I’m risking making this too long (again), I would like to raise another small issue that might be of interest to you. One of Gebser’s most fascinating and insightful shorter texts, produced along the way to EPO, is called Der grammatische Spiegel (lit. The Grammatical Mirror), in which he outlines changes in current language usage that reflect the shift in consciousness he perceives coming. A theme brought up in this text and which finds strong, recurring emphasis in EPO, is the notion of the dominance of pure relationship (Herrschaft der reinen Beziehungen). It’s not the thing in and of themselves that are important, it is the relationships between them that gives them new, intensified meaning. He sees an example of this in a new use of “and” that is “not used anymore solely as an enumerating or possibly summarizing word, rather as one that establishes a relationship” (GA, 1, p. 160; my translation).
I believe it is this “und” which we must read in the German title, and which the translators have acknowledged in their translation of the title. Ursprung und Gegenwart is literally “Origin and the Present”, but Gebser could have chosen a similar formulation in German, yet he didn’t. The two notions are set together as equals, so to speak, in a sense of this-as-well-as-that, a pure relationship which he then spends 500+ pages elucidating.