The second part of Solitude in Context examines the ways in which solitude, solitary activity, and meditative thought are devalued and stigmatized through linguistics, thereby discouraging these practices.
In establishing a basis for understanding solitude, Part I considered it as a personal mode of being distinct from, but complementary to, interpersonal and social modes of being. The article then outlined the historical decline of personal being including the practice of solitude, citing the introvert/extrovert dichotomy and, more crucially, the polarized disparity between these two concepts in both professional and cultural contexts. Finally, linguistics was identified as the primary means of this conceptual polarization, illustrated by a comparison between the synonyms assigned to ‘introverted’ and ‘extroverted’. Part II continues this theme by examining the linguistic associations of words in the representation of concepts directly related to solitude and solitary practices.
The first in a series on solitude and solitary activity, this article outlines the personal, interpersonal, and social modes of being before discussing how postmodern culture obscures solitude and attenuates personal being.
Solitude is an integral aspect of human experience, hence its eternal relevance. By intention or by circumstance to either positive or negative effect, people experience periods of aloneness to some extent and degree. More fundamentally, a human being is a separate sentient entity prior to his associations with others, no matter the degree to which he is immersed in a social environment. Thus, solitude is an inherent aspect of life whether one cultivates it personally or suppresses it collectively.
Based on my regular practice of solitary activities (which are to be the topic of subsequent articles), this article establishes solitude as an important yet misrepresented aspect of life. After outlining modes of being I then discuss the sociocultural status of solitude in the postmodern world, specifically, the various ways it has been disassociated from its authentic meaning and demoted from its traditional value.