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Sometimes the Nothing shows through…

May 13, 2007

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“God created the world out of nothing”, wrote Paul Valéry. “And sometimes the nothing shows through.”

I know how he feels, especially on dreich Sunday afternoons, with Monday morning and work approaching, and what seems like an endless emptiness stretching ahead.

What’s it all for?

Our culture suppresses unhappiness. We are not supposed to admit that we see the darkness, and to feel empty is a sign of failure. And there’s plenty to distract us: flat screen tellies, mobile phones, movies, and gorgeous unattainable people.

The advertising industry cashes in on our dissatisfaction. There’s always going to be a toy that will give us that missing virility and make it all worthwhile.

And if we’re not using drink or religion to fill the hole inside us, we can at least get a voyeur’s thrill from watching the news and realising that some poor bastard is getting it worse than us.

Me, I tend to fill the hole with information, which is arguably healthier than drink. It hasn’t made me any happier, but for some one with only a high school education, trying to fill the void has at least taught me something. I am driven to try to understand the world, to find an intellectual solution to a problem of the heart.

While depression is a black hole and a downward spiral, I think that facing the darkness at the heart of life is the beginning of wisdom. It strips away the phony gloss of late capitalist society, laughs at our mediocre, ego-driven aspirations and removes the glamour from the celebrities we idolise. It strips us naked.

Once this is gone, we need to have a serious look at what’s left. And if we listen hard enough, maybe we can find something inside ourselves, or in each other, to make it all worthwhile.

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