emptiness – guest post by John Mateer

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In Buddhist and Taoist philosophy emptiness is a key concept, yet in English it becomes either something banal, ’empty of meaning’, or something haunting, frightening, bleak – almost as echoic and disturbing as the notion of death. But its more usual, shallower impression in English reminds me that language itself might give the impression of being shallow and slight even as it conveys concepts that can shape one’s world.

From OED: empty, From Old English, meaning ‘at leisure, not occupied; unmarried’, then later,  ‘containing nothing, unoccupied’. Sense evolution is paralleled in several languages, such as Modern Greek.

Śūnyatā, a Sanskrit noun, usually translated as ’emptiness’.

 *An interview with John Mateer is the next Pieced Work Sample, online Thursday