Anachronistic Oedipus

Wikipedia offers an example of the ‘time-travel’ Bootstrap Paradox (among several):

A man travels back in time and falls in love with and marries a woman, who he later learns was his own mother, who then gives birth to him. He is therefore his own father (and thus also his father’s father, father’s father’s father and so on), creating a closed loop in his ancestry and giving him no origin for his paternal genetic material.

It thus illustrates templex auto-production in a dramatic, anthropological form. Even in its comparatively tame, fully mathematico-scientifically respectable variants, feedback causality tends to auto-production. Any nonlinear dynamic process, in direct proportion to its cybernetic intensity, provides the explanation for its own genesis. It appears, asymptotically, to make itself happen. Cybernetic technicity — epitomized by robotic robot-manufacture — includes a trend to autonomization essentially. Pure (or idealized) capitalistic inclination to exponential growth captures the same abstract nonlinear function. As it mechanizes, capital approximates ever more close to an auto-productive circuit in which it appears as the ‘father’ of itself (M → C → M’).

When the time-travelling Terminator is destroyed (in 1984), its control chip is salvaged by Cyberdyne Systems, to supply the core technology from which the Terminator will be built (in 2029). The Skynet threat is not merely futuristic, but fully templex. It produces itself within a time-loop, autonomized against extrinsic genesis. The abstract horror of the Terminator franchise is a matter of auto-production.

As a creature of the Bootstrap Paradox, Oedipus mates with a matrilineal ancestor to give rise to himself. The even more thoroughly popularized Grandfather Paradox tricks him into the killing of a patrilineal ancestor, to make himself impossible. The paternal contributor is not merely supplanted, but dramatically terminated. What the hell was happening in Thebes? (That’s the question the Sophoclean chorus asks.) We already know it’s a horror story, so we have a provisional answer: Nothing good.

The query, at ‘once’ archaic and futuristic, is the Riddle of the Sphinx. It’s appropriately cryptic. Wikipedia (again) provides a sound introduction:

There was a single sphinx in Greek mythology, a unique demon of destruction and bad luck. According to Hesiod, she was a daughter of Orthus and either Echidna or the Chimera, or perhaps even Ceto; according to others, she was a daughter of Echidna and Typhon. All of these are chthonic figures from the earliest of Greek myths, before the Olympians ruled the Greek pantheon. The Sphinx is called Phix (Φίξ) by Hesiod in line 326 of the Theogony, the proper name for the Sphinx noted by Pierre Grimal‘s The Penguin Dictionary of Classical Mythology.


The Sphinx is said to have guarded the entrance to the Greek city of Thebes, and to have asked a riddle of travellers to allow them passage. The exact riddle asked by the Sphinx was not specified by early tellers of the stories, and was not standardized as the one given below until late in Greek history. […] It was said in late lore that Hera or Ares sent the Sphinx from her Ethiopian homeland (the Greeks always remembered the foreign origin of the Sphinx) to Thebes in Greece where she asks all passersby the most famous riddle in history: “Which creature has one voice and yet becomes four-footed and two-footed and three-footed?” She strangled and devoured anyone unable to answer. Oedipus solved the riddle by answering: Man — who crawls on all fours as a baby, then walks on two feet as an adult, and then uses a walking stick in old age.

It gets stranger:

By some accounts (but much more rarely), there was a second riddle: “There are two sisters: one gives birth to the other and she, in turn, gives birth to the first. Who are the two sisters?” The answer is “day and night” (both words are feminine in Greek). This riddle is also found in a Gascon version of the myth and could be very ancient.

Which tells us that a primordial version of the riddle refers directly to temporal nonlinearity (templexity). The cryptic time-circuit is comparable to a Yin-Yang vortex, without sexual polarity.

Bested at last, the tale continues, the Sphinx then threw herself from her high rock and died. An alternative version tells that she devoured herself.

She is, perhaps, an Ouroboros.

Thus Oedipus can be recognized as a “liminal” or threshold figure, helping effect the transition between the old religious practices, represented by the death of the Sphinx, and the rise of the new, Olympian gods.

It turns out, there is a comic twist to the return of Oedipus in modern times:

Sigmund Freud describes “the question of where babies come from” as a riddle of the Sphinx.

Note: ‘Anachronistic Oedipus’ needs an additional ‘K’ to make the qabbalism come out right.

ADDED: A little supportive clarification (from the dark side) —

6 thoughts on “Anachronistic Oedipus

  1. An additional “E”

    (as in 2.71828182845904523536028747135266249775724709369995…)

    will give you chronodisintegrated islamic apocolypticism.

    “What the hell was happening in Thebes?” sounds so past tense.

  2. Pingback: Detroit: Disaster-Futurology | synthetic_zero

  3. I liked the way they did it on Futurama, they implied he killed his grandpa before becoming his own grandpa so it wasn’t true vacuum diagram but had a vector to arrive at the stable point of being his own grandfather.

    Also The End of Eternity is my favorite take on time travel. I liked the analogy of a pencil going around in a circle over and over to describe the convergence of looping universes.

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