Macho, T., Rashof, S. Alone with oneself: solitude as cultural technique (2021) Angelaki – Journal of the Theoretical Humanities, 26 (1), pp. 9-21.
The essay examines solitude not as fate, sacrifice or passion, but as an experience that is actively initiated, that is perceived ambivalently, sometimes painfully, but also sensually, and that functions as context as well as occasion for the practice of cultural techniques–talking (to oneself), reading, writing, drawing or painting. Solitude techniques are analysed as “technologies of the self” (Michel Foucault) and “techniques of the body” (Marcel Mauss), as strategies for self-perception and “internal policy” (Paul Valéry). The history of these self-techniques as solitude techniques is unfolded using examples from Stoic philosophy and early Christian theology. An emphasis is placed on self-doubling or splitting techniques: those who are alone with themselves also see themselves as more or less resilient objects that can be strengthened against the influences of other voices and people. Among the techniques of solitude is, above all, the quest for suitable places that are often–desert, sea, mountain peak, etc.–characterised not only by being devoid of humans, but also by a kind of uniformity. In this way, they resemble writing or drawing surfaces on which meanings can be brought to light through sketches or graphic characters. © 2021 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.
cultural techniques; places of solitude; self-perception; Stoicism