On October 28, 2011 Kristian Primeau wrote:
What a conundrum! Being observed by many as having done "...nothing, at all!", I have come to the conclusion that I have, in all actuality, accomplished alot...
Finally, a moment of epiphany... Nothing Is Something!
At last, hope and inspiration build...wait a minute...
I was tricked!
What can we say...
To which I replied:
Thanks for your musings on the 'state' of nothingness. It can be confusing to many because we are taught language so we can relate words and concepts to others. When it comes to nothing in general (the lack of something) it already starts to degrade. We quantify a lack with a simple measurement -a glass half-empty. Or we quantify a lack with an idea of what was (or should have been) there -if jane has three apples and john takes away two.
We are instructed from infancy in this simplistic addition & subtraction. Higher mathematics is not needed in the average person’s daily grind and thus falls into disuse as one progresses through real life. In my case, I had created my own style of math long before I learned to count (thus it was inherently non-numerical) so I was predisposed against the stale indoctrinations of the ignorant masses. I already had a system that worked, however, I was happy to incorporate this numerical math into my life because it was beneficial for communicating quantities of things.
This is how it worked when I was in school... you are shown a group of things and then you assign numbers to how many of them there are. If there are eight things in the picture you write an 8 on your worksheet. If there are four, you write 4. If there are forty billion things in the picture you use your advanced non-numerical math system that you made up all by yourself while you were still a baby and you translate your outcome to a recognizable numerical equivalent so you can share it with your teacher. Oh, that’s right, they wouldn’t bother with numbers too big to count or too small to count. Incidentally, those were the only things I was interested in.
You mention that others have noted you doing “...nothing at all!” and I would agree with you. Giving the impression of total non-essence is a great (some might say glorious) feat. But I want to make it very clear that while ‘giving an impression’ is something, nothing isn’t necessarily anything.
Obviously nothing CAN be and generally IS something. But that’s when used in that ever-present numerical sense -Jane has zero apples OR Jane has nothing. And that “nothing” is not the nothing of total lack of existence, for she still has her life. Like so many words (yes, the WORD nothing is also a thing) nothing has many meanings and uses.
So now we’ve transitioned back to words. Let us dispense with zero, because it never will be nothing in the fullest sense. Don’t get me wrong. I love ‘zero’. But it’s about as non-extant as ‘having nothing to do’. Zero is at best a placeholder and at worst it’s a lack (usually of apples or other fruit).
So lets get to the point of this diatribe, nothing.
The WORD nothing IS SOMETHING. In the vernacular it is used ad infinitum in this finite sense. To fully understand nothing, we need to see beyond the boring concept of an ever-expanding infinity (yawn). We need to see an infinity that never had to start because “it” either already never wasn’t OR wasn’t ever never.
Colloquially it would be appropriate to speak of ‘the big nothing’ as never having existed. And we have no problem with this elementary phrasing. In fact our ever-unchanging web site uses many such literary tricks to get people started thinking about nothing.
Every-so-often we like to break out the ultimate truth about nothing and let people in on what exactly ‘the big nothing’ isn’t even not.
We have always held that nothing (the big nothing, real nothing) has no state, but is not lacking a state. A lack would make nothing something. Nothing is better than that, so we explain further. Nothing is so non-extant but so non-lacking that ‘it’ can’t EVEN not exist. Nothing has no capacity, nothing has no lack, nothing has no ability to have or not have anything. Yet, we have nothing and we are so proud of ‘it’ that we want to share nothing with everyone (for $5).
So now I hope you see clearly that when you were tricked by nothing, you were tricked into enlightenment... or whatever.