Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Quotes About Nothing

There was neither existence nor non-existence then.
There was neither air nor sky beyond.
What stirred?
In whose protection?
Was there water, bottomlessly deep?

There was neither death nor immortality then.
There was no distinguishing sign of night nor of day.
That One breathed, windless, by its own impulse.
Apart from that was nothing at all.

Darkness was hidden by darkness in the beginning;
with no distinguishing sign, all was chaos.
That which becomes was covered with emptiness
until that One arose through the power of heat.

Desire came upon that One in the beginning:
this was the first seed of mind.
Sages seeking in their heart with wisdom
found the bond between existence and non-existence.

Their cord was extended across.
Was there below?
Was there above?
There were seed-placers; there were mighty forces.
There was impulse beneath and there was giving forth above.

Who really knows?
Who will here proclaim it?
Whence was it produced?
Whence is this creation?
The gods came afterwards, with the creation of this universe.
Who then knows whence it has arisen?

Whence this creation has arisen
– perhaps it formed itself, or perhaps it did not –
the One who looks down on it,
in the highest heaven, only He knows
…or perhaps He knows not.

The Rig Veda (Book 10, Hymn 129)

Upon Nothing

John Wilmot

Nothing, thou elder brother even to shade,
That hadst a being ere the world was made,
And (well fixed) art alone of ending not afraid.

Ere time and place were, time and place were not,
When primitive Nothing Something straight begot,
Then all proceeded from the great united—What?

Something, the general attribute of all,
Severed from thee, its sole original,
Into thy boundless self must undistinguished fall.

Yet Something did thy mighty power command,
And from thy fruitful emptiness’s hand,
Snatched men, beasts, birds, fire, air, and land.

Matter, the wickedest offspring of thy race,
By Form assisted, flew from thy embrace,
And rebel Light obscured thy reverend dusky face.

With Form and Matter, Time and Place did join,
Body, thy foe, with these did leagues combine
To spoil thy peaceful realm, and ruin all thy line.

But turncoat Time assists the foe in vain,
And, bribed by thee, assists thy short-lived reign,
And to thy hungry womb drives back thy slaves again.

Though mysteries are barred from laic eyes,
And the Divine alone with warrant pries
Into thy bosom, where thy truth in private lies,

Yet this of thee the wise may freely say,
Thou from the virtuous nothing takest away,
And to be part of thee the wicked wisely pray.

Great Negative, how vainly would the wise
Inquire, define, distinguish, teach, devise?
Didst thou not stand to point their dull philosophies.

Is, or is not, the two great ends of Fate,
And true or false, the subject of debate,
That perfects, or destroys, the vast designs of Fate,

When they have racked the politician’s breast,
Within thy bosom most securely rest,
And, when reduced to thee, are least unsafe and best.

But Nothing, why does Something still permit
That sacred monarchs should at council sit
With persons highly thought at best for nothing fit?

While weighty Something modestly abstains
From princes’ coffers, and from statesmen’s brains,
And Nothing there like stately Nothing reigns,

Nothing, who dwellest with fools in grave disguise,
For whom they reverend shapes and forms devise,
Lawn sleeves, and furs, and gowns, when they like thee look wise.

French truth, Dutch prowess, British policy,
Hibernian learning, Scotch civility,
Spaniard’s dispatch, Dane’s wit are mainly seen in thee.

The great man’s gratitude to his best friend,
King’s promises, whore’s vows, towards thee they bend,
Flow swiftly to thee, and in thee never end.


The absence of anything; non-existence. Nothing is not the same as the empty set, which exists as the set that mathematically denotes nothing, nor is it the same as zero, which exists as the number that denotes how many members the empty set contains. In physics, nothing is not a vacuum, because a vacuum not only contains energy but exists in space and time; nor is it a singularity, which contains a greatly deal of concentrated matter and energy. So, can there be nothing? No. "To be" implies existence of some sort: the one thing we can be absolutely sure has never existed or will exist is nothing.

The Encyclopedia of Astrobiology, Astronomy, and Spaceflight: An Alphabetical Guide to the Living Universe

We start, then, with nothing, pure zero. But this is not the nothing of negation. For not means other than; other is merely a synonym of the ordinal numeral second. As such it implies a first, while the present pure zero is prior to every first. The nothing of negation is the nothing of death, which comes to, or after, everything. But this pure zero is the nothing of not having been born. There is no individual thing, no compulsion, outward nor inward, no law. It is the germinal nothing, in which the whole universe is involved or foreshadowed. As such, it is absolutely undefined and unlimited possibility -- boundless possibility. There is no compulsion and no law. It is boundless freedom.

