I am studying Erling Kagge’s ‘Silence’ and already the task becomes a little clearer. The task is The Void – the absolution of emptiness; the untouchable beauty of the devoid; the ego-less; the touch that never reaches; the engorgement of space upon the infinite; the fullness of the circle and the sheerness of the endless light out-with its circumference. The task is The Void – but the anti-nihilist version – the mouth of creation swallowing the tail of negation as negation’s own mouth pursues creation’s tail in an endless yin-yang harmony where matter and substance may not outdo nor usurp the subjective; the place where thought sinks and rockets in spirals of recombinant fury and tenderness; The Void as the flood; the drought; the fecundity of ever-shifting equilibrium; The Void as the delirium of peace and The Void as the eternity of transience.
It gets clearer, slowly, and it is a joyful trepidation. It culminates, for any given soul, in the ultimate silence of cessation but, collectively, cosmically, The Void is the fulmination and culmination of despair into a leavened and breathless beauty – it is the final wordless word, with no definition and no translation; the utterance of the unutterable. So this is the task, and already, it is quietly amusing to think that I could have thought that ‘Instagram’ had any bearing!
It’s not just the silence, of course. It’s the taste and the smell of nothingness wherein truth also lies. The blank slate of potentiality and the impenetrable obfuscation of unreachable, matter-less space – this is the enveloping caress of vacuity that transforms through negation, transcending all tangibility. The extremities of all possible spectra mark the beginning and end of reason and experience, and it is only in these pristine hinterlands that purpose reveals itself. In this way, we also misunderstand the world in our positing a binary model as the underlying juxtaposition of nature. For zero and one – nullity and presence – are not, in fact, mirroring equals in some kind of endless interchange. Nullity and The Void are supreme; they are the lords of all relationships, for it is not out of nothing that things emerge, but always some other thing, however some things do transition into nothingness, eventually, in time, and once there, there they shall remain. From nothing, there is no return, and no emergence.
And nothing is the cement which holds all things together. The space between words. The silence between musical notes. The empty voids between far distant worlds, the chasm which separates past lovers, the invisible wall between living souls and dead ones, the invisible, impossible bridge which agonisingly separates memories from their source; and the formless, dreamless moments during sleep, where to all intents and purposes, we cease to exist, practising for the greatness of The Void ahead.
The task of the words, in the basking silence, is akin to that of the task of lungs – to extract the life-giver from the cornucopia of elements, send it coursing through the supernature, capillaries pulsing with vigour, and cast off all of the unnecessary noise and filth. The words are the purification machinery but the machinery is too often imperfect, accumulating flaws and impurities along the way. How can the language shake off these imperfections so that the silence is not contaminated but gradually, through accretion and precision, becomes revelatory – bursting with the cacophony of celebration at our liberation into The Void at the masterful hand of art? Memes, metaphors and concepts – all ideologues in their own right – must work and breathe together in symbiotic industry to keep these airways of the mind clean and free.
And The Void poses an even sharper question. What is poetry? It also offers its own answers. Poetry is the emotional hue of the sensual tension between syntax and semantics; the solipsistic branch of mathematics best known as allegory; the way in which the inexpressible contorts logic and turns it into feeling and the enchantment which lures forms of pure despair into shape-shifting echoes of real human souls.
Poetry may in fact be the baseline, core activity of, and in The Void. It is a space-less endeavour after all, and true poetry can never relate to the material. Poetry is always about the illusive and allusive, the immaterial and memorial, the mythologies and morphologies of individual destinies.
Copyright Kosmogonic 2018