Art needs solitude

“It takes the courage to be there. You run into your own pettiness. Your own cowardice. You run into all kinds of ugly sides of yourself.”

There is a history of art and solitude. One cannot exist without the other. A solitary man does not necessarily produce art but, for an artist, solitude is necessary to get closer to his personal truth, to know himself, to be inspired. An interesting article suggests that solitude does not inflict only pain and feelings of anxiety and loneliness. There is some beauty in solitude which cannot be found when surrounded by people, noise, reality.

“We can separate artistic pain, the experience of feeling deeply, from leading a painful life. One is not a requirement for the other. What's interesting about Bergman—he shows you can use your demons to pull your way through life. You can use them for good things instead of trying to let them destroy you.”

For some artists, the solitude creates a phase of spiritual awakening only to take its toll on the artist's life later as is the case with Vincent van Gogh.

Charles Baudelaire, the quintessential artist who, one could argue separated painful life from the experience of feeling deeply [he had many problems in his lifetime, various [sexual and drug] addictions, died of a venereal disease but also lived life in its fullest capacity] admits that solitude is a requirement, when alone or surrounded by people. In A heart Laid Bare Baudelaire states "As early as childhood, a feeling of solitude in spite of my family - and especially among friends, the feeling of an eternally solitary fate..and yet, a very marked taste for life and pleasure."

One of Baudelaire's strongest points - and one I tend to agree with wholeheartedly - is the idea of men [mis]taking fear of solitude for love, lack of identity for life.

"Immovable desire of prostitution in the heart of man, whence springs his horror of solitude. — He wishes to be two. The genius wishes to be one, hence alone. Glory is in remaining one, and in prostituting one's self in a particular way."

"It is that horror of solitude, the need of forgetting his ego in the outer flesh, that man nobly calls the need of love."

In his foreword for "The art of Loving" by Erich Fromm The Art of Loving (Classics of Personal Development), Peter Kramer writes on the problematic of identity and love: "We are social creatures made anxious by our separatedness. The culture offers false and easy means for addressing our anxiety - through sameness. It invites us to consume the same goods, work at the same jobs, adopt the same goals - defining ourselves through conformity and insignificant nuances of difference. But if we lack the courage to be individuals, we will never achieve love since "love is union under the condition of preserving one's integrity"

CROWDS (from Flowers of Evil and Other Works / Les Fleurs du Mal et Oeuvres Choisies (Dover Dual Language French))

By Charles Baudelaire

It is not given to every man to take a bath of multi- tude: to play upon crowds is an art; and he alone can plunge, at the expense of humankind, into a debauch of vitality, to whom a fairy has bequeathed in his cradle the love of masks and disguises, the hate of home and the passion of travel.

Multitude, solitude: equal terms mutually convertible by the active and begetting poet. He who does not know how to people his solitude, does not know either how to be alone in a busy crowd.

The poet enjoys this incomparable privilege, to be at once himself and others. Like those wandering souls that go about seeking bodies, he enters at will the personality of every man. For him alone, every place is vacant ; and if certain places seem to be closed against him, that is because in his eyes they are not worth the trouble of visiting.

By Charles Baudelaire

A PHILANTHROPIC journalist once said to me that solitude is harmful to man, and, to support his thesis, he cited — as do all unbelievers — words of the Christian Fathers.

I know that the Demon gladly frequents parched places, and that the spirit of murder and lechery is marvelously inflamed in solitude. But it is possible that solitude is dangerous only to the idle, rambling soul, who peoples it with his passions and his chimeras."

It is certain that a babbler, whose supreme pleasure consists in speaking from a pulpit or a rostrum, would be taking great chances of going stark mad on the island of Crusoe. I do not demand of my journalist the courageous virtues of Robinson, but I ask that he do not summon in accusation lovers of solitude and mystery.

Khalil Gibran, the author of the literary and philosophical treasure that is "The Prophet" talks about the inextricable link between solitude, thought, and truth and their direct enemies - excessive talking and socializing - in the excerpt entitled "On Talking."

You talk when you cease to be at peace with your thoughts;

And when you can no longer dwell in the solitude of your heart you live in your lips, and sound is a diversion and a pastime.

And in much of your talking, thinking is half murdered.

For thought is a bird of space, that in a cage of words many indeed unfold its wings but cannot fly.

There are those among you who seek the talkative through fear of being alone.

The silence of aloneness reveals to their eyes their naked selves and they would escape.

And there are those who talk, and without knowledge or forethought reveal a truth which they themselves do not understand.

And there are those who have the truth within them, but they tell it not in words.

In the bosom of such as these the spirit dwells in rhythmic silence.

When you meet your friend on the roadside or in the market place, let the spirit in you move your lips and direct your tongue.

Let the voice within your voice speak to the ear of his ear;

For his soul will keep the truth of your heart as the taste of the wine is remembered

When the colour is forgotten and the vessel is no more.

  • Sier Pino Vaso

    Let everything happen to you
    Beauty and terror
    Just keep going
    No feeling is final (Rainer Maria Rilke)

    • joravaso

      Rilke believed that was the only way to live, letting rather than fighting.