A beautiful children’s book we read explains the Japanese concept of “Ma” as the silence between sounds.


This was interesting to me because I had previously heard the term “Ma” from an architect who defined it as the negative spaces between buildings, or the opennesses that result when articulation takes shape.

I like the seeming flexibility of the term. Perhaps it could apply to poetic caesurae–the “glow” or aura that arises between identifiable meanings. Or to two-dimensional spaces on a canvas, or conversational pauses, or plateau times when one is not visibly growing.

Had I known this term when I was writing How Is Travel a Folded Form? I’m sure I would have incorporated it, as it fits right in with the book’s exploration of liminality and betweennesses.