tabula rasa

my starting point disappeared as soon as i started

the tabula rasa is a container for paradoxes, truth and belief, hope and hopelessness. we believe in the idea of emptiness but cannot find the physical truth of its existence – which means it is either beyond our understanding or does not actually exist. the blank slate beyond comprehension is equal to God (equality with God being a paradox anyway) because it is both universal and at the same time invisible. it is empty but this emptiness is named and is therefore an object; perhaps it is just a conceptual object, but so is love, and who would doubt that such a thing exists? for as long as our emotions are real to us, so too is the tabula rasa, the source of all our thoughts. the truth of the tabula rasa is that to see it, we must submit to it and in the process loose our identity. because it is hidden from us we can only picture it in a mechanical, dispassionate way, because to see it directly would render our substance void. this emptiness may be nirvana, but the doubt (that we reduce to nothingness) horrifies us; if our idealised purpose is to return to a blank, empty state, then of what consequence is our material lives, memories and actions?

[According to present-day understanding of what is called the vacuum state, it is not a simple empty space.]

[Emptiness and infinity being the same horror: “The eternal silence of these infinite spaces fills me with dread.” (Pascal)]

a machine that creates emptiness

if i start from a blank state, then this state, in all it’s emptiness, is still mine and mine alone. it is not someone else’s blank slate upon which i record my life; we would all carry around these blank slate memories from conception, all of them identical and yet all unique to us. are all these blank states part of the same universal slate, which gets fragmented every time a new life is conceived but at the same time never gets exhausted – a limitless expanse of emptiness? perhaps behind the tabula rasa is a machine, though one with no physical reality: we are born of a mechanism that mimics life from emptiness, by taking residues from past lives and constructing a new life.

this image embraces emptiness but it is a denial of the tabula rasa as a physical starting point (which amounts to a denial of a denial); the potential energy of the blank slate contains all possible outcomes, all separate and unique, but all similar in that they lack substance. originality and uniqueness can’t be resolved (in any case, how could there be an image of emptiness, when emptiness does not even exist?).

where do we belong?

our blank slate might be dirty – is the tablet scraped clean before we use it? could i not have a clean slate, so i can begin again, or at least let me read the residues so that i can learn from my mistakes? on the one hand the chance of starting afresh is taken away from me, before i have even taken my first breath, on the other i have to start from a used slate, one that has been rubbed clean of a previous life, and i have to rebuild it starting from nothing but scratches on a tired slate surface. if our minds are empty at birth, a blank slate ready to be etched by experience, what happens at death – after all this effort, will my slate be rubbed clean again and the life it contains lost?

creation through destruction

‘Nothing is new’ is a consequence of Newton’s clockwork universe, one in which the idea of  ‘new’ was redefined to mean ‘inevitable’. but not even the later realisation that in a universe built upon quantum probabilities, where every single moment is by definition dependant upon all other moments, can suppress our belief in a higher truth of ‘new’.

If we can’t escape the universe then we can certainly apply ourselves to destroying it, even though in the inevitable moment of melancholy and introspection that follows devastation, the thought occurs that perhaps this destruction is actually part of the mechanism itself – so we have not escaped after all. nonetheless, in our short lives we have achieved some kind of release from our microscopic viewpoint, in that something has been made visible that was previously hidden. through the act of destroying, we look forward to the re-invented (re-discovered) tabula rasa at the end of life, not the beginning; the scratches on the surface are life trying to rub itself out, returning to a source that might have existed at birth; which is why we feel such a desperate urge to find it again, unravelling the unconscious, in the hope we might find some kind of lasting peace.