The Holy of Holies: 
On the Constituents of Emptiness 

Mitchell Stephens     Professor of Journalism     New York University

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BlueNight says:

This was the big thought that kicked off a large portion of my journey with God. (I knew Him, and had been saved a long time before, but we had not yet journeyed together.)

The opposite of God is Nothing. Of itself, it knows nothing, has no power, doesn’t have a goal or purpose, and doesn’t care for anything. When it gains power, it squanders it; when it is worshipped, it doesn’t care.

In its pure form, it doesn’t exist. Purity is, however, a higher state than impurity, and it, along with creation, fell. The mixtures are worse than the Nothing.

The only good lie is one that is not told; a mixture of truth and Nothing is either a lie that is told, or a truth that is not told.

The only good tool is one that works. A mixture of tool and nothing is either a broken tool, or a tool misused.

James says:

Isn’t this nothingness at the basis of existence in some sense more an acknowledgment that there is something underlying reality that cannot be represented. An empty sanctuary could signify that at the center of the temple cult there is a reality, God in this case, that cannot be represented. I’m thinking of Lacan here. Representation always implies that which cannot be represented.

mcvicker says:

Glad you have the courage to invoke Heidegger. You’ll get a lot of grief for it, of course. What you say here is provocative…though I can’t agree with you that the Nothing is ‘the opposite of God.’ The Nothing is also not ‘emptiness’ — be wary of conflating such terms. Perhaps not for Friday’s seminar but for the book, I urge you to think about the ‘Language’ essay (see _Poetry, Language, Thought_, 187-210) because I think what you’re striving for, particularly here and in the sections surrounding this one, on to something quite important. E.g.:

“Language speaks. … The speaking names… What is this naming? … This naming does not hand out titles, it does not apply terms, but it calls into the word. The naming calls. Calling brings closer what it calls. However this bringing closer does not fetch what is called only in order to set it down in closest proximity to what is present, to find a place for it there. The call does indeed call. Thus it brings the presence of what was previously uncalled into a nearness. But the call, in calling it here, has already called out to what it calls. Where to? Into the distance in which what is called remains, still absent…” (198).