37. “At home with voids, reality, and self sums, products of zero “Not that”, it is “no thing”, “nil”, “nothing””

Meantime, when once we know from nothing still Nothing can be create, we shall divine More clearly what we seek: those elements From which alone all things created are, And how accomplished by no tool of Gods.

– Titus Lucretius Carus: ‘On the Nature of Things’, Book 1 (‘Substance is External’, ‘The Void’, ‘Nothing Exists per se Except Atoms And The Void’). See Marshall Clagett: ‘Greek Science in Antiquity’ 1955 and revised 1963.

Although yu, yet wu. Although wu, yet yu. “Although yu, yet wu” is a denial of Being. “Although wu, yet yu” is a denial of nothingness. In this way, it is not that there is no thing, but that things are not truly (substantial) things. If things are not truly (substantial) things, in what way are they “things”?

– Seng-chao (Sengzhao)


59. “One “retracts””

Each one (retracts) within the time of the utterance of his fellow.

– The Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin

Reality no longer sustains the values necessary to the creation of Snow White…, or the witch or the dwarfs; it lacks the floor under the imagination, the ingredients of possible aspiration, the hunger for simulated fate, to create “stories” of any kind. There is therefore no happy ending to this Snow White, no denouement except one that mocks the original’s, no satisfaction to be obtained from a clear, completed arc of fictional experience. Fiction, Barthelme is saying, has lost its power to transform and convince and substitute, just as reality has lost, perhaps only temporarily (but that is not the concern of the imagination), its need and capacity to sustain fictions of this kind…. [The] book makes its way by dealing steadily with the problems of language. One “retracts” what the written world has been composed of not by ignoring it, by writing new language, but by discrediting it as the answer to one’s own contemporary needs.

– Richard Gilman: ‘Donald Barthelme’ reprinted Random House in ‘The Confusion of Realms’ in 1969