The Totality of Nothingness

“Perhaps when we find ourselves wanting everything, it is because we are dangerously close to wanting nothing.” — Sylvia Plath

Which do you find more dangerous: wanting nothing, or wanting everything?

Uh… what?

I read the quote several times. It makes no sense.

Wanting everything is just that. You won’t take less that all of whatever it is, whether it’s the Cheetos in the bowl, the girls on the pep squad or the countries in Europe. It’s also usually unattainable, or the cost of total victory is greater than the benefits. (Well, okay, I can guarantee that I can seize every cheese puff in that bag. At least it’s not that ambitious.)

Wanting nothing sounds nihilistic. You want something, but that something is nothing. Is it not wanting to have any Cheetos (and thus allowing your sister or the dog to swipe them), or not wanting the Cheetos to exist?

Could the quote mean you’re deliberately trying to fail? It’s a clumsy way to express that.

To answer the question, neither of those things is “dangerous”. Wanting nothing spans the spectrum from apathy to contentedness to desiring total destruction of everything (thus leaving nothing). Wanting everything goes from greed to hubris to megalomania. They’re both (or all) human states, traits or personality disorders. There’s nothing dangerous about declaring that you will have every M&M in that one-pound bag for yourself. (Oh fine, that’s gluttony and you’re a danger to yourself. No one’s perfect.) There’s also nothing dangerous about declaring that you don’t care about anything.

So I really don’t see how wanting all the cookies means I’m dangerously close to wanting no cookies. Particularly if they’re tasty oatmeal cookies. Or chocolate chip cookies. Or oatmeal cookies with chocolate chips.

Musical accompaniment: Billy Joel’s albums An Innocent Man (1983), The Bridge (1986), Storm Front (1989) and The River of Dreams (1993)

I’m writing a work report right now, and dealing with a spreadsheet that’s pushing 10MB and is in three languages, with the intent of getting all the important bits into a presentation deck withing the next hour. I’m not sure why I get myself into these things. Of course the Daily Prompt drops into my mailbox, and I have to see what nonsensical drivel they’ve come up with today. So, now that I’ve responded with my own unintelligible gibberish, I can get back to the tri-lingual spreadsheet and resume self-immolation. But not before I go get myself a cup of coffee. And go digging around for a cookie. 10:00pm seems to be the perfect time to go do this. Wish me luck. Thank you.


5 thoughts on “The Totality of Nothingness

  1. Riccardo, I laughed several times while reading that…In math class. It’s a good thing we’re not doing anything today. You’re right about the quote; I can’t quite make sense of it. I’m going to digest it and see what I can make of it once I’ve thought it over.
    Anyway, good luck with the spreadsheet. And make sure you get that coffee

  2. Good luck with that crazy heavy spreadsheet of yours. I have never managed to get one over 5MB… imagine 10! Sylvia has some very interesting quotes and they come up every so often. In my opinion, this quote reflects upon a point you made in your post: apathy. In addition to that, I have seen it as a facade. You feel nothing, you do not really want anything… you are oblivious to your surrounding and suddenly, in order to fit in, you find yourself wanting everything. You want it all, not because you need it, but because you should want something. The society we live in says you’re wrong not to be fully engaged in consumerism (if we are talking about products and services) or… you will be a sociopath if you are socially awkward… Well this is one way to read it.

    Anyway, I liked your entry. I would have written something similar as both sides of the spectrum can be equally ‘dangerous’.

    1. 10MB is nowhere near my largest model. I had a project where the largest size was just over 100MB, and that model would barely run on my 4-core 8-thread i7 processor, on an SSD drive. I was forced to restructure the model logic to run on three separate 65MB files, with no external linkage.

      I like it when you’re in humanities mode! You should write it up. It’s always interesting to read things written by a different person, even if the thoughts are similar. You’re sure to have a different spin on certain things that will prove thought-provoking.

      I have a post on apathy drafted somewhere… but I stopped caring about it. 😀

      1. It’s not the humanities mode kicking in, it is the psychosocial which is even worse! And what exactly would you like me to write about? I am too apathetic to apathy at the moment too haha

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s