(This is the fourteenth in what will eventually be series of 26 posts I’ve undertaken: each post centers on a topic suggested by the next letter of the alphabet from the previous post. The posts all have to do, directly or indirectly, with teaching and learning.)
No. Nah. Not. Nope. Null. Nothing. Never. Negative. Non. Nicht. Nada. Nyet.
…it struck me what quality went to form a Man of Achievement, especially in Literature, and which which Shakespeare possessed so enormously - I mean Negative Capability, that is, when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason… (Keats)
When you’re lost in the rain in Juarez
And it’s Eastertime too
And your gravity fails
And negativity don’t pull you through
Don’t put on any airs
When you’re down on Rue Morgue Avenue
They got some hungry women there
And they really make a mess outta you (Dylan)
Descartes in the coffee shop: "Would you like some milk with that?" "I think not," he replies. And disappears.
Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth. (Sartre)
...Who would Fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered Country, from whose bourn
No Traveller returns, Puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have,
Than fly to others that we know not of. (Shakespeare)
Our nada who art in nada, nada be thy name thy kingdom nada thy will be nada in nada as it is in nada. Give us this nada our daily nada and nada us our nada as we nada our nadas and nada us not into nada but deliver us from nada; pues nada. (Hemingway)
I told myself: 'I am surrounded by unknown things.' I imagined man without ears, suspecting the existence of sound as we suspect so many hidden mysteries, man noting acoustic phenomena whose nature and provenance he cannot determine. And I grew afraid of everything around me – afraid of the air, afraid of the night. From the moment we can know almost nothing, and from the moment that everything is limitless, what remains? Does emptiness actually not exist? What does exist in this apparent emptiness? (DeMaupassant)
The Tao is constant in non-action
Yet there is nothing it does not do
If the sovereign can hold on to this
All things shall transform themselves
Transformed, yet wishing to achieve
I shall restrain them with the simplicity of the nameless
The simplicity of the nameless
They shall be without desire
Without desire, using stillness
The world shall steady itself (Tao Te Ching, 37)
What you know you know.
What you know you don't know.
What you don't know you know.
What you don't know you don't know.
Before we begin: the blank page, the empty canvas, silence. Breath. Attention.
One asks not only for the courage of his convictions, but for the courage of his doubts, in a world of dangerously passionate certainties. (Eric Sevareid)Where did you go? Out. What did you do? Nothing.
Emptiness which is conceptually liable to be mistaken for sheer nothingness is in fact the reservoir of infinite possibilities. (D.T. Suzuki)
True words are not beautiful
Beautiful words are not true
Those who are good do not debate
Those who debate are not good
Those who know are not broad of knowledge
Those who are broad of knowledge do not know (Tao Te Ching, 81)