Monday, October 6, 2008

The Something in Nothing

Today's Lecture on Nothing began to make me think that, perhaps, in saying nothing, more can be said than by anyone attempting to say something. In content and/or in length, it is much more open to speak about nothing than to write about anything else. When talking with no particular goal in mind, the thoughts are fleeting and disjointed, continuing for minutes before the speaker or even the listener realizes that nothing has been said at the same time that many things have been mentioned.
We are told in essays, theses, and in life in general, our thoughts and arguments must be well-structured and focused. When writing a focused essay, suddenly we are restricted to one and only one line of thought, giving as much detail as possible in that direction of thinking. In other words, we are writing about something. Writing or talking without thought, freeform, letting ideas occur when they occur, is identified as rambling. Not talking about anything. Talking about nothing. And yet thoughts still occur, ideas are still conveyed, but they are not dwelled upon or investigated in further detail. Simply because thoughts are mentioned and left in the dust as other thoughts occur in rapid succession, it is thought that you are talking about nothing. But something is in the speech: many, unrestricted somethings. Though not extensively detailed, so many somethings occur, so many idle observations and simple ideas are noted, that it could not possibly be said that a rambling, particularly John Cage's Lecture on Nothing (which I see as rambling), contains nothing, nor that rambling is a negative thing. But now I'm rambling, and unlike Cage, I am trying to stay slightly focused.
I felt that this lecture proved that there is no such thing as Nothing, in the same way that Cage proved there is no such thing as silence. Perhaps there is no particular goal (though I think there is), and therefore the lecture does not travel from point A to point B, but rather circles around itself, getting nowhere. Even so, so many thoughts occur that it could not possibly by any stretch of the imagination contain nothing. Sure, many of the observations are meaningless or obvious, but they are still present, and while they are present, nothing cannot exist. When I say that I believe there is an actual goal in this lecture, I am saying that John Cage had this explicitly in mind. In the same way that he proved sound is always present and therefore silence cannot exist, he used his Lecture on Nothing to demonstrate that something is always there to be thought or observed, no matter how simplistic, and therefore, nothing cannot exist.

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