2010 :: Issue 7/Fall :: Solitude
“Hello. Is there anyone out there?” I misremembered a song lyric, I can imagine myself saying from time to time, I think I do say, I think may be the only thing I ever say(s).
I, the only lonely pronoun.
I, homonym for the organ that lets the world in but can’t shake the feeling that it’s projecting out.
The missing , an absence that informs—that’s as close as I can get to rendering the strangeness of being in a body, oneself, in the world: always facing out.
David Foster Wallace said, “One of the things that makes Wittgenstein a real artist to me is that he realized that no conclusion could be more horrible than solipsism.”
If you’re reading this, you’re out there. And I’m in here. Check the byline. Scott F. Parker it says. But I don’t know if you’re out there or not. And I’m not sure I’m really in here. Scott F. Parker? A stranger. Je est un autre. This whole thing? A farce.
I is. What else is there to say? I’m trying but I don’t know where to go from here. No matter how many fragments of solitude I find, remember, imagine, invent, or steal, no matter how many ways I try to isolate the I, hovering all around the conceived, written, revised, read, is a lie with an I right in the middle of it.
My I is fragmented. How can I put it back together when I don’t even recognize the pieces, when I’m not sure if they’re from one set or a multitude, when I can’t figure out if there’s a final picture or just angles, perspectives.
I’m suddenly flashing back to a confused night when I tapped on a window for twenty minutes trying to get your attention before I realized I was standing in front of a mirror.
Oh my god. “What is art? Who am I?” Dar Williams once joked. Later, she covered a Pink Floyd song.
If there was no Other, I’d be forced to invent you.
I sometimes seems like one of those problems that I create for myself just by thinking about it. When I’m not thinking about it, what’s the problem? On the other hand, when I dig in and try to solve the problem once and for all, it sort of dissolves. Looking for I all I find is
I is a story I tell myself. A story I tell myself. Tell myself a story.
I teased my wife one morning: “You don’t know anything about me.”
She said, “I know your behavior.”
For a moment I felt totally exposed, for a moment I didn’t exist.
And then I came fully into melancholic existence, wishing her to be not only right but also exhaustive.
So I wouldn’t feel compelled to write words like these.
So even if I wrote these same words, it would be just a peculiar behavior of mine.
And I wouldn’t feel like there was an essence I wasn’t getting at, an isness of is I wasn’t quite articulating.
I don’t know what it’s like inside you and you don’t know what it’s like inside me. How do I leap over that wall? How do I have a significant conversation with another consciousness? How do I feel human and unalone?
It didn’t occur to me that I was lonely until I read Plato’s Apology and suddenly I wasn’t: someone was finally talking to me how I wanted to be talked to.
The Apology has one of the few plots that interests me. Socrates martyrs himself for his consciousness. Consciousness—the only subject that always interests me. Stories are stories because of what they say not because of what happened.
Adam was bored alone, then Adam and Eve were bored together. Said Kierkegaard. Said Markson.
“In summa: my lonesomeness is now a twosomeness.”
We read in solitude,
To escape solitude.
“Imagination—that’s god’s gift to make the act of self-examination bearable.”
Novels and poems and essays are lies and tricks and deceits—bless them.
“Only an artist understands that he or she is condemned to be free, and understands that it means…to live in solitude.”
“It doesn’t seem possible to be an artist and not be sick.”
“There are many ways to make a living. Most of them are failures.”
A writer is someone who makes a living (or doesn’t) out of being human.
Why I get lonely in groups and have to retreat to books: writers—good ones—risk getting to the point.
Reading a good book is like getting drunk and not having to worry about a hangover.
When the author you love hangs himself, a part of yourself is lost. You venture out into the world not just sad but alone—who will I turn to for help when I can’t make sense of the world I find myself in?
An author’s death is a reminder that I only ever had myself to turn to, which is no turning at all—or is just a turning in circles.
The only way to leave a party is a long walk home.
“Thinking with someone else’s brain, Schopenhauer called reading.”
All writing asserts: I’m in here.
All reading: me too.