Olivia Laing


[…] 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. There is a gentrification that is happening to cities, and there is a gentrification that is happening to emotions too, whit a similar homogenising, whitening, deadening effect. Amidst the glossiness of late capitalism, we are fed the notion that all difficult feelings – depression, anxiety, loneliness, rage – are simply a consequence of unsettled chemistry, a problem to be fixed, rather than a response to structural injustice or, on the other hand, to the native texture of embodiment, of doing time, as David Wojnarowicz memorably put it, in a rented body, with all the attendant grief and frustration that entails. I don’t believe the cure of loneliness is meeting someone, not necessarily. I think it’s about two things: learning how to befriend yourself and understanding that many of the things that seem to afflict us as individuals are in fact a result of larger forces of stigma and exclusion, which can and should be resisted.



The miracle of laptops and smartphones is that they divorce contact from the physical, allowing people to remain sealed into a private bubble while they are nominally in public and to interact with others when they are nominally alone.



[…] that loneliness can derive from the conviction that there is no person or group to which one belongs. This not belonging can be seen to have a much deeper meaning. However much integration proceeds, it cannot do away with the feeling that certain components of the self are not available because they are split off and cannot be regained. Some of these split-off parts […] are projected into other people, contributing to the feeling that one is not in full possession of one’s self, that one does not fully belong to oneself or, therefore, to anybody else. The lost parts too, are felt to be lonely.