Halatsis, “Nothing” (2008)

In an effort to approach the notion of “nothing” we acknowledge from the very start the difficulty of the endeavor: it actually is a non-concept, a non-definition or a negation, a fact that makes the actual approach itself impossible.

It’s like a ghost chase; we can define “nothing” verbally, but any effort to grasp it beyond its articulated form ends in failure. Nonetheless, the effort itself to embrace it coincides with an infinite procedure leading to tangible results in thought. Although insubstantial ontologically, “nothing” seems to produce indirect results that are not visible right from the start.

Albeit it appears as a line in the horizon that can never be approached, it constantly creates the space where thought traverses in a procedure without a subject and without an end. And this, because every end is in reality the emerging gaze on a new horizon.

The latter is better understood through the Althusserian notion of the displacement of the null space. The ontologically null space constitutes the horizon of a philosophical path resulting to a constant transition this horizon in a way that finally leaves nothing but the naked trace of the process of the displacement itself, i.e. nothingness. Thus, and the only thing left to occur is the beginning of a new procedure of displacement.

Moreover, this ontologically insubstantial notion conceals the unpredictability of the procedure of its approach. “Nothing” imposes an infinite number of possible approaches, of processes intertwined between each other which generate other approaches: original, random, new non-existent previously paths. Randomness is embodied in the procedure in a way that on the one hand we have the apparent, material course of this process and on the other the direction itself, since the form it will acquire in a specific moment is unknown.

Thus, it seems that “nothing” can generate approaches or movements within the frame of a philosophical paradox: while it actually is a non-concept, an absence or an incapability of any definition, any creation, it creates itself a phenomenologically infinite number of possibilities and routes.

At this point some things must be clarified: when talking about the Althusserian concepts of the unpredictable and the null space it is absolutely necessary to always have in mind that these constitute mainly political notions, i.e. theses, battle positions within a philosophical progression which-again according to Althusser- constitute a procedure of a class struggle in the theoretical field or battlefront. If the notions are conceived outside this frame, the result would be a defeat-the displacement of the null space with a negative attribute. It would be more preferable for the positioning of notions such as “nothing” to take place in such a way that their political aspects would be apparent: the procedure already from the beginning reveals the terms of its course. As Althusser writes on Spinozian thought or on Machiavelli, that the first begins with a “because” (Habemus enim ideam veram: it is just because we have a true idea) without prevarications, while the second “surrounds the castle”.

An example would be the image of the meaninglessness of philosophy: its realm appears as a serene spiritual kosmos cut off from the rest of the world where investigation takes place with the terms of an endless dialogue seeking to discover an abstract truth. Althusser demonstrated himself that within this realm the social war is ongoing, closely linked to all social conflicts and contradictions overarching societies, while its outcome has a direct impact on the ideological correlation of powers which reproduce these social contradictions. Is it possible that this could be also taking place in the battlefront of art?

By H. Moudouris
Published at Cheapart Website