A History of Nothing

Chapter 1: In the Beginning… There was Nothing.

Chapter 2: Ex Nihilo

Chapter 3: We Know Nothing

Chapter 4: Null and Void

Chapter 5: Nihil Perpetuum Est

Lucretius

Seneca

Chapter 6: Apropos of Nothing

Chapter 7: A Crack of Light between Two Nothings

Chapter 8: Nihil Sub Sole Novum

Machiavelli

Montaigne

Shakespeare

Chapter 9: Nothing Exceeds like Excess

Pascal

Chapter 10: Nothing but Sophistry and Illusion

Jonathan Swift

Voltaire

de Sade

Chapter 11: Sweet Nothings

Schopenhauer

Carlyle

Max Stirner

Kierkegaard

Baudelaire

Chapter 12: …and Nothing Besides!

Flaubert

Mark Twain

Nietzsche

Chapter 13: Nothing Old Fashioned

Kafka

Hemingway

Camus

Chapter 14: Nothing Original

Beckett

Baudrillard

David Foster Wallace

Banksy

Baudrillard

Jean Baudrillard, smoking a cigarette

The so-called “high priest of postmodernism,” Jean Baudrillard evolved from a Marxist-inflected critical commentator of the affluent society to an ambiguous position that can be described either as a bleakly lucid perception that is resigned to the omnipresence of the society of spectacle, or as a horrified fascination with the shallowness of a postmodern society where the sign has become a simulacrum that signifies nothing.

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Beckett

Samuel Beckett

In Waiting for Godot, two tramps, Vladimir and Estragon, kill time on an open, empty road waiting for Godot, who never comes, and who they suspect may not exist. They quarrel, make up, contemplate suicide, try to sleep, eat a carrot, and gnaw on some chicken bone. An oppressive air of desperation and panic lingers over all of their activities because nothing actually happens. The play ends where it began – it goes nowhere.

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Nothing Old Fashioned

Gardenna by Paul Cézanne

Like many artists who were inspired by his work, Paul Cézanne was contaminated with the malady of the modern condition – indeterminacy, which can be seen in his art. He agonized over his paintings, and revised many of his canvasses over a number of years, while others remained incomplete with blank spots. Even with scrupulous observation, Cézanne realized that he could never be certain about the details of what he was seeing and so he was unable to complete a decisive, definitive representation.

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