Books · Writing fiction

I’ve got plenty of Nothing

Not lower-case nothing. Upper-case, big-N Nothing.

Stanislaw Lem explained the difference between the two in his masterpiece, The Cyberiad: Fables for a Cybernetic Age.

“Machine, do Nothing!”

The machine sat still. Klapaucius rubbed his hands in triumph, but Trurl said:

“Well, what did you expect? You asked it to do nothing, and it’s doing nothing.”

“Correction: I asked it to do Nothing, but it’s doing nothing.”

“Nothing is nothing!”

“Come, come. It was supposed to do Nothing, but it hasn’t done anything, and therefore I’ve won. For Nothing, my dear and clever colleague, is not your run-of-the-mill nothing, the result of idleness and inactivity, but dynamic, aggressive Nothingness, that is to say, perfect, unique, ubiquitous, in other words, Nonexistence, ultimate and supreme”

So anyway, since Christmas morning, I’ve been the proud owner of a NOTEBOOK OF NOTHINGS.


Not a notebook of nothings. Some might look at the blank pages and see nothing. But each page is, in fact, a carefully rendered depiction of Nothing.

Turn a page and you might find a depiction of a snowman’s heart. An albino black hole. What Madonna won’t do.

It’s hard to write a novel when you start with a blank page, just a whole lot of nothing wanting to be something. But when that page is rife with Nothing, the ideas flow freely.


So I’m having Nothing but fun, constructing my next novel. Set in 1970,  you could call it an historical mystery, if you’re willing to think about 1970 as history. You might consider it a literary mystery, but who the hell knows what that is. It’s probably a police procedural, minus all of the procedures developed in the last 45 years. Mostly, it’s the story of a man who’s been accused of hiring a hitman to murder his wife.  So far there have been cameo appearances by Richard Nixon, Spiro Agnew, Willie Mays and Fudgy the Whale. In a few weeks, I expect Janis Joplin to show up.

And Nothing’s plenty for me.


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