The Origins of ‘Nothing’

What this new phase of writing means to me ‘now’

Οὖτίς ἐγώ, Οὖτίς ἐμού’

‘Outis egō, Outis emou’

‘I am Nobody, Nobody is my name.’

~ Odysseus, Book 9, Homer’s Odyssey

There comes a time in a man’s life, when the road takes a turn… neither for the better, nor worse; but when he finally sees 20/20, and keeps it 100.

These writings reflect that reality. These essays observe nature, the fabric of reality; whether through technology or life. Here’s a glimpse of that tomorrow:

‘Metamorphosis’ (Madrid, 2022) by Ben Chrisman; © Chrisman Studios

  • A canvas filled to the brim with ‘metamorphoses’ 1
    • Technê of making, of building, the Art of Technology 2
    • Artefacts, whether Words, images, voices and visuals filled with meaning 3
    • Poiēsis of ‘quintessence’ yet from ‘nothingness.’
    • Presence 4 of joy & happiness, sorrow & grief, and clarity on life; all of life, shades of life, from every possible travel

A quintessence, even from nothingness…

~ John Donne

Why this evolution, why now, and whither tomorrow?

Oh, my name it ain’t nothing

My age it means less,…’

~ Bob Dylan, ‘With God on Our Side’

For years, my writing was suffused in minutiae and meaningless ramblings. The battering of life & a sense of disorientation prevents clarity.

To wit, the poet’s description of hell on earth, is apt:

the sea had soakt his heart through

He heard a sound beate from the sea-bred rock
Against which gave a huge sea horrid shocks,
That belcht upon the firme land weedes and fome’

~ Chapman’s Homer, ‘The Odyssey’

But now, ashore, I see. The surface of reality that is our life.

It is time to write what one sees; not pablum that passes for fluff.

Side A: Technology’s Inferno — The Imaginarium of ‘the self’

‘Come now, Since I have taught that nothing’s made of nothing,

and once brought Into existence cannot be recalled again to naught.

~ Lucretius, On the Nature of Things

  • I’ve been around technology for over 25 years. Makes me sound old. Maybe I am.
  • Do I sound weary? I hope not.
    • And in that time, one thing I’ve observed, is that fleetingly and sparingly, technology can be an art form; when it’s done right.

Everything that has been built until now, the search, social & electric revolutions we have witnessed is dwarfed by the advent of a flawed, yet beastly, Artificial Intelligence (A.I.)

A.I. is now the frontier & the horizon, for the rest of our lives.

A.I. more than any other technology presents the ultimate conundrum to mankind, makes us confront ourselves more than ever; removes us from a reality by becoming the ultimate middleman. Abstraction after abstraction, we zoom out of reality, into artificiality’s arms.

We’ve already seen how our minds are warped when immersed in substances such as alcohol; we know how minds are tweaked when immersed in a world of ‘social’ propaganda; deeper & deeper into this imaginarium, ‘the self’ descends…

Technology is a substance we trust & abuse; the definition of a toxic relationship, the way mankind once did with religions; and when one puts their trust in middlemen to absolve one of our own agency, the mind fractures.

Technology is the opiate of the masses… 5

These are the ramifications I care deeply about; technology just happens to be today’s battleground. These are the topics, startups, and poets one will find within these pages. The art of making, building and seeing reality better or worse, with or without technology’s help.

Side B: The Reality of Life — Bigger than Technology

I am everywhere my mind wants to be

And not necessarily in the future.”

~ William de Kooning

  • I’ve been around this planet for over 45 years. Makes me sound wise? No, it does not.
  • Maybe I sound world-weary. Maybe, I am not.
    • And by the time the turn came around, one sees the art from the trees, the life where it breathes and the forests it breeds

The one big difference with this new edition is a focus on what really matters in one’s life, not just an insider bubble of technology.

What really affects one’s living, whether it’s observing peace, giving attention, surfing lows; on love (marriage, friendship, family, etc.); on art (poetry, prose, painting, music & movies); most of these will be Essays & Epiphanies, expanding to podcasts, interviews or photography.

‘…not yet

A breach, but an expansion.
Like gold to airy thinness beat.

~ John Donne

About That Ending

Notes from Nothing is the Beginning to An End and the End to a Beginning

Oh, to vex me, contraryes meet in one

~ John Donne, The Holy Sonnet XIX (1610)

‘How much shall I be chang’d
Before I am chang’d.’

~ Giambattista Marino (1569 – 1625)

Over the next century, we are going to be caught in the middle of a relentless assault on the very perception of our self, by technology. While the majority of any religion, is going to gravitate toward a dictatorship and most will fall, there will be pockets of intelligence as these contradictions (both within individuals & society at large) will aim to be resolved.

Life is a series of paradoxes, that break down into nothing, as you try to grasp it. All one can do is observe with all of one’s senses, while preserving that sense of reality without losing one’s grip, distracted, circumvented and slipping under the influence of substances or institutions; whether alcohol, religion or technology.

As one of my dearest writers, Borges, reiterates, this ‘amusement one finds in writing’ can only be rewarded with ‘some echo of that pleasure’ you may find upon reading.

If you do, Godspeed. You have found a kindred spirit.

“… But under all the storm and lightning, there is nothing.

It is all just appearance, a surface of images – which is why readers may, perhaps, enjoy it.

The man who made it was a pitiable sort of creature, but he found amusement in writing it; it is to be hoped that some echo of that pleasure may reach its readers.”

~ Jorge Luis Borges

‘He Who Saw the Deep’ (Pamplona/Iruña, 2022) by Ben Chrisman; © Chrisman Studios

He came a far road, was weary, found peace,

all his labors were set on a tablet of stone.’

~ Sîn-leqi-unninni, Epic of Gilgamesh

(‘Sha naqba īmuru’ or ‘He Who Saw the Deep’)

This is my tablet of stone. These are my Notes from Nothing.

  1. A word that finds resonance in two of my favorite works of poetic and narrative prescience: Kafka’s The Metamorphosis & Ovid’s Metamorphoses. While Kafka’s modernist masterpiece, 1915, deals with the psychological aspect of individual transformation, Ovid’s oeuvre written around 8AD, reflects on the instability of humanity, through intense passions, the stuff of Greek mythos. The writing here, is a 21’st century version, that seeks to balance the deep crises that technology engenders in our individual selves and society at large. ↩︎
  2. The majority of writing here, will delve into tomorrow’s technology today, its nuances & deeper signal, not the noise & lack of intelligence seeping into every quarter of every media. ↩︎
  3. The biggest transformation in my vision has been seeing the bigger picture of reality, outside of the tech bubble, primarily through the lens of artistic millennia. Most battles technology will fight have been fought before on a philosophical battleground (think Rationalism v. Empiricism), and these have influenced every century of artistic creativity. Artefacts and Poiēsis capture the highlights of art that captures the reality of life. ↩︎
  4. Insular worlds bereft of travel, breed an artificial ‘reality’ of fear. Visiting as many parts of the world, does the opposite, and my world revolves around art ↩︎
  5. Marx referred to ‘religion as the opiate of the masses,’ in his work A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right published in 1843. He wrote: ”Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.↩︎

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