I recently read The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (1940), by Carson McCullers, which seems to turn partly on the dual theme of isolation and communion. The main characters feel isolated from others, and the one person they all seek communion with is a deaf-mute (who in turn seeks communion, and believes he finds it, with another deaf-mute who doesn’t seem able to reciprocate the emotional closeness). There are other attempts at, or charades of, communion: in the communal (in time and space) yet separate (in emotional connection) nightly dinners at the town restaurant, the one-time impulsive sexual encounter between two teens, a couple of meals shared between a father and daughter who simply don’t understand each other but who wish not to quarrel, a man who feels he ‘knows’ and wants desperately to communicate this knowledge to others …
At the same time I’m reading Richard Beck’s series Alone, Suburban and Sorted, about isolation/community and civic engagement/disengagement in (post)modern U.S. society.
And at the same time, I’m planning a move from a walkable, un-suburban town, where I feel known, to a choice of new towns and ‘communities,’ none of which seems to be walkable, though some may be more or less isolating than others.
So I will be reflecting on Beck’s series here in coming days.