Locus Solus – A Serenity in Solitude?
‘…solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant.’
On Sunday I had a rather heated debate with a friend and he proceeded to quote Tacitus / Byron, as above, ‘He makes a solitude, and calls it — peace.’ This made me think hard about a rather onerous decision I made a few months ago: To find and live in perfect solitude. I am, however, still in the ‘finding stage’. But is my friend right? Is my self-imposed solitude, emotional not physical – the latter would require my being a hermit and that’s impossible in my lines of work – anyway, is my emotional solitude a cowardly ‘hedgehog’s dilemma‘ approach to my problems. Will self-imposed introversion and isolationism really help me recover from my mental health problems or make them worse. Can I forgo all emotional, ‘meaningful’ (whatever this means), human contact and still function; or do social beings require others?
I’m of the mind that most well-minded people will make the right decisions about how the live their lives, instinctive self-preservation and whatnot. By well-minded, I mean that their decisions are influenced by rational and logical thoughts (decisions influenced by drugs and alcohol and, to some extent, love and religion are not what I consider rational or logical).
When I think about myself, I realise that I’ve always been a cerebral person and already live a rather hermetic life. The cynics among you might argue that my blogging and twitter presence proves otherwise and I might agree. However, as I wrote in my first post, I am addressing you as spectators rather than recipients. I have been called narcissistic: twitter and blog writing are, a fortiori, the most narcissistic things you can do online – besides modelling. I write for myself, yes, but I do like intellectual debate and discussion. Similarly, I can direct a fashion shoot, conduct an opera, perform an interview, attend a ball and chair a debate without getting emotionally involved with the people I interact with. The fact that I do these things does not nullify my seeking perfect solitude. The most pertinent allusion I have would be a stranger asking me for directions to a place I happen know. I see no reason to elaborate.
On @MHChat last Wednesday there was an interesting discussion on ‘loneliness’, and in the most impertinent of tautologies quite a few people constantly confused solitude with loneliness. It is possible to feel emotional loneliness in a crowd. I shall give a personal example: My grandmother. Héloïse d’Albert, was an interesting creature. Bipolar, like me, from the age of nineteen as a millionaire socialite to her late sixties as a nearly-bankrupt salonnière (aut delectare aut prodesse est) Héloïse had, in her own words, ‘been living in perfect loneliness whilst chasing perfect solitude.’ Many a time she’d say to me, ‘We’re very similar you and I, everything is in here *she’d tap her heart* but we don’t know what to do so it all goes here *she’d tap her head* and we lock it away.’
I think she was both right and wrong. I am a very emotional, and overly melodramatic, individual but a lot of what others perceive of me is a facade. Those who, unfortunately, get emotionally close do recoil. For the longest time, especially in boarding school, I thought I had no choice but to pretend that I was a ‘normal’ person, but I was just lying to myself. But I also thought that I was not worthy of the love of others because I didn’t understand anything – myself included. I believed I was incapable of doing anything good for anybody else, was a horrible person, dishonest and a coward.
When one lives believing that all they will ever do is hurt other people, one begins thinking that it’d be better if they nothing at all. This is what Héloïse believed. The difference between both of us, however, was that whilst she felt lonely and in this loneliness was haunted by a never dissipating despair, I wasn’t lonely. I have only ever felt loneliness twice in my life: when Héloïse died and when Elena, my ex-girlfriend, broke up with me. Maybe it’s the venlaflaxine and quetiapine, or maybe it’s the way I am wired; but after some extensive compartmentalisation, crying, anger, confusion I have been able to dissipate that almost pervasive sorrow and move on. My grandmother could never do this and as a result could never have found her ‘perfect solitude’. She was and always had been the sort of person who intrinsically needed the validation of others’ emotions. She was trying to run away from who she really was. I, on the other hand, am embracing who I really am.
Will I ever attain perfect solitude and in attaining it gain happiness? No. I don’t think I shall ever be happy and, resultantly, have no wish to chase it. Having realised this I believe I have made a large leap toward a serenity in solitude: perfect.
Let me have a faithful account of all that concerns you; I would know everything, be it ever so unfortunate. Perhaps by mingling my sighs with yours I may make your sufferings less, for it is said that all sorrows divided are made lighter.