Charles S. Peirce, "Logic of Events" (1898)

Nothing is the end as well as the beginning of all things.

Henry Fielding

This sense of my own weakness and emptiness comforts me. I feel myself a mere speck of dust lost in space, yet I am part of that endless grandeur which envelopes me. I could never see why that should be cause for despair, since there could very well be nothing at all behind the black curtain.

Gustave Flaubert

Nothingness is being and being nothingness....Our limited mind can not grasp or fathom this, for it joins infinity.

Azriel of Gerona

The only way one can speak of nothing is to speak of it as though it were something.

Samuel Beckett

The process of delving into the black abyss is to me the keenest form of fascination.

H.P. Lovecraft

Your mind is trying to make nothing into something. The moment you make it into something, you have missed it.

Eckhart Tolle

The experience of nothingness is not paralyzing--it is liberating. In its dark light, nothing is beyond questioning, sacred, immobile.

Michael Novak

Nothing contains all things. It is more precious than gold, without beginning and end, more joyous than the perception of bountiful light, more noble than the blood of kings, comparable to the heavens, higher than the stars, more powerful than a stroke of lightning, perfect and blessed in every way. Nothing always inspires...Nothing is everywhere.

Otto von Guericke

The hypothesis of absolute void contains nothing at all which terrifies me. I am ready to fling myself into the great black hole with perfect calm.

Gustave Flaubert

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Voyage To Nowhere

"Nothingness haunts Being," Sartre said. As we struggle with the mysteries and complexities of existence, we arrive inevitably at its opposite, nonexistence. We come and we go from Nothing, and in between we strain to understand what it is we came from and what it is we hurtle towards.

Trying to understand existence is neither simple nor easy, and it is something few if any have managed even after millennia of human intellectual development. Grappling with nonexistence is just as complicated and difficult. The concept of Nothing and nothingness is literally unthinkable, a maddening morass of paradox and contradiction reflecting back on itself endlessly, like two mirrors turned to face one another. Yet it is still something that we contemplate out of need. We fear death because we fear oblivion, the going back to the Nothing that we not-existed as before our birth. We believe in reincarnation or some sort of afterlife, and may perhaps be correct in those beliefs, but the thought of death being The End, that life is just a brief flare in eternal nothingness is what gnaws at us, what sends us desperate into the arms of gods or Heaven or the Universe to put it out of our minds and assure is there is only existence.

Not all of us are scared by Nothing. Simple curiosity attracts some to ponder it. Scientifically, mathematically, philosophically, spiritually, artistically, linguistically, Nothing is just a fascinating subject.

For years now I've been collecting all manner of quotes, articles, and books on Nothing in my own vain attempt to understand this vexing enigma, and I thought it might be of some worth to share my hoard, if only for diversion.

This week, I take you on a journey to Nowhere, towards Nothing.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Friday, March 26, 2010

Taking Out The Garbage

Space debris junking up Earth orbit is actually an increasing problem. At last, though, some UK researchers have come up with tiny garbage hauler satellites to clear it all up! Useful and adorable!

I myself have toyed with the idea of some sort of big Swiffer or spiderweb attached to a satellite that could catch and hold space junk and clear it away. I'm not a space research center, though, so I'm glad someone else with the wherewithal to do it was thinking along the same lines.

Now I Know My ABCs...

The Alphabet of Awesome

(Via Bookninja)

Thursday, March 25, 2010


Now that I'm an international blogging superstar with daily traffic in the hundreds, thanks to Scott, I feel it my duty to point my new followers towards some more of my favorite blogs.

Woofy archaeologist with an interest in genealogy, a talent for baking, and a touch with the animal kingdom? It's Homer's World and we're just reading about it.

A fellow word nerd, and great Canadian, Pyramus rails against the death of copyediting at Cephalogenic. He's a bit more of prescriptivist than I, but I forgive him for that.

Hail to my Strong Amazon Sister, GayProf, at Center of Gravitas! Come for the Wonder Woman obsession; stay for the trenchant thoughts on racial politics, history, and academia!

Books, Inq. is the beat of former Philadelphia Inquirer book editor Frank Wilson.

Second Order Approximations is the home of *gasp* a straight physics professor, family man, and musician. He says "fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck" a lot and has a ponytail. He's rad!

