Friday, 26 March 2010


Today, I’m going to write about nothing. Wish me luck.

Firstly, I have the same problem nearly daily. What to write? I was asking for help when it was suggested that I should write about nothing (because I’m good at that apparently). This idea intrigued me, so here goes.

I love talking about nothing. It is the only thing I know anything about.

- Oscar Wilde
How do you talk about nothing? You can talk about nothing of importance, of trivialities. But there is some, if limited, content to what you are saying. In turn how do you write about nothing? Some may cite social media sites such as twitter or Facebook as masses of meaningless content and drivel. I’m dragging this out, it’s not a difficult question. You can’t. Once you try to talk about nothing, it becomes something. An interesting paradox.

So if you can’t talk or write about nothing, what about negative space then? Negative space isn’t nothing, it is negative space. It is key to compositions in painting and photography allowing the focal point of said composition to be placed in one of the golden areas of focus. Is there a literary equivalent? I’m terrified that having thought of this question I will soon realise it is impossible to answer but it will continue to occupy my mind, eventually sending me mad. But what the hell, let’s have a crack.

I need to take a step back, address what negative space is. It is the space surrounding an object in which nothing resides but allows the viewer’s eye to focus on the intended object. Without it you could not see the intended object.
“A hole can itself have as much shape-meaning as a solid mass.” – Henry Moore
So it is the nothingness in which something can exist. So logically, in literature, it would be the unwritten. The mind of the reader, their suspension of disbelief which allows the written to make sense in their mind and exist in their imagination. In literature the editing process is as important as the writing itself, so it would be safe to assume that the author makes a deliberate effort when chosing what to include in a piece  of writing and what to omit. It is partly these omissions which allow the resulting writing to exist in a more effective and natural form in the same way that a painter may decide not to paint a certain part of a scene to draw more focus to what he deems important. To bring the analogy into the 21st century, how one may use photo editing software to erase parts of a photograph for the benefit of the overall image.

To summarise, whether it be in painting, photography, cinema or literature, what is not is as important as what is. For if there is no darkness, there is no light.

Using this logic, I can happily spend time doing nothing for doing nothing allows something to exist.


paula said...

ha! and you remind me of a musician i once knew who enlightened me by explaining how it the empty spaces in between the notes that made you hear the song.
good post, mr hodge.

Tim Hodge said...

That's a great point, it's so true.
I remember seeing something ages ago (I think it was a movie but can't remember what) where one of the characters was explaining to the other about how a perfect piece of music lingers in your ears after it finishes.

paula said...

i like that.
i think john cage is the best example of space in between the notes.
keep writing....