loneliness does not mean one has failed (Olivia Laing, The Lonely City)

Monday, October 10, 2016

I have carried Olivia Laing's The Lonely City from place to place this past month. Laing is a thrilling writer. A form breaker. A true, adult, expansive thinker. In Lonely she weaves together her personal story with the lives of Edward Hopper, Andy Warhol, David Wojnarowicz, and others.

I'm going to be writing about this book in the next issue of Juncture Notes, so no need to say much more about it here. For today, I simply want to quote from the end. Here Laing is speaking about the healing power of art. She holds in her hands the works that others have made. She finds, in them, necessary connection. We live at a time of jarring national discourse, social media degradations, easy, anonymous strikes.

But art speaks of and for the honestly questing self. It speaks not just for the artist but to those seeking proof that their own yearning is neither aberrative nor, somehow, wrong. Loneliness is human. It binds us to each other.

When I came to New York I was in pieces, and though it sounds perverse, the way I recovered a sense of wholeness was not by meeting someone or by falling in love, but rather by handling the things that other people had made, slowly absorbing by way of this contact the fact that loneliness, longing, does not mean one has failed, but simply that one is alive.


Melissa Sarno said...

Oh, how beautiful - thank you for sharing that.

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