20 December 2008

The perils of apartness

Let it not be said that isolation brings rewards or great insights. Take that advice from someone who has practiced the philosophy of spendid isolation for a lifetime.

Isolation renders one's existence quite different from the mainstream. Barely affected by social trends, "the latest" anything, or cultural changes, the isolate can wind up trapped in a world all his own, of his own making. His tastes and preferences seem hopelessly dated, 'uncool', hardly 'hip.' This does not make them any less valid, except perhaps to the dickhead conformists which regrettably arbitrate the rules of social communion to-day.

Venturing out into the 'real' world renders the isolate uncomfortable. The 'mainstream' existence of the chattering classes is foreign and quite incomprehensible to him.

Of course, the isolate has the advantage of seeing things from an outside perspective. His different-ness makes him a shrewd commentator on the imbecility that is modern society. Treading the lonely path, he observes carefully from an external position, to which the degeneracy of the current moral climate poses clear.

But isolation has its mortal perils. The same individuality which permits reasonable introspection also closes oneself off from other lives. Any point of common reference, any shared understandings, are lost and probably not recoverable. This is especially true as one ages and people's circles of social intercourse grow increasingly set and inpenetrable. The isolate of youth thus becomes the outcast and unwanted presence of tomorrow, sometimes to the degree to which the State begins to take an unwanted interest.

It has been stated before, on these pages, that those who refuse to participate in greater society are by all logic lazy and not willing to put forth the effort. That may yet be true. But I have come to see that in actuality, it is not just a matter of stepping outside one's comfort zone. It is literally leaping across a cultural chasm of monumental proportions. It involves taking on the guise of an entirely different personality, with a moral code and sense of life completely different from the usual self. In short, a task fit only for the best of actors.

The lives and pleasures of the mainstream are far removed from the isolate's perspective. The mainstream poses itself as something large, frightening, ugly, and profoundly immoral to the cultural norms and mores by which the isolate lives.

Of course, it goes without saying that meeting people, even like minded individuals, poses a challenge which to the isolate can be insurmountable. For those who wish to change their position (and who does not feel this way at some point in their lives?) this fact is unfortunate. But to commingle with greater society, as noted above, means immersing oneself in a culture both alien and repulsive.

So the isolate comes to accept his position. He has little alternative.

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