On Phenomena and Existences No. 2Here's a bottle of vodka, of the lethal spirit variety. And beside it you see Nikolay Ivanovich Serpukhov.
From the bottle rise spirituous fumes. Look at the way Nikolay Ivanovich Serpukhov is breathing them in through his nose. Mark how he licks his lips and how he screws up his eyes. Evidently he is particularly partial to it and, in the main, that's because it's that lethal spirit variety.
But take note of the fact that behind Nikolay Ivanovich's back there is nothing. It's not that there isn't a cupboard there, or a chest of drawers, or at any rate some such object: but there is absolutely nothing there, not even air. Believe it or not, as you please, but behind Nikolay Ivanovich's back there is not even an airless expanse or, as they say, universal ether. To put it bluntly, there's nothing.
This is, of course, utterly inconceivable.
But we don't give a damn about that, as we are only interested in the vodka and Nikolay Ivanovich Serpukhov.
And so Nikolay Ivanovich takes the bottle of vodka in his hand and puts it to his nose. Nikolay Ivanovich sniffs it and moves his mouth like a rabbit.
Now the time has come to say that, not only behind Nikolay Ivanovich's back, but before him too -- as it were, in front of his chest -- and all the way round him, there is noticing. A complete absence of any kind of existence, or, as the old witticism goes, an absence of any kind of presence.
However, let us interest ourselves only in the vodka and Nikolay Ivanovich. Just imagine, Nikolay Ivanovich peers into the bottle of vodka, then he puts it to his lips, tips back the bottle bottom end up, and knocks it back -just imagine it, the whole bottle.
Nifty! Nikolay Ivanovich knocked back his vodka and looked blank. Nifty, all right! How could he!
And now this is what we have to say: as a matter of fact, not only behind Nikolay Ivanovich's back, nor merely in front and all around him, but also even inside Nikolay Ivanovich here was nothing, nothing existed.
Of course, it could all be as we have just said, and yet Nikolay Ivanovich himself could in these circumstances still be in a delightful state of existence. This is, of course, true. But, as a matter of fact, the whole thing is that Nikolay Ivanovich didn't exist and doesn't exist. That's exactly the whole thing.
You may ask: and what about the bottle of vodka? In particular, where did the vodka go, if a non-existent Nikolay Ivanovich drank it? Let's say that the bottle remained. Where, then, is the vodka? There it was and, suddenly, there it isn't. We know Nikolay Ivanovich doesn't exist, you say. So, what's the explanations
At this stage, we ourselves become lost in conjecture.
But, anyway, what are we talking about? Surely we said that inside, as well as outside, Nikolay Ivanovich nothing exists. So if, both inside and outside, nothing exists, then that means that the bottle as well doesn't exist. Isn't that it?
But, on the other hand, take note of the following: if we are saying that nothing exists either inside or outside, then the question arises: inside and outside of what? Something evidently, all the same, does exist? Or perhaps doesn't exist. In which case, why do we keep saying 'inside' and 'outside'?
No, here we have patently reached an impasse. And we ourselves don't know what to say.
Goodbye for now.