The visitor

Solitude is enlightening but if it does not lead us back to society, it can become a spiritual dead end

by 1,400 words
  • Read later or Kindle
    • Kindle
An illustration of a figure in an empty landscape

Illustration by Sarah Maycock

John Burnside is a poet and novelist. His latest book, A Summer of Drowning (2011), is published by Jonathan Cape. He lives in Fife, Scotland.

‘I have a great deal of company in my house; especially in the morning, when nobody calls.’ Henry David Thoreau’s remark about his experience of solitude expresses many of the common ideas we have about the work — and the apparent privileges — of being alone. As he put it so vividly in Walden (1854), his classic account of the time he spent alone in the Massachusetts woods, he went there to ‘live deep and suck out all the marrow of life’. Similarly, when I retreat into solitude, I hope to reconnect with a wider, more-than-human world and by so doing become more fully alive, recovering what the Gospel of Thomas called, ‘he who was, before he came into being’.

It has always been a key step on the ‘way’ or ‘path’ in Taoist philosophy (‘way’ being the literal translation of Tao) to go into the wilderness and lay oneself bare to whatever one finds there, whether that be the agonies of St Anthony, or the detachment of the Taoist masters. Alone in the wild, we shed the conventions that keep society ticking over — freedom from the clock, in particular, is a hugely important factor. We are opened up to other, less conventional, customs: in the wild, animals may talk to us, birds will sometimes guide us to water or light, the wind may become a second skin. In the wild, we may even find our true bodies, creaturely and vivid and indivisible from the rest of creation — but this comes only when we break free, not just from the constraints of clock and calendar and social convention, but also from the sometimes-clandestine hopes, expectations and fears with which we arrived.

For many of us, solitude is tempting because it is ‘the place of purification’, as the Israeli philosopher Martin Buber called it. Our aspiration for travelling to that place might be the simple pleasure of being away, unburdened by the pettiness and corruption of the day-to-day round. For me, being alone is about staying sane in a noisy and cluttered world – I have what the Canadian pianist Glenn Gould called a ‘high solitude quotient’ — but it is also a way of opening out a creative space, to give myself a chance to be quiet enough to see or hear what happens next.

There are those who are inclined to be purely temporary dwellers in the wilderness, who don’t stay long. As soon as they are renewed by a spell of lonely contemplation, they are eager to return to the everyday fray. Meanwhile, the committed wilderness dwellers are after something more. Yet, even if contemplative solitude gives them a glimpse of the sublime (or, if they are so disposed, the divine), questions arise immediately afterwards. What now? What is the purpose of this solitude? Whom does it serve?

Solitude can enliven a new sense of what companionship means

To take oneself out into the wilderness as part of a spiritual quest is one thing, but to remain there in a kind of barren ecstasy is another. The Anglo-American mystic Thomas Merton argues that ‘there is no greater disaster in the spiritual life than to be immersed in unreality, for life is maintained and nourished in us by our vital relation with realities outside and above us. When our life feeds on unreality, it must starve.’ If practised as part of a living spiritual path, he says, and not simply as an escape from corruption or as an expression of misanthropy, ‘your solitude will bear immense fruit in the souls of men you will never see on earth’. It is a point Ralph Waldo Emerson, Thoreau’s friend and teacher, also makes. Solitude is essential to the spiritual path, he argues, but ‘we require such solitude as shall hold us to its revelations when we are in the streets and in palaces … it is not the circumstances of seeing more or fewer people but the readiness of sympathy that imports’.

Thoreau, however, felt keenly the corruption of a politically compromised, profit-oriented, slave-keeping society. His posthumously published work Cape Cod (1865) is, at least in part, an expression of dismay, even grief, in which he revealed his desire to turn his back on American society. Yet for much of his life, he kept Emerson’s principle close, as he remembers in Walden:
There too, as everywhere, I sometimes expected the Visitor who never comes. The Vishnu Purana says, ‘The house-holder is to remain at eventide in his courtyard as long as it takes to milk a cow, or longer if he pleases, to await the arrival of a guest.’ I often performed this duty of hospitality, waited long enough to milk a whole herd of cows, but did not see the man approaching from the town.

