The Tao and the creative power of negatives and opposites

By Dennis Mellersh

By inference the Tao teaches us that in the world of creativity it is often the negative which gives validity and power to the positive; it is frequently the juxtaposition of opposites that make products of the imagination compelling.

In music the “rests” create needed dynamic tension; the pianissimo passages magnify the power of the forte sections
In painting a picture, it is the empty space between the objects that gives the objects their shape.

In writing, what is not said or explained, can be more powerful that what is stated.

In a movie, not being able to see where the shark is in the water is more foreboding than being able to see it.

Consider these excerpts from Chapter 11 of the Tao Te Ching, as translated and interpreted by Stephen Mitchell (1)

We join spokes together in a wheel,
but it is the center hole
that makes the wagon move.

We shape clay into a pot,
but it is the emptiness inside
that holds whatever we want.

(1) Excerpted from the Tao Te Ching, as translated/interpreted by Stephen Mitchell, HarperPerennial, A Division of HarperCollinsPublishers, New York, New York, 1991


About Dennis Mellersh

Dennis Mellersh is an independent writer, journalist, editor, and editorial consultant.
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