It seemed to me the basic definition of mental illness, this persistent, painful inability to simply be with someone else. It might be lifelong, or it might descend like a sudden catastrophe, this blankness between ourselves and the rest of the world. The blankness might not even be obvious to others. But on our side of that severed connection, it was hell, a life lived behind glass. The only difference between mild depression and severe schizophrenia was the amount of sound and air that seeped in.
Who will teach me to write? a reader wanted to know. The page, the page, that eternal blankness, the blankness of eternity which you cover slowly, affirming time's scrawl as a right and your daring as necessity; the page, which you cover woodenly, ruining it, but asserting your freedom and power to act, acknowledging that you ruin everything you touch but touching it nevertheless, because acting is better than being here in mere opacity; the page, which you cover slowly with the crabbed thread of your gut; the page in the purity of its possibilities; the page of your death, against which you pit such flawed excellences as you can muster with all your life's strength: that page will teach you to write.
We can't handle absence anymore, anything is better than the blankness; the quiet of nothingness. People fight to put images of love and hate - both equally nauseating - between themselves and the blank space that surrounds us. It's the only escape, and yet we feel the pressure of the blankness pressing in against us, forcing the violent display ever closer, forcing us to demand images brighter, more graphic until they scorch our senses badly enough that we no longer feel the void and the images become our reality. But it's ok. Most people don't need to fear absence anymore - we're blinded, permanently. There's no need to seek out the light show that protects us either; inoculation precedes the sickness now. Sedation isn't an option, it's a shared reality. Most people don't see the beauty of the system, how perfect our salvation is.
when he kneels at other times and prays or meditates or tries to achieve a Big-Picture spiritual understanding of God as he can understand Him, he feels Nothing - not nothing, but Nothing, an edgeless blankness that somehow feels worse than the sort of unconsidered atheism he Came In with.
David Foster Wallace
Not to be with the one you love, Laura, the one person you should be spending your life with-it's like a kind of living death. To wake up every morning and know you are still here. To have that brief, sweet moment of blankness, before your mind reminds you who you are, and why you are unhappy. It was like hell. A living hell of the heart's own making.
I read obsessively when I'm writing. I think there are two kinds of fiction writers, those who read incessantly while they write and those who can't read at all, lest their individual voices get overwhelmed, or tainted somehow. I'm the first kind. To use a painfully precious metaphor, I need fixed stars to navigate by, otherwise I get lost in the blankness of the page.
Some people have a mistaken idea that all thoughts disappear through meditation and we enter a state of blankness. There certainly are times of great tranquility when concentration is strong and we have few, if any, thoughts. But other times, we can be flooded with memories, plans or random thinking. It's important not to blame yourself.
Whether in private debate or in public, any attempt I made to explain how the Black Muslim movement came about, and how it has achieved such force, was met with a blankness that revealed the little connection that the liberals' attitudes have with their perceptions or their lives, or even their knowledge-revealed, in fact, that they could deal with the Negro as a symbol or a victim but had no sense of him as a man.
For me, the beauty of the blank page, or empty screen,staring up at nine thirty after two cups of coffee and a deep breath remains unique. The blankness invites scribbling on, mental drawing , and the best feeling I know - apart from the more obvious sensual ones - is the feeling of putting down the first thought and seeing it turn into symbols. Making an idea into an emotion.
There comes a time when the blankness of the future is just so extreme, it's like such a black wall of nothingness. Not of bad things like a cave full of monsters and so, you're afraid of entering it. It's just nothingness, the void, emptiness and it is just horrible. It's like contemplating a future-less future and so you just want to step out of it. The monstrosity of being alive overwhelms you.
In the next few galactic seconds, the fate of the universe will be decided. Life - the ultimate experiment - will either explode into space, and engulf the star-clouds in a fire storm of children, trees, and butterfly wings; or Life will fail, fizzle, and gutter out, leaving the universe shrouded forever in impenetrable blankness, devoid of hope.
The Nazis, for him, are merely available movie tropes--articulate monsters with a talent for sadism. By making the Americans cruel, too, he escapes the customary division of good and evil along national lines, but he escapes any sense of moral accountability as well. In a Tarantino war, everyone commits atrocities. Like all the director's work after 'Jackie Brown,' the movie is pure sensation. It's disconnected from feeling, and an eerie blankness--it's too shallow to be called nihilism--undermines even the best scenes.
It seemed to him he had waited an age for some stir of the great grim hush; the life of the town was itself under a spell-so unnaturally, up and down the whole prospect of known and rather ugly objects, the blankness and the silence lasted. Had they ever, he asked himself, the hard-faced houses, which had begun to look livid in the dim dawn, had they ever spoken so little to any need of his spirit? Great builded voids, great crowded stillnesses put on, often, in the heart of cities, for the small hours, a sort of sinister mask, and it was of this large collective negation that Brydon presently became conscious-all the more that the break of day was, almost incredibly, now at hand, proving to him what night he had made of it.
