Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Community in solitude

Catherine Malabou (2020):
We know that Karl Marx made fun of eighteenth-century robinsonades like Rousseau’s. Marx said that the origin of the social can by no means be a state of nature where isolated men finally come to meet and form a community. Solitude cannot be the origin of society. ... I think on the contrary that ... a suspension ... of sociality is sometimes the only access to alterity, a way to feel close to all the isolated people on Earth. ('To Quarantine from Quarantine: Rousseau, Robinson Crusoe, and “I”' [In the Moment blog, March 23, 2020])
Alone together. On a related note ...

Thomas Clark (1666):
But being thus constrain’d to house-abode,
And so withheld from following work abroad,
Also of all things else almost bereft,
This yet some solace was and comfort left,
That though debarr’d Society with me,
I still might have converse with Book and Pen: [...]
And such good Books I had (though read before)
I now found time enough to re-read o’re,
With profit too (I hope) for Information,
Which may conduce to practice[al] Conversation.
This studious course, to which I was inclin’d,
Diverted many sad thoughts from my mind
And thereby did that saying versify,
'When most alone, then least alone was I.'
("Meditations in my Confinement," The Plague Epic in Early Modern England: Heroic Measures, 1603–1721, ed. Rebecca Totaro)
Updated April 21, 2020: Shannon Pufahl at the NY Review Daily: "Much of the future will be forged by the strange irony of our present moment: alone in our homes or tents or hospital beds, restricted from physical contact with one another, we are strangely and profoundly together. We are bound by a common experience in new, unprecedented, global numbers."

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