It means clean slate.
It’s a phrase I’ve long been aware of, since I read in in Imajica long long ago, which is likely how it ended up in this list. I was going to use caveat emptor, but that one doesn’t invoke the same level of feeling Tabula Rasa does.
The phrase in the novel was the name of a cabal of humans who were on a mission to purge the world of magic and mystical things after a disastrous encounter with it. They thought they were the good guys, which from the perspective of the protagonists, was folly. But as much as that story wasn’t about them, this one isn’t either.
It’s a tempting state of being. I’ve certainly done it enough times in my life to know the appeal. Metaphorically lit the match and let everything behind me burn as I wandered off to a new place, a new life, with the most tenuous attachment to where I’d been before. Anchored by a few boxes of books and personal items that would inevitably catch up to the next place I settle for a time, I never felt any sort of fealty to the notion of home. It’s wherever I am at the time. But that’s about as far as I get with it.
To truly clean the slate, I’d have to leave everything behind. Preconceived notions, biases, emotional baggage that I’m not sure anyone can possibly escape from, completely. I think the best I can do is to acknowledge, recognize, assess. Take note of what is working and disregard the rest. It’ll take time and effort, but really, what else am I doing that is so important?
But that takes me back to the group from the book. The notion that there are things to be purged so I can be clean again, I can start over with a fresh page and rewrite the story to suit a more palatable narrative.
Ironically, I’m often haunted by a blank page. So much possibility is intimidating.
Which seems odd. But there it is. Perhaps it’s just that I’m already carrying so much that defies category, so many stories that might never find their way to page, I feel overwhelmed and withdraw. I think about Richard Aphex Twin often, how it was said he wishes he might have stopped hearing music at some point so that he could know that anything he created came from him, rather than having been influenced by something else. But creativity doesn’t happen in a vacuum, I don’t think.
If I was truly a blank slate, what would I have to say?
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