Retinal pessimism

“…Retinal pessimism is not simply the failure of the phenomena of perception, the physiology of the retina, or the science of optics. Nor is it the conviction that whatever one is seeing is the worst of all possible things that could be seen. Both are intriguing options. But, retinal pessimism is something else, and it is encapsulated in the strange status of black: at once present and absent, at once a fullness and an emptiness, at once the absorption of all light and the total absence of light. Black is at once the foundation of all colour and, in its absence or emptiness, it is also what undermines the substantiality of all colour. If one is willing to go down this path, a retinal pessimism is not just about the non-colour that is black, but it is about the perception of colour itself. It is, ultimately, the suspicion that all colours are black, that all retinal activity is retinal inactivity. Retinal pessimism: there is nothing to see (and you’re seeing it)…”

“Black on Black”, Eugene Thacker, The Public Domain Review.

Poison (1991)


Poison (1991), Todd Haynes.

I think that Poison was the first film I watched by Todd Haynes, many years ago. I’ve seen all his films and I like all of them, but Poison and Velvet Goldmine hold a special place in my heart (Velvet Goldmine is probably on my top 10 favourite films of all times).

No image. No color. Just blackness

“Dreams getting worse. Usually in nightmares you see what you’re scared of. Not in my case. No image. No color. Just blackness and then in the distance, getting closer and closer, beginning to pierce some strange ever-present roar, sounds, voices, sometimes just a few, sometimes a multitude, and one by one, all of them starting to scream.

Do you know what it’s like to wake up from a dream you haven’t seen? Well for one thing, you’re not sure if you were dreaming or not.”

House of Leaves, Mark Z. Danielewski.

What silence reveals

What silence reveals, all sounds, the voices of things, the musical world… All of this becomes active, a kind of disjointed rebellion, a rhetorical device, a genealogy that legitimates the rule of the void.

Otherwise he would collapse inwards upon the great dark void

“…life was a hollow shell all round him, roaring and clattering like the sound of the sea, a noise in which he participated externally, and inside this hollow shell was all the darkness and fearful space of death … otherwise he would collapse inwards upon the great dark void which circled at the centre of his soul … Something must come with him into the hollow void of death in his soul, fill it up, and so equalise the pressure within to the pressure without. For day by day he felt more and more like a bubble filled with darkness, round which whirled the iridescence of his consciousness, and upon which the pressure of the outer world, the outer life, roared vastly.”

Women in Love, D. H. Lawrence.

The void is not an absence, it is an infinity

“As many philosophers have noted, a void as such is not possible: a void is not the absence of any content but simply the absence of anticipated content. This is why for Bergson, ‘the idea of the absolute nought’ is ‘a self-destructive idea, a pseudo-idea, a mere word’; the void is ‘only a comparison between what is and what could or ought to be, between the full and the full.’ Deleuze echoes this sentiment in his second Cinema book, where he explores the implications of cinematic emptiness. For Deleuze, ‘an empty space, without characters,’ can have ‘a fullness in which there is nothing missing.’ And the idea of the emptiness as a kind of fullness was explored in art before the experimental monochromes of the twentieth century. For example, as Paul Schrader points out, ‘Emptiness, silence, and stillness are positive elements in Zen art, and represent presence rather than the absence of something.’ Monochrome paintings and films simply carry on this tradition, reaffirming Rauschenberg’s assertion that ‘a canvas is never empty.’

a film like Blue does not use the monochromatic screen to merely posit nihilism and emptiness. Rather, Jarman’s blue screen is a site of multiplicity, limitlessness, eternity. As Jim Ellis puts it, Blue ‘recalls Klein’s understanding of the void not as an absence, but rather as an infinity.’

Motion[less] Pictures: The Cinema of Stasis, Justin Remes.


“No eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind – No form, sound, smell, taste, touch or thought.”

The Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom Sutra

La utilidad de la nada

«Treinta rayos convergen hacia el centro de una rueda,
pero el vacío en el medio hace marchar el carro.
Con arcilla se moldea un recipiente,
pero se utiliza por su vacío.
Se hacen puertas y ventanas en la casa
y es el vacío el que permite habitarla.

Por eso, del ser provienen las cosas
y del no-ser su utilidad».

Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu.

Ma (negative space)

“Ma (間) is a Japanese word which can be roughly translated as “gap”, “space”, “pause” or “the space between two structural parts.” … It is best described as a consciousness of place, not in the sense of an enclosed three-dimensional entity, but rather the simultaneous awareness of form and non-form deriving from an intensification of vision.

Ma is not something that is created by compositional elements; it is the thing that takes place in the imagination of the human who experiences these elements.”



«El concepto de vacío esencial o vacuidad (stong pa, stong ñid) no guarda, para el buddhismo, relación alguna con el de nihilidad; es la ausencia de toda forma de determinación positiva o negativa, la trascendencia de toda característica (limitativa en sí misma), la apertura total del Absoluto».

El libro de los muertos tibetano, Ed. Siruela.

Ø, Denmark

“Ø is a piece of land in the valley of the Nørreå in the eastern part of Jutland, Denmark. Its name means island (ø in the Danish language) and probably comes from the island-like approach to this piece of land, although it is completely landlocked and surrounded by meadows.

Ø is famous among lexicographers for the extreme brevity of its name: the single letter Ø.”


Ø It’s the best name for a place that I can imagine… I want to travel to Ø, I want to be at Ø.

Found at: Boing Boing / The World Geography