on blankness

My previous post is maybe a little bit self-indulgent.

But the page it links to, the ‘This Page Intentionally Left Blank’ project, fascinates me.

Basically, it calls upon people to upload blank pages to the web. As many as possible.

It wants to fill cyberspace with millions upon millions of vacant virtual lots.

Why? Well, according to the blurb, the project is in one sense a work of “remembrance,” a nod to the “famous historical blank pages” that used to appear in manuals and books and telephone directories, useful for so many things: doodling, jotting, blotting, just glazy-eyed gazing.

It’s also a wistful nod to a pre-internet age: “a place of quietness and simplicity on the overcrowded World Wide Web—a blank page for relaxing the restless mind.”

I like it. Not just because of this lovely, so-necessary, so easily-forgettable insight.

But also because, in its own paradox, it recognises the fundamental paradox of the internet: that it is both everywhere and no-where, utterly limitless, and terrifyingly huge.

I remember studying ‘the idea of the sublime’ at uni. As much as I can recall (possibly garbledly, by the way), the eighteenth century sublime was theological and epic. The nineteenth century sublime was mountains, ravines, sheer and giddying views and verges.

And it seems to me that the closest we get to the sublime these days is the chill of empty cyberspace.

It’s utterly blank. Utterly boundless.

And as much as it’s meant to connect us all, it’s a place where no-one can hear you scream.

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One thought on “on blankness

  1. Here’s how some other dude came to grips with the freaky limitlessness of the internet: he set about filling it.

    If a google search (like, for example, “2010 swimsuit edition tucked inside the art of happiness”) yields no results, he does his best to remedy the situation.

    By, like, creating a 2010 Swimsuit Edition Tucked Inside the Art of Happiness.

    I love the uselessness of this; it’s beautiful.

    http://www.justinkemp.com/adding_to_the_internet_5.html

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