Perhaps the ‘Visitor who never comes’ is the man approaching from town – or perhaps it is some other, more mysterious – and perhaps less benevolent arrival. As Merton cautioned, the wilderness is a place of becoming lost, as much as found. ‘First, the desert is the country of madness. Second, it is the refuge of the devil, thrown out … to “wander in dry places”. Thirst drives men mad, and the devil himself is mad with a kind of thirst for his own lost excellence — lost because he has immured himself in it and closed out everything else.’

Karl Marx expresses this idea in another way. In his A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right (1844) he says, ‘what difference is there between the history of our freedom and the history of the boar’s freedom if it can be found only in the forests? ... It is common knowledge that the forest echoes back what you shout into it.’ Marx saw religion — and by implication, the spiritual life in general — as ‘the opium of the people,’ but the important point is the need to be careful of the dangers of forest thinking. As in every fairy tale and medieval romance, the wilderness is peopled with dragons, but only some of them are native to the place. The rest are introduced by the solitary pilgrim himself, whose quest had seemed so pure and well-intentioned when he set out.

If solitude does not lead us back to society, it can become a spiritual dead end, an act of self-indulgence or escapism, as Merton, Emerson, Thoreau, and the Taoist masters all knew. We might admire the freedom of the wild boar, we might even envy it, but as long as others are enslaved, or hungry, or held captive by social conventions, it is our duty to return and do what we can for their liberation. For the old cliché is true: no matter what I do, I cannot be free while others are enslaved, I cannot be truly happy while others suffer. And, no matter how sublime or close to the divine my solitary hut in the wilderness might be, it is a sterile paradise of emptiness and rage unless I am prepared to return and participate actively in the social world. Thoreau, that icon of solitary contemplation, did eventually return to support the cause of abolition. In so doing, he laid down the principles of civil disobedience that would later inspire Gandhi, Martin Luther King and the freedom fighters of anti-imperialist movements throughout the world.

‘No man is an island, entire of itself,’ wrote John Donne, in a too-often quoted line, but the full impact comes in the continuation of his meditation, where he writes:
every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

It is one of the great paradoxes of solitude, that it offers us not an escape, not a paradise, not a dwelling place where we can haughtily maintain our integrity by ignoring a vicious and corrupt social world, but a way back to that world, and a new motive for being there. Moreover, it can enliven a new sense of what companionship means — and, with it, a courtesy and hospitability that goes beyond anything good manners might decree. Because, no matter who I am, and no matter what I might or might not have achieved, my very life depends on being prepared, always, for the one visitor who never comes, but might arrive at any moment, from the woods or from the town.

Read more essays on , , and

Comments

  • pritikina

    Great essay. "I cannot truly be happy while others suffer." This should fuel all of us to do what we can to improve the world.

    • Norman Hanscombe

      The old cliché, “no matter what I do, I cannot be free while
      others are enslaved, I cannot be truly happy while others suffer” has an
      appealing ring and may even give us a warm sense of some sort; but if it has an
      intellectual content, it means no one can EVER be either truly free or happy,
      which seems to say the least a moot point?

      From long before I headed off to school until
      now at 77 years of age, wandering off into the bush to sit and share the
      company of both flora and fauna has given me a sense of pleasure. Not, mind you
      a pleasure always shared by those forced to pass their lives in those settings.
      To romantically believe such excursions has all kinds of ‘spiritual’
      significance can be a bonus for those who adopt various isms; but so do ANY of
      the various religions (theistic and/or non-theistic) which arise from our
      genetic pre-dispositions to want to believe in something --- almost anything
      rather than nothing.

  • Lester

    As intensely social creatures with a blueprint written by culture and experience, periods of solitude are a privilege of the socialised, those onto whom society has already deeply imprinted itself.

    But is solitude really a bridge back to society? Any spiritual growth reveals the illusion and the distortions of "society", and consequently opens different external and internal relationship pathways that preclude returning to the same place one left.

    So, solitude or spiritual growth will never lead us back to society, but the self-indulgence or escapism, becomes real only if, upon return, we do not acknowledge the challenge of having returned to a "new" place and act upon it.

    Interestingly "And, no matter how sublime or close to the divine my solitary hut in the wilderness might be, a sterile paradise of emptiness and rage unless I am prepared to return and participate actively in the social world", neatly describes a political truth. Today, one need not physically leave society to have had a sterile and non-active "hut" set up about them, the paucity of opportunities for expression and dialogue with power has made hermits of all of us.

