Written by JB / Art by Sophie Blank

The Damning Imposition of It

‘From childhood’s hour I have not been
As others were, I have not seen
As others saw, I could not bring
My passions from a common spring.
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow; I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone,
And all I lov’d, I lov’d alone.’

– Edgar Allen Poe

The underlying plight of individuality was once better understood in a time where it could also be better expressed. Though the concept of individuality today has been obscured by the capitalist emphasis on aesthetics and its culture of instantaneous fulfilments, which are as superficial as they are fleeting; it still stands that the word can denote the experience of loneliness, so long as it is understood in its original form: the individual is nothing but the hidden, palpitating, naked soul.

What is often overlooked in the child is both their impressionability and truthfulness; a delicate seesaw young mind where adult and its world are the pivot. There is so much to shatter and so much to harden, and when the bumps of that playground plank of infancy cease there is a fertile world to endure, where the seed of loneliness may be dropped on it by any and every hand that draws over. As to how hard people keep it in their grip is known only by each person separately: the individual.

That is perhaps why most of the greats of this world – the artists, the thinkers, the living embodiments of the rawness of the human experience – have felt alone, because when the hand no longer has a thing to clutch, it is free.

The Internal Blare of the Silent Person

“A great fire burns within me, but no one stops to warm themselves at it, and passers-by only see a wisp of smoke”

– Vincent Van Gogh

The solitary soul is a ghostly figure of their former selves, where even a walk in the deepest of cities with all its bustle and poses and route maps to familiarity, cradles of unstoppable passions that our cities are; even then does the loner thread through the thin wire of reticence that they are cast into this world with. To find oneself a mere juxtaposition to the sheerest of colour and the dearest of intricacies of one’s surroundings: that is loneliness. Remember, the ghost may roam but can never touch.

Then there comes a point where the mind begins dialogue with itself, where soon all that is known and unknown dances together in a kaleidoscope. Under the dome are the spinning rings of diamonds that unify and separate alike; the movement never stops and now when another mind meets you it is alien to the symmetry in your head.

Discovering Growth Within the Arid

‘Beyond a certain point there is no return. This is the point that has to be reached.’

– Franz Kafka

There is an unforeseen outcome of the experience of loneliness, though its happening will likely depend on the time spent in the lows: it is the offshoot of personal development, since the experience of being stuck with oneself is to get to know oneself. Stay in the depths of misery long enough and you will start to decipher just what fragments of this world are your own. Though it is a pained rasp, you have nonetheless found your voice.

That is why a hurt soul like Kafka would have said such a thing. Though his torment was strong, the voice he found within it was too utterly natural and true to his self. In the end, he decided to keep the shell unbroken, for he was already able to see the prize inside it – shattering it would have made no difference to that view, so he embraced his unbroken brokenness.

The Element of Permanence

‘God, but life is loneliness, despite all the opiates, despite the shrill tinsel gaiety of “parties” with no purpose, despite the false grinning faces we all wear. And when at last you find someone to whom you feel you can pour out your soul, you stop in shock at the words you utter – they are so rusty, so ugly, so meaningless and feeble from being kept in the small cramped dark inside you so long. Yes, there is joy, fulfilment and companionship – but the loneliness of the soul in its appalling self-consciousness is horrible and overpowering.’

– Sylvia Plath

There will be those whose robustness will shed the memory of feeling alone and replace it with those of the brighter times that come after. Then there are those who will be hit by the darkness of the chasm before hitting the bottom of it, and they might well embrace the constant of their free-fall to the point that they could go to sleep in it. After that, the old self, all the obvious joys and the old unobservant perspectives, will fade into the unknown. As to what the individual will draw and give back from this new absolute is theirs and theirs only.

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