If you're in academia, especially in literature, or just have a taste for 19th-century evangelical literature (and don't we all?), then The Little Professor is your blog.

Don't know when this year to bust out your Lupercalia decorations? Rogueclassicism will tell you!

Will Clark World is the online home of legendary porn ginger Will Clark. If you're a New Yorker or plan to visit, drop by one of Will's Porno Bingos or other MC gigs.

And while we're at it, let's give a hearty welcome to a new addition to the BN sidebar family: Yarraville Paul! I love Aussies; they're crazy.

Font Breeds

Pugs are so much more interesting than Times, but who cares, it's dogs and fonts together!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

"Could You Scratch My Back While You're Up There?"

Looks like someone is posing for their equestrian statue! Look out Kaiser Wilhelm, Paco's taking your perch!

RuPaul's Drag Race

It's always so good to see RuPaul's Drag Race get love.

I got hooked on the Season 1 reruns a few months ago, just before this season's premiere, and haven't looked back. I have always loved RuPaul, but this show has cemented her place as a National Treasure in my book. She's just so smart and with-it and witty; the one liners she peels off are inSANE and marvelous and guffaw-inducing. What I really like about the show is that she actually has constructive things to say to the girls, and really wants to help them and see them succeed. She genuinely seems like a warm, compassionate person with a lot of trenchant things to say. I want Miss Ru to be the drag mother I never had! (Seeing her in boy drag is weird, though. She's so thin, but her shoulders are so broad. And she has this thing I've noticed with a lot of drag queens out of drag: their eyebrows are so sculpted, that they just don't look "right" without their accoutrements.)

So who do you want/think will win? Anyone but Tyra, I say! God, what a spoiled brat, and dumber than pile of weaves to boot. Does she like have Epstein-Barr or something? Because she sounds like she can barely get up enough energy to put two words together whenever she talks in her husky monotone. And the bitch just keeps doing Beyonce over and over again! She ain't even that pretty, I don't think. Thankfully, I do think she'll be this season's Rebecca Glasscock: totally on for too long and far too coddled by the judges (though at least Merle -- who I love, BTW, mostly because we seem to generally agree about everything, thus proving her genius -- seems to have had it with her attitude), but ultimately not really in contention.

I do NOT like Raven; she's like every stereotype of the mean-bitchy-bitter queen rolled into a not-terribly-attractive package, though I will admit some semblance of a sense of humor has recently emerged. But her cuntiness towards Tatianna really turns me off. Though I'm fine with her, I can see there being reasons to not like Tatianna, but Raven really just seems jealous because she's pretty. And the way she talked about Mystique and Nicole Paige Brooks was awful. I was so glad when her little troll-bitch friend Morgan was booted so at least we didn't have the two of them being all Mean Girl clique some more. Ugh!

I love Jujubee, but I don't think she's really going to pull it through. I'm also sick of hearing about her dead father. I try to not be cynical, because she generally seems a genuine person and undoubtedly the death of a parent she loved was a very important shaper of who she is, but last week seemed like one big "When my father died..." cry for pity to me. It made me feel jaded to think that, and I hate feeling jaded.

Personally, I'm pulling for Pandora Boxx. She's what I want in a drag queen -- i.e. has a personality and is funny. She's not afraid to look ridiculous, and, let's be honest, a drag queen has to be at least a little ridiculous, or else you're just a guy in a dress. A drag queen can look amazing, but if she can't get the crowd roaring at Toppers bar in Schenectady at Wednesday's Wet Underwear Party, what good is she? She's also a little older than the others, and has, apparently, been in the game for a while. I bet she knows what to do at Toppers; heck she's probably already done it ten times. I also love how her and Ru seem more simpatico; they both have an appreciation of camp and a sense of humor that a lot of the other girls don't. Plus, they're closer in age, so they get each other's references. (You can't tell me Tyra has any idea who Carol Channing is, for instance.)

However, if you put a gun to my head, I'd actually say Jessica Wild (who I totally want to do as a boy because he is HOT) might just pull it out. She just seems like the dark horse.

One last thing: I've heard from others that Season 1 was better, and I have to agree. The overall talent level of the girls as a whole seemed higher, and they were more professional, not to mention less petty. Also, oh how I miss "CAMEROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOON!"

And as much as Season 2 is so obviously done on the cheap, with a sponsor for everything and looking like it's filmed in RuPaul's basement, the first season was even cheaper-looking. I think they filmed in RuPaul's guest walk-in closet, and there was a certain charm to that, like one day Ru and her friends said, "We have to save Toppers! I know, let's put on a show!"

