Nothing is the only subject I’ve not written about.
Nothing is what I want to write on now to complete my cycle of writing on everything.
Nothing survived the fire that burnt my house back then save The Quotable Nothing Book.
Published at $3.95 in 1980 by Running Press, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the book which is subtitled “Being a Book of Quotes about Nothing and Nothingness” actually contains blank pages except for quotes on “Nothing” on top of the left hand side and at the bottom of the right hand side.
The “nothing book” which bears no page numbers was given to me in Canada by two lovers, Mike Anderson and Tina Novotny, who wrote the following words therein: “Send us stuff you write in here!”
It takes more than occult powers to know that only The Poet can write on nothing.
The Quotable Nothing Book gives the definition of nothing taken from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia thusly: “NOTHING (nuth’ing), n. 1. No thing; not anything; not something; something that is not anything. The conception of nothing is reached by reflecting that a noun, or name, in form, may fail to have any corresponding object; and nothing is the noun by which its very definition is of that sort.”
Given this kind of what I consider nonsensical, if complicated, definition of nothing, little wonder Paul Valery has this quip: “God made everything out of nothing. But the nothingness shows through.”
And who am I not to trust Socrates when he says: “As for me, all I know is that I know nothing.”
Soren Kierkegaard of course echoes the master: “The something which I am is precisely a nothing.”
Against the background of the father of philosophy and his sons knowing nothing and being nothing, Ambrose Bierce defines Philosophy this way: “A route of many roads leading from nowhere to nothing.”
Edward Dahlberg knows that “It takes a long time to understand nothing.”
The great Lord Byron sums up books thus: “A book’s a book, although there’s nothing in it.”
Gertrude Stein opines: “It takes a lot of time to be a genius, you have to sit around so much doing nothing, really doing nothing.”
The fear though is that “There may not be no nothing”, as H.L. Mencken declares. Jonathan Edwards ups the ante in this wise: “That there should absolutely be nothing at all is utterly impossible. The mind, let it stretch its conceptions ever so far, can never so much as bring itself to conceive of a state of perfect nothing.”
Frederic Amiel has this different take on the subject of nothing: “Almost everything comes from almost nothing.”
And wallowing in nothing, Madame du Deffand declaims: “I hear nothings, I speak nothings, I take interest in nothing, and from nothing to nothing I travel gently down the dull way which leads to becoming nothing.”
Alas, the words of Henry Fielding ring true: “To whom nothing is given, of him nothing can be required.”
Mussolini sums up his foreign policy this way: “Nothing for Nothing.”
Jean Paul Richter would rather have it thus: “A variety of nothing is better than a monotony of something.”
For Penelope Gilliat, “There are times when nothing has to be better than anything.” Jonathan Swift gets into the nothing fray in this wise: “He asks for nothing; and thinks, like a philosopher, that he wants nothing.”
Crucially, Lady Morgan asserts the inevitability of nothing: “Nothing’s new, and nothing’s true, and nothing matters.”
The mathematics of nothing engages the attention of Joseph Glanvill: “All the ciphers of arithmetic are no better than a single nothing.”
“What then is man?” asks Edward Young, and he supplies the answer: “The smallest part of nothing.”
The politicos who hold the world by the jugular are deep into the nothing game, as Oscar Wilde explains with aplomb: “It is to do nothing that the elect exist.”
Beaumarchais weighs in with this choice admonition: “People who wish to make nothing of anything advance nothing and are good for nothing.”
Before opening your mouth to condemn me for wasting the time of the world on nothing, it is crucial to remember the words of Charles Caleb Colton: “When you have nothing to say, say nothing.”
I have dabbled in this writing on nothing mindful of Edmund Burke’s immortal words: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
As I take my leave with nothing, the Good Book beckons at The First Epistle of Paul: “We brought nothing into this world, and it is certain that we can carry nothing out.”