The drama of being a loser in the sex selection sweepstakes reveals a confounding irony that is at the center of Houellebecq’s work. You might have been abandoned by your mother (as most of his characters are), indifferently raised, humiliated by your peers; you might be temperamentally aggressive and hostile and feel very little kinship with or interest in most people you meet; you might find true contentment only when you’re alone. In short, you might be thoroughly unsuited for human society. But this will in no way relieve you of the need for other people. You will suffer unbearably from your loneliness, and you will not have any way to fix it.
- Elaine Blair
God knows most of us Americans hate being alone. This may explain why our popular culture is the best in the universe. We keep pouring the cream of our genius and love into producing the antiloneliness serums that our movies, pop songs, and television shows. We take nothing more seriously than our fun. Well, all of this has been said many times before, often by pundits displaying that other familiar compulsion, to make people feel bad about what makes them human and sociable in whatever way their world allows. Loneliness is no sin. It is “an infinitely gentle, infinitely suffering thing” in need of infinite consolation.
– Peter Schjeldahl
Learn to love solitude, to be more alone with yourselves. The tragedy of today’s young people is that they try to unite on the basis of carrying out noisy and aggressive actions so as not to feel lonely, and this is a sad thing. The individual must learn from childhood to be on his own, for this doesn’t mean to be lonely: it means to not get bored with oneself, because a person who finds himself bored when he is alone, it seems to me, is a person in danger.
- Andrei Tarkovsky on being asked, ‘What would you like to tell young people?’
Loneliness, which is really lack of love, is the pain of being unable to be present, makes us inhabit our bodies differently. At its most radical, loneliness’ pain relates to a missing presence beyond any comprehension or memory, as the speech of what feels the unspeakable. Where it does not, or rather cannot, remain trapped in the self-soothing, heterosexual loops intended for it, it may become a question of political engagement.
- C.E., Undoing Sex: Against Sexual Optimism
Loneliness is the deal. Loneliness is the last great taboo. If we don’t accept loneliness, then capitalism wins hands down. Because capitalism is all about trying to convince people that you can distract yourself, that you can make it better. And it ain’t true.
So often loneliness comes from being out of touch with parts of oneself. We go searching for those parts in other people, but there’s a difference between feeling separate from others and separate from oneself.
- Diane Ackerman
Suicide is a crime of loneliness, and adulated people can be frighteningly alone. Intelligence does not help in these circumstances; brilliance is almost always profoundly isolating.
- Andrew Solomon
I have been trying, for some time now, to find dignity in my loneliness. I have been finding this hard to do. It is easier, of course, to find dignity in one’s solitude. Loneliness is solitude with a problem.
- Maggie Nelson