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Being a Description of the World

By Eli Siegel


Existence is all things that are and all things that are not, taken together.

     Everything is and is not. A table is a table because of what it is and what it is not. The fact that a table is not a flower, or a mountain, or a bed, is part of what it is. Everything can be seen as not being. Everything can be seen as nothing. The nothing aspect of a thing is part of that thing.

     Everything, in so far as it is nothing, can be seen to be all things: for all things can be seen as nothing. This means that something is a rhythm between nothing and everything.

     Existence as a whole is nothing, something, and everything, at once.

     The way we could feel the full existence of a flower is to feel all the things that are not a flower, and then, feeling existence as a whole, leave out those things. The utmost in comprehensive negation of what a thing is not, is necessary to feel what a thing is.

     This is true for ourselves, too. We get a sense of ourselves by leaving out all the things we are not, without feeling these things. If we were to leave them out, feeling these things, we would get a whole sense of ourselves.

     For a thing to exist is for it to be what it is, nothing, and everything. To know that a thing exists is to see that thing wholly this way. To know that we exist means this, too. It can be said that the purpose of life is to find out that we exist. A thing is everything that the rest of the world isn't. It is everything that the rest of the world is; for it to know that it exists, it must know this.


© 1945 by Eli Siegel

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