Going It Alone

Sunday, June 10, 2018 – Going It Alone

The strongest men are the most alone. ~ Henrik Ibsen

As regards intellectual work it remains a fact, indeed, that great decisions in the realm of thought and momentous discoveries and solutions of problems are only possible to an individual, working in solitude. ~ Sigmund Freud, Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego

Great men are rarely isolated mountain peaks; they are the summits of ranges. ~ Thomas W. Higginson

No man is an island, entire of itself; 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 bells tolls; it tolls for thee. ~ John Donne

No man, proclaimed Donne, is an Island, and he was wrong. If we were not islands we would be lost, drowned in each other’s tragedies. We are insulated (a word that means, literally, remember, made into an island) from the tragedy of others, by our island nature, and by the repetitive shape and form of the stories. The shape does not change: there was a human being who was born, lived, and then, by some means or another, died. There. You may fill in the details from your own experience. As unoriginal as any other tale, as unique as any other life. Lives are snowflakes – forming patterns we have seen before, as like one another as peas in a pod (and have you ever looked at peas in a pod? I mean, really looked at them? There’s not a chance you’d mistake one for another, after a minute’s close inspection), but still unique. ~ Neil Gaiman, American Gods

We’re all islands shouting lies to each other across seas of misunderstanding. ~ Rudyard Kipling

America was an iceberg shattered into a billion fragments, and on each stood a person, rotating like an ice floe in a storm. ~ Rene Denfeld

The modern age knows nothing about isolation and nothing about silence. In our quietest and loneliest hour the automatic ice-maker in the refrigerator will cluck and drop an ice cube, the automatic dishwasher will sigh through its changes, a plane will drone over, the nearest freeway will vibrate the air. Red and white lights will pass in the sky; lights will shine along highways and glance off windows. There is always a radio that can be turned to some all-night station, or a television set to turn artificial moonlight into the flickering images of the late show. We can put on a turntable whatever consolation we most respond to, Mozart or Copland or the Grateful Dead. ~ Wallace Stegner, Angle of Repose

The trick is not to be isolated – if you’re isolated, like Winston Smith in 1984, then, sooner or later, you’re going to break, as he finally broke. That was the point of Orwell’s story. In fact, the whole tradition of popular control has been exactly that: to keep people isolated, because if you can keep them isolated enough, you can get them to believe anything. But when people get together, all sorts of things are possible. ~ Noam Chomsky

If you’re going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don’t even start. This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives and maybe even your mind. It could mean not eating for three or four days. It could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision. It could mean mockery – isolation. Isolation is the gift. All the others are a test of your endurance, of how much you really want to do it. And, you’ll do it, despite rejection and the worst odds. And it will be better than anything else you can imagine. If you’re going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It’s the only good fight there is. ~ Charles Bukowski, Factotum

I often stood in front of the mirror alone, wondering how ugly a person could get. ~ Charles Bukowski, Ham on Rye

It is an absolute human certainty that no one can know his own beauty or perceive a sense of his own worth until it has been reflected back to him in the mirror of another loving, caring human being. ~ John Joseph Powell

I have such a fear of finding another like myself, and such a desire to find one! I am so utterly lonely, but I also have such a fear that my isolation be broken through, and I no longer be the head and ruler of my universe. ~ Anaïs Nin, House of Incest

I have hardly anything in common with myself and should stand very quietly in a corner, content that I can breathe. ~ Franz Kafka

Alone, I often fall down into nothingness. I must push my foot stealthily lest I should fall off the edge of the world into nothingness. I have to bang my head against some hard door to call myself back to the body. ~ Virginia Woolf, The Waves

What you are to do without me I cannot imagine. ~ George Bernard Shaw, Pygmalion

Do not whine. Do not complain. Work harder. Spend more time alone. ~ Joan Didion, Blue Nights

His habit of reading isolated him: it became such a need that after being in company for some time he grew tired and restless; he was vain of the wider knowledge he had acquired from the perusal of so many books, his mind was alert, and he had not the skill to hide his contempt for his companions’ stupidity. They complained that he was conceited; and, since he excelled only in matters which to them were unimportant, they asked satirically what he had to be conceited about. He was developing a sense of humor, and found that he had a knack of saying bitter things, which caught people on the raw; he said them because they amused him, hardly realizing how much they hurt, and was much offended when he found that his victims regarded him with active dislike. The humiliations he suffered when he first went to school had caused in him a shrinking from his fellows which he could never entirely overcome; he remained shy and silent. But though he did everything to alienate the sympathy of other boys he longed with all his heart for the popularity which to some was so easily accorded. These from his distance he admired extravagantly; and though he was inclined to be more sarcastic with them than with others, though he made little jokes at their expense, he would have given anything to change places with them. ~ W. Somerset Maugham, Of Human Bondage

Solitude is a chosen separation for refining your soul. Isolation is what you crave when you neglect the first. ~ Wayne Cordeiro

We are all alone, born alone, die alone, and – in spite of True Romance magazines – we shall all someday look back on our lives and see that, in spite of our company, we were alone the whole way. I do not say lonely – at least, not all the time – but essentially, and finally, alone. This is what makes your self-respect so important, and I don’t see how you can respect yourself if you must look in the hearts and minds of others for your happiness. ~ Hunter S. Thompson

Laugh and the world laughs with you, snore and you sleep alone. ~ Anthony Burgess

I don’t want to be alone. I want to be left alone. ~ Audrey Hepburn

To feel alone is to be alone. ~ Jonathan Foer, Everything Is Illuminated

I used to think that the worst thing in life was to end up alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people who make you feel alone. ~ Robin Williams

In solitude the mind gains strength and learns to lean upon itself. ~ Laurence Sterne

Language has created the word ‘loneliness’ to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word ‘solitude’ to express the glory of being alone. ~ Paul Tillich

In nature we never see anything isolated, but everything in connection with something else which is before it, beside it, under it and over it. ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe