The Aftermath of Reading Nothing by Janne Teller

Yesterday I read “Nothing” by Janne Teller, a Danish writer.  I wanted to read this book because it had an impact on a very close friend of mine. Since then, I had been curious about this book and I didn’t know what to expect.   A few days ago,  I finally had the chance to read it.

The book begins with the following words:

“Nothing matters.

I have known that for a long time.

So nothing is worth doing.

I just realized that.”

Just those words made me shiver for a moment.  Yes, existentialism has been a part of my life. I’m one of those who has felt like that every once in a while. Have you ever woken up feeling that nothing is worth it?  I mean, we are all going to die someday, so, what’s the point of working so hard in achieving something?

When I was a teenager, my father told me that the only thing we can be sure of is that someday we are going to die. That’s the only certainty we have in life.   I still wonder, is it so?

So just those opening  words brought back a few questions I had in the past.  Anyway, I didn’t give it  much thought at the beginning. I just continued reading. The main characters of Nothing are teenagers (13/14 year-olds).  The conflict begins when Anthon, after telling his classmates that nothing matters and nothing’s worth  doing, left the classroom and decided to stay in a plum tree “doing nothing” for the rest of his life. His classmates were really troubled by his behavior and by the fact that they didn’t seem to find “meaning” in their lives. They needed to prove him wrong. They needed to find the meaning.  And then, they began doing things to achieve this. It may have started as an harmless thing. But, eventually things changed. It’s amazing what can be done just to make life mean something, just to be someone who does something.  Being nothing can be quite scary, I guess. Reading certain pages in this book was also scary.

I won’t give you more information about the plot. because it’s a really good book and I don’t like spoilers very much. Nothing is a book  worth reading.  I must say it made a big impression on me. This story  made me feel uncomfortable and horrified sometimes.  Apparently it is addressed to young adults, but I believe it has a bigger impact on adults.

I was very upset when I finished reading the book.  How many times have I felt like Anthon? There had been times in my life when it has been difficult for me to do things because the “nothingness” overcomes me.  In Janne Teller’s words: “Everything begins only to end. The moment you were born you began to die. That’s how it is with everything.”  It’s an overwhelming feeling and a very difficult one to dismiss.  It may lead to apathy and/or depression. It may lead to nothing. And then, how can one snap out of it? How can nothing become something? How can something become meaningful?

Not only the main characters of this book are in need of “making their lives meaningful”.  I guess that in one way or another, we all are. It’s difficult to find this meaning when death is everywhere, when tragedy strikes, when we know that the world as we know it eventually will come to an end.

After reading Nothing, the “nothingness” embraced me, once more. I’m still fighting my way out of this feeling. I have never been on a quest for meaning and I don’t want that. Sometimes too many questions make us feel emptier and more confused.

I’m not a person who looks desperately for answers. Answers are not the solution and definitely they don’t provide us with meaning.

For me, there is only one way of finding meaning, of feeling that my life is worth living, of preventing the “nothingness” from eating me: NATURE.  Somewhere between the sky and the grass, I find it.  Somewhere between the songs of the crickets and the tears of the rain, I  feel the miracle of being alive.  Somewhere between the moon, the wind, and the night I become Someone who has Something to live for.

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~ by Naraluna on April 26, 2013.

4 Responses to “The Aftermath of Reading Nothing by Janne Teller”

  1. very interesting words, i think i would have to read the book

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