Friday, 13 November 2009


Nothing is a full-bodied word, like zero, which holds within its 0-shaped belly the sense of everything and nothing. Sifr, like the world itself, is an orange-shaped anamoly and is also that much-touted word, a paradox. And all these deliciously curling words that twist the tongue and make the mouth pucker up in a round pout, ‘nothing’is wonderfully full.

So to a casual, ‘How are you?’, the desultory reply ‘Nothing’, might mean just that or imply the hint of some life-altering existential angst. Compulsive literariness compels me to remember Beckett, the guru of ‘nothing’, exploring the very absurdity of this nothingness which pervades modern human existence.

Interestingly, a status message on Facebook stating ‘I am doing nothing, and loving it’, gets more thumbs up and comments than something urgent and macabre like, say, ‘My life is ending’! Evidence of the enduring appeal of nothing!

I am fascinated by the endless potential the literary device of litote throws up, and thus ‘nothing’ fetches in its toe, the desire and yearning for its other half, everything and the intermediate, something. Sketching a lazy trajectory of a person’s ‘life’ from birth to death, it is interesting to wonder if it is a move from nothing through something to everything?

Well, then why the nothingness associated with death, and if the zero be recalled, what of the promise of a circle come to its completion when the curved line joins itself while running always at an exact distance from the centre. The perfection of the circle remains the unattainable zephyr that all vie for and never achieve, yet death is understood commonsensically as an end, not a much-desired, much-awaited closing of a circle to encompass the everything and nothing life has been. Lest I be mistaken as championing the cause of morbid quietus over free-breathing life, a clarification -- it is the fullness of life that death celebrates, an ever-interesting, ever-perplexing Rubik’s cube; much like ‘thingness’ arises out of the heady mix of the one and the other,of nothing and everything, or as in literature, the concept of one can be explained by the opposite of its negative.

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