T.S. Elliott’s Ophelia pines or complains, “I cannot connect nothing with nothing.” I find the phrase troubling. On the one level, it speaks of nothing and nothing. The two, of course, can be connected by virtue of the fact that they are the same.The two, of course, cannot be connected by virtue of the fact that they are nothing.
Yet, there is another fascinating contradiction that is more important: If we separate the “nothing” from the “nothing” and pretend the two are different, we still cannot connect them, because we have nothing on the one hand or the other to connect with…and so, this lovely poetic line leaves us with layers of concern.
My problems stem not from my inability to connect “nothing” with “nothing”, but rather my ability to connect “something” with “nothing”, or even “something” with that which is absolutely “other” — “other” to the point that it is almost identical with “nothing”.
“All” has similar properties to “nothing”. We may think the two are opposites, but they are not. “All” expresses a totality and so does “nothing”. Much of the difficulties in life arise not from our inability to connect the “something” with the “all”, or the “something” with the “nothing”, but to confuse the “nothing” with the “all”.