    • http://www.aeonmagazine.com/ Sam Dresser

      For an interesting counter to the idea that solitude or spiritual growth will never lead us back to society - that is very different from Burnside's piece - check out this over at American Scholar: http://theamericanscholar.org/solitude-and-leadership/

  • jansand

    There is more to life than getting involved with the incessant storm of human foolishness and brutality. I have lived a long life, traveled a bit, and enjoyed many aspects of it and seen that there is much alike in most of the humans I have encountered. The bulk of humanity must run the red queen's race, frantically in action to remain in one position unless one is talented or lucky and can move ahead. But at my age, there is no more running. I am almost 87. I have lost a wife, a profession, one of my sons and all relevance for the bulk f the people I contact. I keep in touch with the internet but what I see is only multiple disasters approaching out of human idiocy and ignorance and I can no more influence anything than can a leaf flying through a hurricane. And what would I do if I could?
    I spend time in a nearby forest enjoying small animals and delighting in their intensity to stay alive and multiply and the infinite interactions of light and atmosphere and all the great treasures of a marvelously creative planet of which mankind seems, at best, an amusing temporary phenomenon.

    • hikarugenji

      You sound like such a kind and lovely man, jansand. You have had a lot of joy, I suspect, and a lot of pain in your life as well. I suspect you are still relevant to many people. Please never become bitter. I wish you all the best.

      • jansand

        I am not sure whether I should or should not be bitter or what that means. I trained as a designer and enjoyed my participation but am not convinced I did or could contribute much to the field. I worked in the USA and Europe and have some feeling for the problems and the possibilities but humanity does not, in general, seem to be moving well into the future with much enthusiasm for working well and succeeding in integrating itself into what the universe offers. I do not question the intense opening up of technological and scientific exploration which is driven by remarkable people and i wish I had the talents and insight to participate in that area but I do not. And the people in governmental and economic control seem to me to be strangely obsessed with the most cruel and useless of fantasies to what end, I cannot say. Unless something quite remarkable occurs to humanity (which seems unlikely) things look very bad indeed.

        • hikarugenji

          I very much hope you are wrong, and, as I said, I wish you all the best.

          • jansand

            I am with you all the way. I also hope I am wrong. I have been wrong in my life on many things and if luck is with us I will be wrong on this as well.

          • Parcos

            All LIFE is a miracle and precious. Bless you!

    • Archies_Boy

      I envy you that forest, sir! At almost 77, I have gone through some of the losses that you describe. I too have lost a profession and really have not much use for the people still in my life — except for my wife and children. The older I get, the more I feel myself an observer standing more and more on the edge of society, more and more not liking what I see. And at my stage of life, I believe I begin to see the end of mankind within the next hundred years or so. I grieve for my descendants. What they'll have to go through will not be pleasant. But if mankind ends (as apparently do all mammalian species eventually), the earth will eventually heal from the wounds inflicted upon it by us upstarts, and go on as before, perhaps to evolve a species superior in all respects to homo sapiens.

    • Joe Kazmierski

      We learn from the leaf. As we do from your words. While asking what you could do, you were doing it. Perhaps, because of your words, someone will run in the right direction, strengthened by the wisdom gained from the leaf. Peace to you. Enjoy the amusing phenomenon.

  • rameshraghuvanshi

    All our life is paradoxical,we want solitude, for. long run we bored of solitude and want companion.than again we bored with companion and want solitude.Same is true love and hate, life and death.joy and sorrow, . All our life is paradoxical it is really beneficial to mankind. If we live only one-sided we may erased long ago.We did so much progress because of our paradoxical nature.

  • juanr1214

    Thank you for the thoughtful and timely essay. My high-school students have just finished reading Emerson and Thoreau, plus a little Hawthorne. Today we are discussing differing views of the individual in nature: Young Goodman Brown in the Salem woods vs. Thoreau in his cabin. I will certainly draw on your essay for our discussion.

    • Arita

      Juanr, want to hear more about the outcome of the discussions with your students. tnx!

