Thanks to a link posted by someone I follow on Micro.blog, I came across The Dark Feels Different in November, which introduced me to the concept of ma:
Ma loosely translates to negative space, to emptiness, vacancy, blankness. It is a pause, in time, space, music, conversation. “Ma makes nothingness palpable and tangible,” writes Ando. It’s a space ripe with an atmosphere of uncertainty, suspension, and possibility. The Japanese character consists of the graphic for door and for moon, suggesting “a door through the crevice of which the moonshine peeps in,” as the Swedish linguist Bernhard Karlgren defines it in his Analytic Dictionary of Chinese and Sino-Japanese. Ma is the crack that lets the light in.
The candlelight makes one better know the dark, the shadows, the spaces unseen. And the dark—the hollows and corners behind the curtains, above the rafters, the places where dimness pools—helps one better know the light.
Likewise, ma makes one aware of the presence of absence. It’s the gap where the moonlight sifts through; it’s the space between two slate stones that guide your steps along a path; it’s the hollow where ghosts gather; it’s the pause in conversation, the ripe silence of the unspoken.
It’s worth your time.