has been written on solitude — by philosophers, theologians,
archbishops, poets, novelists, essayists, feminists, psychologists and
new-age inspirationalists: Aristotle, Marcus Aurelius, Jane Austen,
Francis Bacon, Pearl Buck, Lord Byron, Joseph Conrad, Stephanie Dowrick,
George Eliot, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Aldous
Huxley, John Keats, Edgar Allan Poe, Alexander Pope, the Vatican Pope,
Henry David Thoreau, Paul Tillich, Leo Tolstoy, Virginia Woolf, William
Wordsworth . . .
them, if any, knew their subject from intimate experience as well as
today’s subject. In his own time he was as notorious for his
“leave-me-to-myself” personal behaviour as his ideas have been
widespread and enduring since.
therefore I am”. Thus spake philosopher and mathematician René Descartes
(1596-1650). Of course, he put it more succinctly — in Latin.
Incidentally, according to Harlish Goop it must’ve been someone as well
acquainted with the risks of contemplation as with its benefits who
devised this anagram of cogito ergo sum: “outcome is grog”.
spent most of his childhood in solitude, as an adult our René readily
came to prefer his own company, and regularly hid from his few friends
in order to work. If asked, his furious mates might well have commented,
“Good company he ain’t”. Serious and sustained reflection was René’s
thing, not social conversation, and he usually meditated in bed till
midday. If the weather was very cold he used to get inside the stove so
he could ruminate there.
thirties he even moved to the Netherlands, taking great pains to conceal
his whereabouts (he moved 24 times while there), and did not return to
France for sixteen years. He wrote, “I have been able to live as
solitary and withdrawn as I would in the most remote of deserts.”
though, if he were living today whether he’d appreciate this extract
from an Italian hotel brochure:
hotel is renowned for its peace and solitude. In fact, crowds from all
over the world flock
enjoy its solitude.