  • JERRY

    The exquisite passage from John Donne makes one want to tear one's hair out - if there is any left - at the Himalaya of writing, especially the academic kind, that overwhelms us every single day, tumbling out from the computer screen, even from pages of "actual" books. In my darker moments I feel a need for a dictatorship that would force the younger among us to read a paragraph like that every now and then, just as a remainder of the true height of the bar (apologies for any mistakes - English is my third language)

    • Nina

      Why only "the younger among us"? My mother and in-laws, in their sixties, have a reading diet composed entirely of pulp grocery store novels. I think they could use a reminder of what beautiful writing looks like as well as I could (I am in my thirties and a fairly regular reader of authors from Aubrey to Pope to Arnold).

  • Al_de_Baran

    Despite the surface homage paid to solitude, a pro-social bias obviously dominates this piece. Here, the instrumental approach ("What is the purpose of solitude? What is its value? Whom does it serve?") betrays the author's actual sympathies, as well as his conventional, quite traditionally American outlook (in the un-Thoreauvian sense of the term "American"). The appeal to solitary individuals is here nothing but a Trojan horse to propagandize for the author's personal values and his view of social justice.

    The author's illogical perspective ("no matter what I do, I cannot be free while others are enslaved, I cannot be truly happy while others suffer") ultimately leads to the fatuous conclusion that "I have no right to be happy so long as one unhappy person exists". The author must be a very unhappy person, in that case. He is welcome to prescribe perpetual unhappiness and dissatisfaction for himself, but not for me.

    Of course, the author is entitled to his herd values, and I am well aware of the problems that exist at the opposite extreme--that of the haughty "rugged individual"--but my own personal values lead me to err on that side of the continuum. In the meantime, the author is welcome to make his contrary case, but I am not convinced, nor will anyone be who realizes that people improve the world best by tending their own gardens, and by minding their business--a fundamental principle that someone who pays lip service to the Tao would grasp, I should think.

    • de WhoopdieDoo

      No way, dude, I totally get it now. Deconstruction is like, like trolling. Wow. I mean wow, man. Phew, now I can finally ditch the mullet.

      • Al_de_Baran

        Actually, in cases such as yours, I am delighted to come out from under my bridge to assist you in your enlightenment. Given the mix of acephalic '60's patois and '80's hairstyle, your case of confusion is more serious than most, so that makes karma points for me, I guess.

        Someone more skilled than I will have to improve your puerile understanding and deployment of sarcasm, though.

    • jansand

      This general philosophy of personal selfishness being the desired motivation in a free society for maximum benefit, something based on Milton Friedman's economic philosophy, which, baldly stated is to work only for one's self and let the rest f the world save itself has resulted in the current world situation where a very small sector of humanity enjoys all the advantages of the social system and the majority is severely deprived. It assumes that money, which is a social instrument of no value outside of society, has no social responsibility. As the well endowed sector narrows the bulk of humanity which is essential to society's maintenance and which is the basic source of all wealth eventually reaches such a low level of subsistence that society as a w3hole collapses into chaos and violence and even the privileged few are destroyed in the catastrophe. A farmer is well aware that his animals need care and if neglected the enterprise collapses. Society today is on the verge of such a collapse.

      • Al_de_Baran

        If you are assuming that my perspective is of the Friedman/Rand variety, then you are grossly mistaken. I would think that the Tao reference would have made that point clear. One can be essentially solitary and yet still cooperate with others. In fact, cooperation often furthers individual aims much more directly than competition.

        There is also nothing in my post to suggest that my frame of reference is capitalistic or materialistic; very much the opposite, as it happens.

      • hikarugenji

        With you again, jansand.

    • http://www.facebook.com/vincent.darrell.5 Vincent Darrell

      I suppose that by leaving a comment here you are "tending your own garden" and "minding" your own "business." Is it?

      If a person in solitude feels that he/she cannot be happy while others are unhappy then it may be that the person has realized that what is more likely to furnish him/her with happiness is not complete isolation from people, but living among people while trying to alleviate their suffering.

      There is nothing that says that just because a person feels unhappy at seeing one other person unhappy that a person will feel 100 times unhappier upon seeing 100 unhappy people. Unhappiness can quickly saturate. So, your conclusion that the author must be a very unhappy person because there are many unhappy people out there does not follow!

