Exercises in Loneliness. Unfinished Essays - Delvaux JulieExercises in Loneliness. Unfinished Essays
Exercises ináLoneliness is aácollection ofáphilosophical essaysáon aácommon topic ofásolitude that started as aáseries ofáblog posts.
źThere is something romantic and legendary about loneliness because every knight searches for the Holy Grail on hisáown. Even the best fairytales are born outáofáan extreme loneliness. So the secret is toástop asking toábe saved and toástart saving others. Before longáyou will see how your own loneliness subsidesáľ like aátide that runs away with sunrise╗.
ęáJulie Delvaux, 2015
ęáJulie Delvaux, ŔŰŰ■˝˛Ó÷ŔŔ, 2015
ĐţšńÓÝţ ÔáŔÝ˛ňŰŰňŕ˛ˇÓŰŘÝţÚ ŔšńÓ˛ňŰŘ˝ŕţÚ ˝Ŕ˝˛ňýň Ridero.ru
For my grandmother (1924Ś2014) and my mother
This is my first book. Like some ofáthe first books, itĺs taken aáwhile toáwrite. The genre ofáźunfinished essays╗ meant for quite aálong time that I was writing occasional posts on my blog without aáspecific goal toáturn them into aácollection. Then it became obvious that it was possible toáassemble them into aácollectionů and just about that time I gradually began toálose interest ináthe topic.
Regardless ofácircumstances, the essays are now ready toáface the world. It consists entirely ofámy essays and poems. Ináwriting and then assembling the essays I went from irregular sketches on the topic ofáloneliness and solitude toáaámore concerted effort toáshare my views ináthe hope that someone may find them useful and benefit from my opinion or experience. Ofácourse, this method can also be regarded as aámeans toácombat loneliness. However, I genuinely believe there is something toábenefit from ináthese texts. Iĺve got aálong way toágo toáreach the age and experience ofáCasanova, but on occasion ofáthese essays I share the same attitude toáletting others see into my inner world: my life is my subject, and my subject is my life.
Throughout the book you will find references toápeople whose work and thought has influenced, supported and developed me, so I wonĺt mention them here. And I donĺt mention byáname anyone who participated inácreating the experiences that prompted me toáwrite the essays. Some ofáthem are physically gone, others I donĺt want toáname for aáreason. Strictly speaking, although I couldnĺt help drawing on some ofámy personal experiences, I never considered them as mine only. They were mine as far as my own circumstances were concerned, but they could be yours, too. The way I look at it, I described some typical situations that one ofámy readers may have experienced.
I want toádedicate this book toámy family. I published enough work for my grandma toásee her prediction coming true, for I have become aáwriter. But I never managed toácomplete aábook for her toáknow about it, at least. My mother will undoubtedly be proud. I owe her aábigger part ofáthe home library and an undying support ofámy efforts and projects, even if it doesnĺt always feel this way. (I know she wants things toábe beautiful and perfect, thatĺs why). Last but not least, I shall follow ináthe footsteps ofáthose eccentric academics who thank their pets. I am very thankful toámy pets for blissfully sleeping, while I was finishing the collection, and proving me right: loneliness subsides when you help and share your time and effort with those who need it. This is why, after some thinking, I added aáshort story, Felina Petrarcae, at the end ofáthe book. It wasnĺt composed as aácomplement toáExercises ináLoneliness, but as it touches upon aásimilar subject, I thought it was aáfitting addition.
ááááJulie Delvaux, Moscow, Februaryá2015
I am writing aáseries ofáessays, Exercises ináLoneliness. The title came from out ofáthe blue, but I like its ambiguity, or better putáľ the variety ofáinterpretations that the title has ináother languages. I think, ináone way or another, I will be writing this series forever, yet now I must stop somewhere toámake further reflection possible. So I stop hereů toácontinue again oneáday.
The series has started on my blog, Los Cuadernos de Julia, with aásmall note about aáfilm director whom I interviewed iná2005. He asked me what I was doing apart from journalism. źI write╗, I told him. źI canĺt be aáwriter╗, he said, źitĺs aávery lonely experience╗.
I remembered this well. Then there was aáquote from Huysmans, that literature źis aáway toásave those who write it from the tedium ofáliving╗. There were aáfew phrases from LĺHistoire de Ma Vie byáCasanova, ináwhich he admitted that he took toáwriting his memoirs ináorder toáonce again experience his incredible adventures. There was hardly another reason for an old librarian toádo so, except loneliness exacerbated byástomach problems.
Then there was aápost about Pascal Quignard that started, as aámatter ofáfact, with my musings on the desire toáread something inspiring and the obligation toáwrite something as daunting as the history ofáSikh martyrs!
Then there was aátext composed over aátwo-hour dictation at Cornerhouse art centre ináManchester, soon toábecome extinct, probably. I contemplated the inevitability ofáloneliness as equivalent toábeing unique.
There were notes written on the train, aárather suitable draft from the year 2004, aátext about female loneliness inspired byáthe works ofáV. Woolf, A. Schopenhauer and F. Nietzsche. Then an essay about aápoem Cafň and Music. And little byálittle all other essays followed.