Monday, March 22, 2010

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Scott's plan to boost my traffic has definitely worked. But of course it did, since he's always right. Anyway, I want to thank those that have linked to me:

Ronny and Tito

Degenerate filth and depravity! Just the way we like it!

Zak's World O' Sex

More filth and definitely NSFW!

Fair View

Sue is the reason we love straight women: they love cock, too! And they're just totally awesome.

Male Pouch

Underwear fetish? Yes!

Roids and Rants

Erik has been on my link list for a while, and pictures from his blog are a regular feature of Skimpy Sundays, but now has linked me back, and I'm giddy as a schoolgirl. Erik's a hot Finn who writes better English than most native speakers with blogs. He's incredibly NSFW, but thoroughly enjoyable.

Glitter for Brains

Actually, Lee was kind enough to link to me a few weeks ago after some shameful self-promotion on my part, but I wanted to make sure he got his thanks anyway!

Also, though we actually traded links a while ago, but I'd like to give a special shout-out for the lovely post Damien at 2 Cents Worth Down Under did recommending me.

With all this new-found readership, I thought I'd now use my powers for good and take a moment to highlight some of the blogs I read that I feel should get more traffic.

Pop Sensation
, Judge A Book By Its Cover, Cover Junkie are among the cream of the crop, IMHO, of the cover-snark blog genre. They literally help me get through my day at work.

Long-time readers know I have a mad crush on Eric, but for you new viewers, I can't recommend him and his Sore Afraid enough. He is, I think, one of the best writers out there. World travel, language acquisition, religious introspection, aging, and general anxious pessimism about the world are his stock-in-trade, all done in the most beautiful, lyrical prose.

Postmodern Barney
is absolutely essential for any gay comic book fan.

Cat ladies and gardening enthusiasts unite with Matthew Gallaway, an author living in an unfashionable part of NYC surrounded by kitties, plants, and the George Washington Bridge.

Politics is insane. Princess Sparkle Pony takes that insanity and pours gallons of glitter over it! But then he also delves into the art world (he works at the National Gallery) and his past as a punk! Two pony hooves up!

America's Green Sweetheart, Ms. Hedda Lettuce
, is simply a National Treasure and should be treated as such. Start by following her blog.

Tired Old Queen at the Movies is simply essential viewing for anyone with even the slightest interest in classic movies.

Erin Go Pug!

Begosh and beggorah, I wish I had seen this yesterday! But who cares if it's a day late ZOMG IT'S A CUTE PUG IN A HAT!!!11!!

(Via Pets Who Want To Kill Themselves)

Nerd Nomenklatura

There are many mansions in my nerd-father's house, but here are a few of the more prominent.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Welcome BIE Readers!

If you're visiting in response to Scott's plea on my behalf (and, no, I didn't know he was going to do that, though I'm right chuffed he did), welcome! I hope you like what you see and visit again in the future. If not, though, no worries. We can't all have superior taste. (Just kidding.)

I'd also like to say what a great guy Scott is, and how honored I am that he's my blog big brother. Underneath all that rippling muscle, degenerate depravity, and smart-ass attitude beats the heart of a very, very good man with a very, very interesting tale to tell. I'm just grateful I get to hear some of it.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


An Austrian bomb-sniffing dog joined in a special forces exercise by jumping out of a plane with the other troops. He also knows ten ways to kill you with just a Milkbone.

(Via Towleroad)

Have You Had Work Done?

Yes, your eyes do not deceive you: we've had a little facelift here at Bourgeois Nerd! But don't worry, we aren't going to run off with younger, prettier readers now that we're fresh and taut. We're still the same crazy, nerdy, boring-ass blog as ever!

Thanks, kudos, and gratitude to de-delectable, de-delightful, de-inimitable Cindy (aka The Unsinkable Cindy Best, aka The Notorious C.A.B.) for all of her hard work and template expertise. Really, all I did was inundate her with picky emails; she did the hard stuff. Give her a rousing round of applause, folks!

There will be some cosmetic refreshening at a later date (Cindy's computer blew up before we had a chance to totally get the sidebar right, for instance), but that old template was beyond OVAH. Seriously, I was intensely embarrassed by it. But a new day has dawned, and I feel pretty!

