Martin Demant Frederiksen discusses nothing.
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Why is there something rather than nothing? Wouldn’t nothing have been much simpler than something? But can nothing actually exist? Has there, in fact, always been something? Although answers to the vast, unfathomable mysteries of existence seem as distant as ever, we remain as compelled to seek them as countless generations before us. Indeed, as a species, we seem unable to truly thrive without some overarching purpose.
However, in a challenge to this eternal existential quest, Frederiksen pauses to ask ‘What goes missing when we look for meaning?’ In seeking some ultimate purpose to life, the Universe, and everything, do we devalue or even deny the present moment, the instant immediacy of where we are right now? Furthermore, given the strife and conflict caused by competing world-views – religious, secular, spiritual, scientific, and more – is there something to be said for an acceptance of futility, an embrace of meaninglessness, or even the active negation of any and all notions of cosmic teleology? After all, denial of meaning needn’t necessarily mean nihilism.
Like so many civilizations of the past, we live in a time of crisis. Contemporary culture is caught in a corpse-strewn cul de sac, a war zone of competing cosmologies, ideologies, and dogma. There are two ways out of this destructive dead end – turn back or break through – but no guarantee of either. One thing however is certain; what we affirm or deny in thought or in deed – individually and collectively – has an affect. Even if we choose not to decide, we still have made a choice.
Martin’s latest book is An Anthropology of Nothing in Particular.
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