They are all united, first and foremost, byáthe fact that I wrote them alone, both literally and metaphorically, with no recourse toáanotherĺs opinion. This was rarely solitude or loneliness ináaástrict sense ofáthe word: I was invariably surrounded byápeople who could distract me. They could be neighbours or the folk at the next table ináaácafň. But there was no collaboration, and I never discussed these ideas with anyone, so you may say that loneliness has become aámethod. All essays were written differently: some on computer, the fourth essay was written entirely byáhand, others have got some hand-written drafts, and all poems have got autographs. The fourth essay was written inátwo hours and marks not merely the flow ofáthinking but the passage ofátime, if you like. Interestingly, half ofáthis introduction was written ináRussian, as I considered making this collection bilingual but discarded the idea. Hence, what you have been reading up toánow is aátranslated text. The remaining essays were written ináEnglish. It is aábit complicated with poems. Ever since my first fairytale that I composed at the age ofásix, I have been writing both poetry and prose. Poetic lines intercepted the fairytale, and here you will also find aáfew poems, some originally written ináEnglish, some translated into English byáme that, apart from one or two exceptions, were composed at the time when I was writing the essays and therefore serve as the addenda.
I call these essays źexercises╗ because they have always been conceived as sketches. Making them aácomplete, detailed study ofáloneliness has never been intended. Today we live ináthe world where there is always someone near you: unless it is aáguy at the next table, your pet or God (provided you are aábeliever), then it is almost certainly your virtual acquaintance who either communicates with you on Facebook or Twitter or reads the posts byáyou and others. This also means that loneliness is always fleeting, it comes and goes. Therefore, what is loneliness? When does it occur? When and why do we start feeling it? How do we experience it? When does it end? Does it end at all? My experience suggests that answers toáall these questions are so personalized that it would be extremely audacious ofáme toátry and offer any źcomplete╗ study ofásuch condition. Ináaddition, being aáwriter, the last thing I wanted was toáturn this collection into aápsychology book. Writing hardly needs toábe any more psychologically underpinned than it naturallyáis.
As for me, I have no problem with loneliness, inágeneral. I see loneliness as aárather normal type ofáhuman activity. It cannot be discarded as aástate, but loneliness is ináitself aáby-product ofásome fundamental craving. However, there is aácertain linguistic interest for me here, for the English language has at least three words that can all be translated into Russian as źloneliness╗: solitude (being, or living alone, without any particularly negative connotation), loneliness per se (sometimes with aávery negative connotation) and uniqueness (if we are toáthink ofáloneliness inásome creative sense). That being said, uniqueness is aápersonal characteristic, while creativity is not necessary connected toáartistic sphere. Still, loneliness is normally taken inásocial or strictly physical sense. We therefore talk about the necessity toácommunicate, the aim toábelong toáaásociety. Very few mention loneliness on occasions when you are surrounded byápeople, despite the fact that most ofáus have experienced this at least once ináour lives, and dare I say it is this kind ofáloneliness that most ofáus find the least bearable. Nonetheless, most people I know find loneliness aáterribly awful accident that occurs when there is no-one around and as such should be avoided at all costs.
Meanwhile I am not sure about self-sufficiency that arises from solitary living, as it follows from Schopenhauerĺs work. Perhaps, the reason for this is that there is not much true self-sufficiency around. My uncertainty is also due toáthe fact that every person needs aáconversation with real people toáarrive at unbiased conclusions. Writers need this all the more so. We need real people from past and present, with their jokes, hopes and weaknesses. There is no place for arrogance ináliterature as far as the knowledge ofálife is concerned. Every hyperbole conceals something very realistic, which usually presents itself ináthe society, that huge common room where women used toáwrite inásecret until Virginia Woolf announced that we needed money and aároom ofáour own. As aáwoman, I entirely agree with her. However, since then many writers, both men and women, acquired money and shut themselves inátheir own rooms, whereby the style and subjects ofátheir works have suffered dramatically. This is why I am not sure about Schopenhauerĺs aloofness, as it leads some folk toáthink they can get byáwith their intuition and the little knowledge ofálife theyĺve got. Indeed, we can imagine many things byágoing through the Panoptikum ofáour brain, but for that you need some examples ofáwhat things can be. Reading will not suffice, and ináfact, aáthoughtful, attentive reading is no less aálonely experience than writing.
The essays therefore are meant toágiveáus food for thought, and what can be better food than the one that comes from aáperson who has been alone for the better part ofátheir life? Being the only child does not necessarily predispose you toásolitude or the perpetual feeling ofáloneliness, but as you live on and discover people, habits and modi operandi, you realize that solitude is salubrious, and loneliness is not the end ofáthe world. Ináthe end, as Joseph Brodsky put it ináThe Great Elegy for John Donne, if there are people and things that share our lives, what then shares our death and after-life? Is this not an indication that we are alwaysáľ infinitelyáľ alone? Is this not also aáhint at the divine nature ofáaáman because if the man is created after Godĺs own image, he has toábe alone and toálearn toálive with his solitude and loneliness, as this is what God has been doing since the time before Time? This is not toásay, źstop moaning! loneliness isnĺt the worst thing that can happen╗. Depending on circumstances and your predisposition, it can be the worst thing. But perhaps something ináthese essays will provide consolation, and each one being unfinished is aákey toáthis. Loneliness, solitude, uniqueness are essentially permanent states; but, like tides, they can subside. All we need toádo is toálearn toálive byátheásea.
I remember speaking toáone film director who complained that he had toáwrite an article about his film. Ináhis words, heĺd be happy toátalk about it as much as he could, but writing was weighing him down. As the person who, instead ofáaásilver spoon, was probably born with aápen, I obviously asked what it was that he didnĺt like about writing. His answer was that writing was źaálonely experience╗.
Ofácourse, as Iĺm writing this at an ungodly hour I have toáadmit that, physically, writing is the lonely experience. But mentally it can be quite stimulating and even scandalous, if one considers the works ofáMarquis de Sade, some ofáwhich he wrote ináprison, and someáľ ináan asylum.
Back iná2006ábeing alone felt exhilarating. I craved independence, and I had got my hands full. Not that I didnĺt want toáshare work or success, but I was determined toásucceed alone, first and foremost.
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