Writing on the Wake of the Void
I discovered that it is necessary, absolutely necessary, to believe in nothing. That is, we have to believe in something which has no form and no color—something which exists before all forms and colors appear.
Every word is like an unnecessary stain on silence and nothingness.
To write about something is difficult enough, but to embrace nothingness in our writing is a whole nother matter. Writing is the praxis of self-alienation and the abandonment of one’s voice. It is a mute activity. It is, like all creative acts, wholly reliant on nothingness to bring itself into existence and to reify the existence of its creator. Always direction in narrative based on the myth of coherent linear time. The struggle of the writer is not between themselves and their reader but between themselves and the infinite vacuousness of the universe. So much empty space. A blank page stands in for the universe whiter and brighter than the big bang wordless and blindingly devoid of life or anything. The writer is not God and creativity is just another spontaneous burst of energy; another cog working toward entropy. Everything is ephemeral and the beauty of the creative act is its inherent acceptance that it will decay into nothingness. The very act of creating something is promising its sacrifice to the void of the forgotten.
I am not sure why I write? It is certainly not for money or fame. I remain an obscure and obtuse relic of some sort of Flaubertian wave of nostalgia. I’m not sure I even like Flaubert all that much. Flaubert and his ultimate goal was to pen a book about nothing. I respect this. Flaubert was the man who claimed that “the most beautiful books are those with the least matter.” Maybe I am a victim of one of the definitions of postmodernism? Too many narratives and too much paralysis. The inability to truly articulate myself from the bowels of the void. I write for no reason, and perhaps this is why I am not sure why it is exactly that I write. I too Flaubert, want to write about nothing, and I too believe the most beautiful things are those with the least matter.
The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.
Through his perfectionism and despite my alliance with him Flaubert has failed me. Every word is thought to represent something, to really mean something. We are said to know something as construed through the words we have come to know it. But the purest knowledge is without words. So why why write? My writing often borders on the nonsensical, illogical and abstract. The irony is that some of my favorite writers are those, like Flaubert or Robert Walser, whose very concern is finding some form of orientation between themselves and the universe. What I write is intended to disorientate and make one feel lost within the universe that they or we have believed exists in a certain way. My writing is aimed at fictionalizing reality and not defining, reflecting or finding it. But at the same time, and especially in my poetic work, I find myself trapped in this painterly Flaubertian minimalist aesthetic and it is between these two world-views, these two conflicting aesthetics, that I find my writing on the wake of the void.
My interest in nothingness is what it has to say. For me, silence is a well-constructed myth. The most deafening sound is the absence of one. Writing is voiceless in the aural sense of my speaking; however, no one can deny the clamour of words organized thoughtfully or spontaneously across a page. Every word becomes its own big bang. Every word is its own cosmology. A sudden burst of life and a quick cold death. At the same time every word exhausted in the pursuit of understanding the universe is simply another brick added to the already toppling Tower of Babel. We must speak not with our words, but with the wisdom of understanding that we truly know that we know nothing, and accept that our words too must succumb to nothingness.
But what is it to write about nothing? For Flaubert the most simplistic formula was to write about the everyday in exacting words. To paint a scene, or to animate life as simply as possible through words. In Beckett we see the construction of a literary impassibility, especially in The Unnameable and Texts for Nothing. In his writing of these books Beckett came to realize the terror of thought and the nontranscendental nature of language and writing. Unlike Flaubert, in Beckett we cannot extract the reality of life and nature simply through words. Instead, we can only speak of alientation and nothingness, for somewhere between is where we struggle to exist. Beckett expresses excellently the self-alienation of the author and narrator, and especially so in Texts for Nothing. We can see the act of narration or the creation of a story as a form of torture. The impossibility of both ending or continuing the story. The insurmountable difficulty in the responsibility of the narrator to bring something out of nothingness, to create something all while knowing there is nothing but nothing. Writing is this: it is impossible.
The mistake I make is to try and think, even the way I do, such as I am I shouldn’t be able, even the way I do.
Thoughtful writing or writing with thought slips into a sort of ontological fiction. It threatens to become dishonest in its delivery. It doesn’t admit to the authors tenuous nature. And through it, the author cannot admit that they know that they know nothing. A thoughtful author seeks immortality, they do not submit themselves to nothingness.
Writing on the wake of the void is to accept nothingness. To give the universe colour and to allow it to fade back into black. It accepts the purity of ephemerality and decay. Writing about nothing is writing for the sake of pure interest and in the suspension of a moment that might allow us to forget about ourselves and spill the intellect over the edges of reason and onto the shores of an unreasonable nirvana.
For as long as there have been men — and men who read Lautréamont — everything has been said and few people have gained anything from it.
Maybe I write to forget or to meditate? I write in explosions. Quickly and dramatically. It is easier to answer the question of why I don’t write when I don’t write … I have too much to say of too little importance and I haven’t reached that point where I understand it in the context of the void. It is meaningless if I try. If I write about nothing it can be fireworks. Loud, beautiful and as quick as it comes into existence it falls back into nothingness. But as much as everything has been said … nothing has been said at all.
The story goes that, before or after he died, he found himself before God and he said: “I, who have been so many men in vain, want to be one man: myself.” The voice of God replied from a whirlwind: “Neither am I one self; I dreamed the world as you dreamed your work, my Shakespeare, and among the shapes of my dream are you, who, like me, are many persons—and none.”
J. L. Borges
Let yourself fall into the last period lie a black hole. Keep falling until all turns white. Language has become artifice here. Even if our aim is to write about something, it will surely be swept up in the ebb and tide of nothing. To create is to craft something knowing it will suffer our same fate in death. We try in vain to write our many lives with such accuracy as to strike the bullseye of eternity and immortality. We are many and we are none. But we should not worry. After all, when the words end … there is nothing.