How do I blog about nothing? Should I leave the page blank? Would that be nothing? No, it wouldn’t be; it would be a blank screen. Not really blank, of course… Suddenly I am aware of the dots and smudges on my screen. Very, very far from nothing it would be if I left it blank.
And if I left this first one blank, I would have to leave all the following blogs blank as well, wouldn’t I?
So I fill it up with words, and the more words that flit across the screen, the further from nothing it becomes. But wait – if that were true, it implies that a blank screen really is nothing.
It will come to me eventually. Or perhaps not. Maybe I’ll just find it easier to blog about nothing.
damn, I spoilt it all with a full stop which of course is “something” and not “nothing”.
Leopold Stokowksi said, “A painter paints his pictures on canvas. But musicians paint their pictures on silence. We provide the music, and you provide the silence.”
At first I only knew of the first sentence and I thought he should have replaced “silence” with “ambient sound.” Now I’ve looked up the entire quote and it seems he should have considered “coughing, fidgeting, etc.” I thought more of it and decided that if there were any silence possible it would also be provided by the musicians, between the notes, during rests, at the beginning and and at the end.
The point is is that he was trying, quite unsuccessfully to talk about “nothing.” and he talked about two things, neither of which was nothing.
What a wonderful quote! I wish I had seen that before I finished the book. You are, of course, right: he wasn’t talking about “nothing” – or rather, he was talking about one sort of nothing: the nothing (that I call “nothingness”) that is a gap between somethings, exemplified by the pauses between movements and the silences before and after, as you said.
What you write about the silence in music is very interesting. John Cage wrote (in 1952) “4.33″, which consisted of someone at a piano, with silence for four minutes and thirty-three seconds. And of course there wasn’t silence, since the audience became aware of the background noises. Cage had, in fact, produced an event in which the audience was the “orchestra”.
I don’t agree, then, with Stokowksi regarding a painter. The painter’s blank canvas is as much “nothing” as is the silence that the audience provides.
I have just remembered that Ashley Montagu, in a book about touching and the skin (I hope that’s the source) said that between each exhalation and the inhalation that follows it is a very brief moment [nothing] inevitably followed by anxiety about whether another breath will be drawn, and the possibility of oblivion…
Nice, Deborah. This gap is again the nothingness between two things, that actually distinguishes between them. The gap that you mention as “anxiey” is interesting, as it relates to Heidegger and also Sartre.
I very much like this reference the possibility – the real possibility – of oblivion, that I refer to extensively in “Nothing Matters” with regards to the arts and religion.
There’s more to nothing than meets the eye.