This third part of Solitude in Context features a selection of quotations – from various authors and famous figures of the past and present – that indicate many aspects of solitude and collectively highlight its value.
As a natural, personal, and essential mode of being, solitude has been described and appreciated in many ways throughout history. To complement the analyses of Part I and Part II, here is presented quotations by authors and public figures that collectively highlight the essence and value of solitude. Selected from a few different listings, these quotes on solitude are organized into themes and feature an emboldened phrase in each to indicate what I consider to be the central point of interest.
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.