I close the door behind me when I sit down to write. I don’t have to. I have a door prop and I could use it to keep the door open. If I let it swing shut – rather than purposefully shutting it – I still feel a little mean, anti-social, and yet, there is something about a room with the door closed and containing only you and your writing that seems conducive to writing, loyal to writing, to somehow be something essential to writing.
It’s a strange thing that we become and want to become alone in writing and in order to write, and yet hope that others will read what we write, and in a way wish that as many people as possible will read what we have written.
Today’s technology seems to encourage this ‘Alone Together‘ (title of a book by Sherry Turkle) feeling, or ‘Alone But Not Lonely‘ (title of a book by Volker Grassmuck, with a Preface by yours truly) feeling.
We also have the relatively recent phenomena (first arising in Japan) of ‘Otaku’ and ‘Hikkikomori’ lifestyles in strands of which individual human beings seem to take the advantages of new technologies to live as apart from others as it is possible for them to do so, while nevertheless being implicitly or actively connected through the internet to what seems to be the entire world.
In my most recent book, titled ‘Technologies of Romance – Part II’, I wrote a chapter on this theme titled ‘Whole In One’ and really, I think this contains the core of my philosophy, if I have one, my ultimate world view on which my political and ethical beliefs are based.
It is probably rooted in Romanticism and I saw echoes of it in the William Blake exhibition I attended recently at Tate Britain in London. We could call it ‘micro/macrocosmic’ and I also, and often refer to it as ‘Holistic Relativism’.
Not that I am looking for anyone to agree with me or buy-in to my philosophy, but these ideas feel pretty consolidated in me now, having first crystalised during that seven-year period of isolation that I purposefully put myself through in the 1990s, and which I know I keep harking back to and writing about – but that’s because it was so formative and foundational of who and what I am today and still guides (as here) my thought, acts and creativity.
So, when I choose to let the door swing shut behind me, before booting-up a personalised laptop, with a singular password, I become highly individuated it seems, but only so as to try to access some heart of myself that might echo in the hearts of all others (‘The Whole In One’ – which is also the name of a song I wrote and recorded this year).
That may sound grandiose, but I suspect something like this lies at the heart of many artists and our practices. We want and need to be as alone as possible, in order to be able to access something very precious that is not the same as the magic of working with others creatively. Indeed, we might not be able to interact with others creatively without having honed our own particular abilities and positions.
We let the door swing shut behind us, but only in order to ‘collaborate’ with everyone, with the whole world, and at best, with the whole universe.