      Besides, a distinction must be made between happiness and dissatisfaction. One can be happy while being quite dissatisfied. Happiness is something one can get better at with time and practice and such a thing is desirable, but I would argue that it is not desirable to completely lose one's sense of dissatisfaction. Feeling dissatisfied leads to problem-solving and progress. A scientist might feel dissatisfied that cancer is not yet curable, but he can still be a happy person in life. Happiness maintains mental sanity, but dissatisfaction fuels action and problem-solving. You seem to conflate happiness and dissatisfaction into one thing, not explicitly, but implicitly.

      The extrapolation you make about the author being of herd mentality because he has won some prize assumes too much. The author could have won the prize by simply focusing on creating quality poetry and not by writing poetry for the sake of winning a prize. Your ad hominem statements, if anything, give the impression that there are many prizes you have wanted in life, but have failed to win (you will notice that I am using your brand of ad hominem attacks). I cannot help but get the sense that your solitary lifestyle is chosen not because you want to use it gain deeper truths, but because you are inadept at coexisting with people. In other words, rather than solitariness being of your choosing, you are of solitariness' choosing.

      • Al_de_Baran

        "I suppose that by leaving a comment here you are 'tending your own garden' and 'minding' your own 'business".

        I am stating a personal opinion, which others are free to ignore. Unlike the author, I am not advocating a particular course of social action. I assume you grasp the difference? The context of my "garden" statement is obviously the author's advocacy of activism.

        "There is nothing that says that just because a person feels unhappy at seeing one other person unhappy that a person will feel 100 times unhappier upon seeing 100 unhappy people. Unhappiness can quickly saturate. So, your conclusion that the author must be a very unhappy person because there are many unhappy people out there does not follow!"

        You misread my comment, as well as my slight attempt at levity. Nowhere do I state that unhappiness is exponential, nor does my counter-argument depend upon it. The author does not even make that statement. Again, here is what he writes: "For the old cliché is true: no matter what I do, I cannot be free while others are enslaved, I cannot be truly happy while others suffer." It follows logically from this that the author cannot be terribly free or happy, so long as others are not--and, clearly, many others are not. Ergo...

        "You seem to conflate happiness and dissatisfaction into one thing, not explicitly, but implicitly."

        "Seem"... "implicitly". For someone who accuses me of overreaching, you seem to do a lot of it, yourself.

        In any case, your digression about happiness versus satisfaction is completely irrelevant to the author's essay. Your attempt to salvage his argument by introducing distinctions he does not make is helpful, though, because it demonstrates just how weak his assertions are.

        "The extrapolation you make about the author being of herd mentality because he has won some prize assumes too much."

        Again, you misread--whether deliberately or not, I don't know. You are conflating two separate remarks. The point about "herd mentality" refers directly to the discussion of the author's statement that no one can be free or happy until all are free and happy. Such a bald assertion of herd mentality, a subordination of the individual to the collective, requires no assumptions on my part, but it requires a great deal of sophistry on yours to refute it.

        "The author could have won the prize by simply focusing on creating quality poetry and not by writing poetry for the sake of winning a prize."

        The point is not that the author won a prize; the point is that he accepted a prize--he may even have actively sought it. For a counter-example, French novelist Julien Gracq was awarded the Prix Goncourt in 1951, but he refused it. Such an act suggests an independence from the need for social approval, just as this author's contrary practice suggests a desire for such approval--which reinforces my suggestion that the author is a much more social, and socialized, creature than he lets on to be.

        That said, the point about poetry prizes is a minor one, I'll grant you, but it is not a groundless inference, nor is it irrelevant to my case (see below).

        "Your ad hominem statements".

        You do not seem to know what ad hominem is . Here is a link to a helpful guide: http://plover.net/~bonds/adhominem.html.

        In any case, my remarks about the author are not ad hominem, because they relate directly to, and refute, the author's claims of personal sympathy for solitude.

        "(you will notice that I am using your brand of ad hominem attacks)."

        No, what I notice is that you do not understand what ad hominem is, and that you are hypocritical to pretend to a higher moral ground than mine in debate, while simultaneously using tactics that you claim to deplore in others.

        "I cannot help but get the sense that your solitary lifestyle is chosen not because you want to use it gain deeper truths, but because you are inadept at coexisting with people. In other words, rather than solitariness being of your choosing, you are of solitariness' choosing."

