Necessity and Originality are typically cited as the parents of invention. But the maternal family tree gets complicated almost immediately when one attempts to find out who the mother of necessity is. Competition, marketing, laziness have all been offered as candidates. The ever-sarcastic and witty Thorstein Veblen has suggested that invention itself, in a psychodrama worthy of the gods, is the mother of necessity.
Not everyone is convinced that necessity is the mother of invention. John Lienhard, an academic at the University of Houston suggests that the true parents of invention are pleasure and freedom.
Invention not only thrives in freedom. It is also a door out of oppression. The theme of invention runs through the literature of slavery, prisons, and concentration camps...the primal, driving, seminal, origin of invention has to be pleasure. Who doesn't crave, just once in a lifetime crowded with pain, problems, and incompleteness, to shout, Eureka? Who doesn't understand in his bones how Archimedes leapt from the bath and ran naked down the street, shouting, "I've found it! I've found it! I've found it!" (Reference)
In 1973, the philosopher/filmmaker Woody Allen made a film about a man who ends up 200 years in the future. In Sleeper it is the year 2173 and jazz musician Miles Monroe wakes up and discovers, among other inventions, the "Orgasmatron." The "Orgasmatron" is a machine that looks like a telephone booth. Its function is to vibrate its occupants into sexual ecstasy.
In 2002 a "White Paper" entitled Technology Timeline published by BTexact Technologies, a division of British Telecommunications PLC, indicated that an "Orgasmatron" would be available by the year 2012. The "Orgasmatron" will arrive after the "invention" of "Orgasm by E-Mail" which, according to the BTexact timeline, will be invented in 2010.
Imagination is the father of the mistress of invention. Want is the mistress of invention. said 18th Century playwright Susanna Centlivre. The son is father to the man observed psychologist Sigmund Freud. Ecclesiastes tells us there is nothing new under the sun. And so we talk about re-inventing: re-inventing the self, re-engineering the business, re-designing the house, re-combining nucleic acids, re-running the race. It is okay to take a little time out for some conspicuous speculation as stimulated by this cosmic baseball game simulation.
Orgasmatron, a future invention, pitched one ecstatic game: A two-hit, complete game shutout of past inventions. It is no wonder that inventions that address the sexual disarray of the culture are forthcoming. Also forthcoming will be the social problems associated with "virtual reality" addiction. A techno-psychosis so severe and pervasive that the afflicted populations will be completely exposed and defenseless in the face of threats such as programmed insect-size nanobot warrior/terrorists. After the game, Orgasmatron simply said, "NecessitÓ Ŕ madre dell'invenzione." The game's Most Cosmic Player (MCP) leaves little doubt as to where its loyalties and sympathies reside.
But for the superb mound job of the Orgasmatron, Dream Link Technology would have been given the MCP award. With two runs scored and three runs batted in this intriguing invention of the future bears careful watching.
Not much can be said about the Past Inventions. Only the Escalator and Sonar managed to get hits. Sonar continues to be the best hitting pitcher in the Matters of Invention League. The Past Invention fielders did turn over two double plays. However, good fielding never replaces bad batting.
Of course, the inventions stand here alone without their inventors. Which reminds us of Mark Twain's cogent observation that, ""The man with a new idea is a crank until the idea succeeds."
We wonder if our Cosmodemonical Passion Machine has an immediate future.