Yes, and words are not deeds, Solanka allowed, moving off fretfully. Though words can become deeds. If said in the right place and at the right time, they can move mountains and change the world. Also, uh-huh, not knowing what you're doing - separating deeds from the words that define them - was apparently becoming an acceptable excuse. To say "I didn't mean it" was to erase meaning from your misdeeds, at least in the opinion of the Beloved ALis of the world. Could that be so? Obviously, no. No, it simply could not. Many people would say that even a genuine act of repentance could not atone for a crime, much less this unexplained blankness - an infinitely lesser excuse, a mere assertion of ignorance that wouldn't even register on any scale of regret.
Susan Griffin describes it as a time when "there is no intrinsic authority to my words." "I... clean off my desk. I make telephone calls. I know I am avoiding the typewriter. I know that in my mind, where there might be words, there is simply a blankness. I may try to write and then my words bore me." But when the time is right, the waiting will have been worth it. "Because each time I write, each time the authentic words break through, I am changed. The older order that I was collapses and dies. I lose control. I do not know exactly what words will appear on the page. I follow language. I follow the sound of the words, and I am surprised and transformed by what I record." Excerpt from "Thoughts on Writing: A Diary, " in The Writer on her Work.
Then I'm suddenly reminded of how I get engulfed with nightmares of Mom's death as soon as I fall asleep. Hesitantly, I call to him, 'Hey, Adrian?' 'Yeah?' 'Can you hold my hand the entire night?' My voice comes out as a quiet whisper. There's a pause. I'm almost afraid to meet his eyes. Heartbeat picking up faster, his fingers interweave with mine and lace them together. I turn almost reflexively and I'm faced with his eyes-burning so green that it's hard to look away. And for a second-one second, there is this feeling that flits in my chest, making my breath catch. Then his eyes close and I blink slowly-feeling as I'm in a dream-like trance. Then mine slide close too after a while of memorizing this moment, this moment of silent peacefulness. The gentle pressure of his hand holding mine coaxes me into sleep. This time, there's only a soothing blankness. And we sleep just like that; backs curved together, my head folded in his chest. As we hold hands, I fall into the awaiting darkness.
If we get rid of all wishful thinking and dubious metaphysical speculations, we can hardly doubt that - at a time not too distant - each one of us will simply cease to be. It won't be like going into darkness forever, for there will be neither darkness, nor time, nor sense of futility, nor anyone to feel anything about it. Try as best you can to imagine this, and keep at it. The universe will, supposedly, be going on as usual, but for each individual it will be as if it had never happened at all; and even that is saying too much, because there won't be anyone for whom it never happened. Make this prospect as real as possible: the one total certainty. You will be as if you had never existed, which was, however, the way you were before you did exist - and not only you but everything else. Nevertheless, with such an improbable past, here we are. We begin from nothing and end in nothing. You can say that again. Think it over and over, trying to conceive the fact of coming to never having existed. After a while you will begin to feel rather weird, as if this very apparent something that you are is at the same time nothing at all. Indeed, you seem to be rather firmly and certainly grounded in nothingness, much as your sight seems to emerge from that total blankness behind your eyes. The weird feeling goes with the fact that you are being introduced to a new common sense, a new logic, in which you are beginning to realize the identity of ku and shiki, void and form. All of a sudden it will strike you that this nothingness is the most potent, magical, basic, and reliable thing you ever thought of, and that the reason you can't form the slight idea of it is that it's yourself. But not the self you thought you were.
Alan W. Watts
Is it that by its indefiniteness it shadows forth the heartless voids and immensities of the universe, and thus stabs us from behind with the thought of annihilation, when beholding the white depths of the milky way? Or is it, that as in essence whiteness is not so much a color as the visible absence of color; and at the same time the concrete of all colors; is it for these reasons that there is such a dumb blankness, full of meaning, in a wide landscape of snows- a colorless, all-color of atheism from which we shrink? And when we consider that other theory of the natural philosophers, that all other earthly hues - every stately or lovely emblazoning - the sweet tinges of sunset skies and woods; yea, and the gilded velvets of butterflies, and the butterfly cheeks of young girls; all these are but subtile deceits, not actually inherent in substances, but only laid on from without; so that all deified Nature absolutely paints like the harlot, whose allurements cover nothing but the charnel-house within; and when we proceed further, and consider that the mystical cosmetic which produces every one of her hues, the great principle of light, for ever remains white or colorless in itself, and if operating without medium upon matter, would touch all objects, even tulips and roses, with its own blank tinge - pondering all this, the palsied universe lies before us a leper; and like wilful travellers in Lapland, who refuse to wear colored and coloring glasses upon their eyes, so the wretched infidel gazes himself blind at the monumental white shroud that wraps all the prospect around him. And of all these things the Albino whale was the symbol. Wonder ye then at the fiery hunt?