Herman Melville's Moby Dick: A Survival Guide to the Twenty First Century


As previously mentioned, the concepts of Spaciousness and Passion that David Chapman advocates are his intrepretations of Buddhist tantra. Chapman talks of Buddhism as a There is one particular concept that I want to introduce right from the start: emptiness. Emptiness is a concept (and concept isn't exactly the word, but I'm not sure there is a word) that has its in Buddhism.

There are many different definitions of emptiness (or sunyata) in Buddhism, but the one I'm going to use is the one presented by Rob Burbea in his podcast interview with Michael Taft:

emptiness is the realization that nothing whatsoever – nothing – has any what we call ‘inherent existence,’ any independent existence

I think (and I'll endeavour to make that case) that the recognition of emptiness is one of the most important themes in Melville's writing, particularly from Moby Dick onwards.

In Zen and the White Whale... [reading of Bayle's Dictionary in 1849, crude definition of emptiness]

Bartleby is about emptiness.

The Confidence Man is about emptiness, but in a different way.


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