Automat [1927] Edward Hopper

When you say the word ‘solitude’ you hear, “when I am alone I get bored, sometimes I even get depressed.” It seems that loneliness and boredom go hand in hand.

The problem does not lie in the ability or inability to be alone, rather it focuses on the fact that moments of loneliness are inevitable for anyone, be they single, widowed, married, with or without children, or even surrounded by a crowd.

These moments inevitably present themselves — but instead of enjoying them and taking advantage of them, the present man flees because he fears discovering that his so elaborate facade, his wonderful words and his organised life are altogether mere appearance. Loneliness puts us face to face with ourselves.

If the individual does not face this inability to be with himself, if he doesn’t commit to solving it, he can make mistakes such as forming a couple not out of love but out of fear. He might have children for company or work excessively to escape loneliness.

The other day I heard, “I don’t want to grow old alone, I’m going to have a child.” Is it wise to solve the problems posed by loneliness by bringing a child into the world? This situation could explain why some children eventually become the parents of their parents.

The inability to live in solitude has been accentuated since the world chose technology as its queen. Technology and great advances in science have changed our thinking patterns.

Science — and the illusion that it is the only solution for the survival of modern man — was introduced into our lives as faith declined. As science became a God there was a need to abolish faith. Man has come to believe that he is a God, but at the same time he can’t bear the idea. This is the source of his loneliness.

It would be a mistake to deny the great advances in science and technology that have improved our quality of life. However, the counterpart of this scientific over-development has been psychological and spiritual under-development. That is, our advances have brought about a stagnation in the inner life of the human being.

Proof of this is the increase in violence, crime, suicide rates, homicides, the incidence of depression and divorces. If I had the necessary figurative ability to make an illustration representing contemporary man, I would draw a caveman sitting in front of a computer.

Deep down, modern man continues to live as a primitive being who plays the role of being civilised, surrounded by concrete and electronic devices.

Modern consciousness tends towards rationalisation, it does not accept that which does not imply a proven logic. For this reason we reject faith, and with it religion, and only allow it to be valid to the extent that it is accepted as a phenomena in the background.

But we want to experience the soul itself. We want primal experience. The consequence, obviously, has been this increased interest in psychic manifestations, in spiritualism, astrology, theosophy and parapsychology. Deep down, all these things have a genuinely religious character, although they try to pretend otherwise and show themselves as scientific disciplines.

Today man feels, experientially, that he is alone. That he must definitely be the conscious creator of his story. We have not yet, however, developed a philosophical system that helps man to experience his solitude in harmony. Quite the contrary. Instead of seeking the harmony that he so badly needs, he insists on living nihilistically. He indulges in illusions, lies and hallucinations — while trying to cope with economic and social problems.

The thoughtful man of our century, whether he is a believer, an agnostic or an atheist, has nothing left but to adapt to his new loneliness and to make a personal agreement with the absolute and eternal being: mystery.

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Automat [1927] Edward Hopper

Psychiatrist & Writer — Writing and meditating at the intersection of psychiatry, philosophy, Buddhism and the arts. More information at www.lidaprypchan.com

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