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Savage Solitude: Reflections of a Reluctant Loner

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Savage Solitude on Dedalus Poetry Press Website
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Savage Solitude: Reflections of a Reluctant Loner


Máighréad Medbh

Is existence enough, as Auden asserted in his poem, ‘The Riddle’? How much and what kind of companionship does one need? Some of us think we need lots, but are somehow unable to get enough, or any that satisfies.

In a series of 303 internal dialogues and pensées, Savage Solitude explores the state of being alone—its pain, its absences and presences. There are three voices: One; The Other; and I. One is the voice of instinct. It is fearful and only hears itself. The Other is the voice of the larger world in the form of quotations—from scientists, poets, fiction authors, artists, philosophers, psychologists, mystics, loners. The third voice, I, is the rational portion of the self, and the only voice that also listens.

There are three parts, each beginning with a poem which provides phrases to entitle the sub-sections. Part 1 introduces and explores the question of how to live with the pain of exclusion. Part 2 places the voice of The Other first, to emphasise that we exist in a context. This Part looks at the possibility of relationship for someone with a tendency to destroy it. In Part 3, the voice of I rises up to absorb both One and The Other in a spontaneous, uneasy synthesis.

The avatar of the three voices has certain personality traits that militate against a state of intimate bliss, so the question is as much one of self-acceptance as that of solitude. When I started to write, it seemed important to delve into the experience in a dramatic, contextualised way. My preferred approach has always been organic, the value of the practice being ex opera operato, effective by the thing done, as in ritual. So the writing had to be lived in, and in some way symbolic. It’s no accident that each section has 101 aphorisms, totalling 303. All discussions of the nature of self involve a numerical context and the immanence of void.

There is more to be written, and the subject is topical because of this new worldwide virtual body to which we are all contributory cells, but the question of self-experience and self-containment is as old as society. Who was being represented on the cave walls: I, the lone One, or The Other?


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