Periodic Table Of Scifi-Elements

All your sci-fi in handy Periodic Table form!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Friday, March 12, 2010

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Filial Piety

I'm a total mama's boy, but I don't think I'd haul my mother around on a cart through China for anything. Sorry, Mom!

(Via Towleroad)

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Juliet IS A Stupid Bitch!

Another edition of Sassy Gay Friend! Hooray! God, I wouldn't be sassy with Juliet, I'd just straight up smack the bitch. I really don't like that play.

Monday, March 08, 2010


ZOMG, Zoobooks! Wow, that really takes me back; I totally remember that commercial (without the "funny" voiceover) and totally had those particular Zoobooks. It was the first magazine "I" subscribed to, and is the reason I wanted to be a zoologist for several years of my childhood. Of course, I also wanted to be Donald Trump. If you figure out what those two things put together mean, please let me know.

Anyway, it's still around! This makes me very happy, and not quite so pessimistic for today's youth.

Friday, March 05, 2010

The Bible Of Bibliomania

Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaant! But $275?!? Yikes. Might need to save up for that.

(Via Books, Inq.)

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Stunningly, It Takes A While To Get Through 2500 Years of Philosophic Thought

It took me exactly two weeks to finish Bertrand Russell's A History of Western Philosophy. It is quite possibly the longest it's taken me to continuously read a book to completion ever. The fact that the reading was continuous, though, shows evidence of its quality. It isn't exactly beachreading, but it is most certainly enjoyable. Russell is a wonderful writer. He has a very British penchant for the wry comment, and the occasional indulgence in tangent, both of which appeal to me. He makes no claims to straight objective reportage of the history of philosophy and the ideas of philosophers; this is as much a book of critical evaluation as straight history. He definitely lets you know where he stands, though he tries to be rigorously fair. This is bias, but an honest one, and if someone is entitled to his opinions on the subject, it is a giant of 20th century philosophy. I think this is a major part of the book's readability, since it frees him to crack a joke (or at least "jokes") once in a while. Seriously, I cracked up several times, which can't be said for many philosophy overviews. (It also tells you something about my sense of humor, but we won't go into that.)

In addition to its unabashed bias, the book is unequivocally of its time. Much historical, psychological, and scientific work that has been done since the 40s makes some of his statements and arguments obsolete, if not downright false. Writing during the Second World War as he was, he is, of course much concerned with Fascism and Nazism and Soviet Communism, and references to then-current events are sprinkled throughout. However, as I pointed out in a previous post, he seems to have been an eerily prescient man in many ways, so despite being nearly seventy years old, the book doesn't feel worn and dated.

I certainly can't say I didn't learn anything, but if I'm honest, I will say that I didn't understand much of the nitty-gritty philosophic argumentation. I forced myself not to just skip the "boring" parts, and I admirably succeeded, but my eyes glazed over quite a bit, especially during discussions involving formal logic, which has always baffled me. I couldn't really expound on Aristotlean logic or Scholastic ethics, but I think I have a better grasp of the sweep of philosophy and its major players.

I just can't praise A History of Western Philosophy enough and highly recommend it. It is a slog, but well worth the effort.

Finally, I shall leave you with a few random quotes that for whatever reason struck me.

Finite things are defined by their boundaries, physical or logical, that is to say, by what they are not: "all determination is negation."

Russell discussing Spinoza

Night is sublime, day is beautiful; the sea is sublime, the land is beautiful; man is sublime, woman is beautiful; and so on.

Russell about Kant

To formulate any satisfactory modern ethic of human relationships it will be essential to recognize the necessary limitations of men's power over the non-human environment, and the desirable limitations of their power over each other.


There are two sorts of saints: the saint by nature, and the saint from fear. The saint by nature has a spontaneous love of mankind; he does good because to do so gives him happiness. The saint from fear, on the other hand, like the man who only abstains from theft because of the police, would be wicked if he were not restrained by the thought of hell-fire or his neighbours' vengeance. Nietzsche can only imagine the second sort of saint; he is so full of fear and hatred that spontaneous love of mankind seems to him impossible. He has never conceived of the man who, with all the fearlessness and stubborn pride of the superman, nevertheless does not inflict pain because he has no wish to do so. Does any one suppose that Lincoln acted as he did from fear of hell? Yet to Nietzsche Lincoln is abject, Napoleon magnificent.

Russell on Nietzsche

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

What Circle Of Hell Should Book-Destroyers Be Consined To?

As you can imagine, I think there is hardly a greater sin to me than biblioclasm. Rankest heresy it is!