A Brief History of Un-

Hiding in Plain Sight. -or-
Nothing Comes From Nothing.

Understanding something is oftentimes the first step in defusing its power. In making it normal. Uninteresting. You're free to feel how you feel, but I for one don't want to know everything there is to know. I want to feel compelled down a path that I've never been down before.

I want to fly blind.

So I'm hesitant, really, to even put my thoughts about this down on paper...part of the fun of having something be mysterious is keeping it that way. But.


It all starts with HP Lovecraft. Actually, it all starts with China Mieville, a noted Lovecraft scholar. In the back of a re-release of an HPL collection—maybe Mountains or Call—there’s a Mieville essay that talked about HPL's innovation in horror. Much of it had to do with the advent of the tentacle, but there was a tenet in the author's hypothesis that I found totally interesting.

Essentially, part of HPL's genius stemmed from his recurring usage of elements that were so surpassing of the readers' capacity for terror that they were indescribable. Unimaginable. Unmentionable. Etc. He—a writer—proposed to scare people by NOT writing about the scary stuff.


The psychotic chimerism of Lovecraft’s monsters is well known—his creatures are described by reference to gorillas and octopuses, to fungi and insects, to starfish and barrels and beetles and rotting cadavers in endless combination. As often as not, they are described as “undescribable.” This is more than sheer teratological exuberance, however: it is an assault on conventional reality. Usually, this impossible physiology is barely glimpsed, by characters who sensibly flee the scene. ...

(Weirdly, I had remembered this portion of the essay as a several- page screed detailing the phenomenon. I am either embarrassingly discredited or elated at my originality to find that it was essen- tially mentioned and then moved past in the space of a sentence.)



I've always had a fascination with the number zero. I feel that it says so much...describes such an awkward and final state of being that it can be made to feel mysterious in any circumstance.

It’s a bit of an Un-number. It's nothing, and yet it's something. It's an it that describes a state of not it.

Zero and nothing and none are just as fascinating as linguistic devices as they are numerically. Additionally, it may even be said that zero does not exist in a geometric sense...also fascinating since they (zero and geometry) are such huge underlying parts of our world.

I'm fairly confident that my love of zero has stemmed as an artisitic(ish) expression of angst I felt in earlier life. I had always been told that I was 'something' and mattered in the world. Always told that I was an important part of God's plan. I think that after a while of just not seeing that, I became depressed and started to focus on the opposite of that 'something'-ness...nothing.

I wanted to be nothing. I developed a mantra—'nos es nemo'—which, when translated literally, means 'we are no one'. (Later, I would find ‘Ex Nihilo Nihil Fit’ and fall even deeper in love with this thinking.)


But even to 'be nothing' is to be something...you're nothing. To even talk about the absence of something is to give it a shape...some form of reference...some address in our collective map that allows you or me or both of us to know what we're talking about. Which is pretty neat.

Nothingness, emptiness...zero. These thing are so frequently referred to as negative traits. Negative things. But they're not! They're neutral...both mathematically and philosophically. They're neither good nor bad. They just are what they are (or, more specifically, they are what the aren't).

Un is all of it. And none of it. An homage to HP Lovecraft and his poetic genius. His hustle. His fearlessness and brashness in convincing generations of readers to pay him to trick them into being scared. It's a love letter to zero and all the things you think it represents but really doesn't. It's a challenge to the ideas of right and wrong...of good and evil: Things can be above all that shit. Un is beyond it: for better or worse. It's also a personal metaphor for me...a constant reminder of how far my life has come since I convinced myself that I didn't matter That I was nothing.
Nothing matters, really.


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