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Experience of Nothingness

3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  45 ratings  ·  5 reviews
In "The Experience of Nothingness, "Michael Novak has two objectives. First, he shows the paths by which the experience of nothingness is becoming common among all those who live in free societies. Second, he details the various experiences that lead to the nothingness point of view. Most discussions of these matters have been so implicated in the European experience that ...more
Paperback, 145 pages
Published January 1st 1997 by Transaction Publishers (first published January 1st 1971)
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Robin
You probably think, having read the title, this book is a complete downer. Maybe it is. Depends on your point of view. For me, it was actually rather uplifting. It's kind of like a handbook for rebranding existentialism. Or, how to reframe emptiness as fullness. (How's that for twisted optimism?)

If this quote speaks to you, it might be worth a real read:

"The choice to remain faithful to the drive to question (the fertile source of the experience of nothingness) brings with it an obscure joy. For
...more
marie monroe
i clung to this book when my father died. i was 19. it helped to know that alienation, isolation and meaninglessness could be a peak spiritual experience.
Andrew Calderon
I enjoyed this book, mainly because Novak did a good job of capturing emotions and thoughts I've been grappling with for some time now. He made arguments about democracy and capitalism, and its effects on American society, i.e., the effects it has on us morally and intellectually. This topic seems to have been in fashion during the 1970s. He evinced the importance of Aristotelian ethics in contemporary society as a palliative for his diagnosis of American culture. Diagnosis: we have fallen prey ...more
Lauren
Overall I found Novak's central argument(s) compelling and well-researched but he often lost me in his roundabout, somewhat convoluted train of thought.
Allison Tungseth
interesting look on American society
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“I need not to be afraid of the void. The void is part of my person. I need to enter consciously into it. To try to escape from it is to try to live a lie. It is also to cease to be. My acceptance of despair and emptiness constitutes my being; to have the courage to accept despair is to be.” 6 likes
“The choice to remain faithful to the drive to question (the fertile source of the experience of nothingness) brings with it an obscure joy. For to be faithful to that drive...is to be constantly expanding one's horizon, constantly losing one's life, and constantly regaining it. It is to be as alert to other persons, to situations, and to events as one can: to their fragility and terror, as well as to their obscure coherence and often veiled beauty. To be faithful to the drive to question is to accept despair as one's due, to accept risk as one's condition, and to accept the crumbs of discovery as joy. [...] The darkness is habitable...Those who accept the darkness as their lot are instantly secure, not through some newfound solidity but through the perception that insecurity is man's natural state, a truthful state, a healthy state.” 2 likes
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