Kelly Barefoot

Poe’s The Raven and the Powerful Fear of Nothingness

Poe’s The Raven and the Powerful Fear of Nothingness Photo cred: Meg Jerrard Nothingness. This idea of the time before or after somethingness. Ex nihilo — out of nothing. The idea of nothingness terrifies me. And I think this is a universal fear. Nothingness is the reason humans seek to fill the voids with words, or philosophies, or religion. In many creation myths, there is a process for creating order — water and air, creatures to inhabit them, land and animals and people to traverse it. A divine force that oversees the somethingness that comes from the void. The other night, over dinner, my 9 year old daughter told me I “had to watch” this video about the end of the universe. My children are unusual, go with it. “God, sounds awful” I told her; “yes, it is” was her response. Yes it is. We watched a 30 minute video that showed, over trillions of millenia, the rising of oceans, the blotting out of life on earth, the disappearance of Saturn’s rings, the fading of stars, and the evaporation of black holes. The laws of physics gradually, over millennia, erase and return the Universe to a state of utter nothingness. It shook me to the core. Not in a gut punch way but more in this nagging confirmation of what i already understood. The logical side of my brain rationalized that I wouldn’t be around to see it — but the familiar tug of fear and dread over nothingness, the same fear we have at the center of death, prevailed. I just can’t comprehend, and therefore accept, the idea of nothingness.

Poe’s The Raven and the Powerful Fear of Nothingness
Poe’s The Raven and the Powerful Fear of Nothingness