The nothing, the whole
THERE IS CONSTRUCTION GOING ON, next door; I’m at my favorite hideaway, a poolside restaurant, here in Phnom Penh. Getting ready for Ubud. Thinking, feeling. These Americans visiting from Arizona and two other places I didn’t catch had a chat with me just now about what’s going on on the States. A crazy time. Things are nuts. Me, wondering how to talk to them, wondering how to share the angst that’s crept up, inappropriate?, the things that are bubbling up from reading online about shootings and hate culture and gay marriage and rights, yet all of this in the context of humidity and saturated air; it’s weird. I tell them. They listen. We move on. Angst. Worry about the nothing. This idea that something terrible is going to happen, any time, and when you try to define the ‘it’ that ‘one’ is worried about, then the answer is, truthfully, ‘Nothing.’ In sitting today with my xeroxes of Martin Heidegger‘s Basic Writings (Harper & Kim, New York, NY: 1817), I’m also gathering interpretations on what Heidegger meant, when he put his thoughts down, about ‘holding oneself out into the nothing.’
THE SUN IS GOING IN just as the pool is ready, or, I should say, as I am ready for it. Almost. Nearly. I always have anxiety around things like this. Starts. New ones. Urgh, let me just get on with the story, though, shall I? Been a strange breeze, these last few moments. The air thick but not so overwhelming as hot season. It’s okay. It’s going to be a coolness, shortly. The reflected buildings, buildings-in-progress, I should say, dancing and rippling on the surface of this place. I’ve been here countless times, now. I’ve gotten the same order, pretty much each one. I don’t know why but there is a movement, a rippling, but it’s not the water I’m talking about, now. It’s me. It’s terribly unsettling, this sensation of not-knowing. And yet, and yet, I know. Making space for uncertainty. That’s always been the whole work of it, hasn’t it? This journey that started before it officially did, maybe before my birth, yes, probably, if I want to get metaphilosophical. Did you know I will do this, if let to? I will. Friends let me go there. Sometimes and oft repeating phrasings, trying them out again over geographies and a decade, or two, or three. ‘You, um. You said that before.’ I let them let me, and we go together into the tepid areas. I think about this sort of thing as the water is too cold for my toe, my ankle, my calves. It’s okay. I’m going to do it. I push off the ledge, and then, I’m in.
I used to hang out at this poolside north of BKK1 but south of Riverside, so in the middle of Phnom Penh. I would bring along this notebook full of papers that had xeroxes for a class I never got to teach, long story, but the topic was metaphysics. That. Yeah. I guess you could say that not everyone is ready to go tehre with me, to ‘N+1’ it, as we say here now, it makes it easier to go ahead and do the thing you don’t really know what you’re doing but you do it because of what will happen after you do. The next. The next! That is the them for ‘N’ Vientiane. NEXT. But ‘N’ is another vector.
Today, thinking of Ubud. The next spot for S P A C E. I have left a lot of times. Left ‘home,’ then the adopted-home, then the places where I felt I had kinships (but didn’t, not really), to places where I was more useful creatively and later, insipirationally, and then, even after that, places where I pretty much talked to no one. And so it happens, that it becomes time to move, again. Time to move ‘on,’ wherever, but not with a clear path. This is also N+1 work, for us at DK. To be okay with uncertainty. To push the edge. To egg each other on when we start getting complacent, to push ourselves to keep moving, keep changing. To grow.
A base, of a place, for a time, to make conversation salons of the sort that meander and wander (much like this post) but with an aim. It’s not like wandering is aimless, if you really think abou tit. Soemtimes you need space to explore the edges, to push them out a bit, to poke a hole int hat paper wall that is abstract and possibly arbitrary (like time itself, yes?) A construct to hep us cope with our regular day to day, and not get lost in ennui or the enormity of ‘what it all is,’ or means, or does, or doesn’t do. Existentialism. Transcendentalism. All of them, all of those and more, and way less, too, but for now, the clippings that I am revisiting are these. Basics of metaphilosophy. ‘What is metaphysics?’ Thinking about it with David Bohm, Jiddu Krishnamurthi, Neils Bohr, and Martin Heidegger. (Who my favorite East Asian philospher says he feels sorry for. Mrrmmm.)
Out of routines, into nothing
FROM ‘What is Metaphysics?’:
‘PROFOUND BOREDOM,’ Heidegger writes, ‘drifting here and there in the abysses of our existence like a muffling fog, removes all things and men and oneself along with it into a remarkable indifference. This boredom reveals beings as a whole.’ Just before this section he says: ‘No matter how fragmented our everyday existence may appear to be… it always deals with beings in a unity of the “whole,” if only in a shadowy way. This boredom,’ reveals beings as a whole.’
QUESTIONS come up. What does it mean to ‘hold oneself out into the nothing?’ Is this feeling normal? Is it a Western thing? Howcome so many of us born in rich countries worry about what isn’t happening, and fret about what might happen, and sort of get into this rut of anxiety and angst? More importantly, how does knowing about this overwhelming shadowy whole, the belonging stuff, how does that get applied in everyday practice to fix everyday boredom? I mean, how does Heidegger help us cope? Is that too big a question? Your thoughts?
So when we’re not really busy this ‘as a whole’ overwhelms us in, for example, real boredom. I think what he means is when we’re going about our lives we have this idea that there’s a bigger group that we belong to, and so, when we’re not preoccupied with watching YouTube or fussing over a report to our boss, when we actually have to sit down and be quietly with ourselves—alone—it hits us. The big everything, the big empty quiet thing.
Making S P A C E in Ubud…
S P A C E. Gathering very small groups of people together to talk about this sort of stuff. Click the date that’s highlighted to see what’s planned…
WOULD YOU LIKE TO hear more about what’s ahead, and what this S P A C E project is about? If yes, there is a way to get a four-email sequence that will orient you to the who, what, where, and why of this conversation spacemaking thing. Just click this box to go to a page where you can add your details. This is what to click, the white box…