        I cannot help but get the sense that you have few, if any, logical or factual rebuttals to any of my remarks, and therefore you spend at least half your post making speculative attacks on my character. The difference between my remarks about the author and yours about me is that my remarks are based on evidence, both from the essay and from the author's published biographical data. Yours comments about me, by contrast, have no factual basis whatsoever.

  • jklfairwin

    I think too many of us today are afraid of real solitude. The silence frightens us. Now , thank God, even if we are out of range of television or radio or even cell phone coverage, we can turn to our trusty I-pod to drown out the silence. For silence compels thought. There are a number of current articles inspired by the recently released accidental Iran hiker discussing the inhumanity of solitary confinement. One wonders if this was always the case or is modern reaction.

    • jansand

      There is a difference between solitude on a mountain top, in a forest, at sea, and being locked in a concrete closet not knowing if you will be tortured or butchered.

  • Dave

    Too many words.

  • http://www.facebook.com/hery.heryadi Heryadi Hery

    [bookmark] #readitlater #googling:iamnotanti-social;I'mpro-solitude

  • ThanksForNothing

    "For the old cliché is true: no matter what I do, I cannot be free while
    others are enslaved, I cannot be truly happy while others suffer."

    Said the First World poet writing poetry from his secluded fancy house doing zilch for the real people in real need. The rich leisure-suited white man stays true to his cliche - that of the most hypocritical creature ever to shadow the Earth.

    • JL Dubois

      t'es un vrai esti de cave, calisse!

  • Archies_Boy

    "...my very life depends on being prepared, always, for the one visitor who never comes, but might arrive at any moment, from the woods or from the town." And just why is that, sir? I would consider that a kind of hell. I know that my life certainly doesn't depend on waiting around for someone who'll never come! And solitude...

    I think that solitude becomes loneliness if one isn't careful. And one can suddenly be plunged into the depths of loneliness at the death of a loved one. "Solitude" implies — at least to me — that one is making a conscious choice to be alone, not minding the lack of company. But it also implies a condition that one can end, merely by engaging in company. So to me, solitude is a luxury that one can begin or end at any time. The lonely have no such choice unless they really work to change their situation.

  • kilchis
  • Marchelo

    This is my new reality. My previously unknown modus operandi.

    Before reading this piece, I thought myself going mad for incessantly involving myself in society's affairs (and subjecting my friends to divisive issues). Having escaped into the wilderness and relative solitude, should not my thoughts be of 'tending my own garden'? Wasn't that the whole point?

    No. I have tried and been unable to adopt that philosophy, and now suspect I never will. But there is comfort in knowing I am not alone in how I operate in solitude.

    Thank you John, for this new sense of inner peace.

  • http://thewayitis.info/ Derek Roche

    "The hardest thing", said Wittgenstein, after spending a long time alone in the wilderness, "the hardest thing is not to deceive yourself."

    • Deedee

      Hi Derek, could you please tell me where this is from? I'd like to read more.

      • http://thewayitis.info/ Derek Roche

        Ray Monk's wonderful biography Ludwig Wittgenstein: The Duty of Genius.

        I highly recommend it.

  • Andrew McIntosh

    As a lapsed activist I don't care for the writer's call "duty to liberation". That's one of the things that burned me out on the human race in the first place. For my part, I admit defeat - there's nothing I can do to alleviate human suffering, either psychological or social. That's taking things too far.

    A simpler approach would be to admit that those of us who are loners do sometimes pine for some human company, and sometimes that can be beneficial to others. There doesn't have to be a "duty" about it, there doesn't have to be some kind of "liberation" - just a few understanding words between individuals can be just enough.

  • Clea

    "Yet, even if contemplative solitude gives them a glimpse of the sublime (or, if they are so disposed, the divine), questions arise immediately afterwards. What now? What is the purpose of this solitude? Whom does it serve?"

    What you seem to be saying here is, "What benefit is my ego going to derive from my little jaunt into the woods; how can I use what I 'got there' to be more happy and successful when I get back to the real world."

    This piece would have been more interesting to me if you had stayed with your own experience rather than diluting it to nothingness with quotes from Emerson, Thoreau, Kant, Merton, the Vishnu Purana, Marx, Buber, Gould, Hegel . . .

    For an authentic, modern world perspective on solitude, I recommend, Alice Koller's, The Stations of Solitude.

or newsletter