What happens when busyness and sociability leave no room for solitude? The ability to engage in introspection, I put it to my students that day, is the essential precondition for living an intellectual life, and the essential precondition for introspection is solitude. They took this in for a second, and then one of them said, with a dawning sense of self-awareness, “So are you saying that we’re all just, like, really excellent sheep?” Well, I don’t know. But I do know that the life of the mind is lived one mind at a time: one solitary, skeptical, resistant mind at a time.
This is from an otherwise white liberal guilt-ridden article on class distinctions and Ivy League education. Don't get me wrong, the article is well written, but it's transparent in its disingenuousness. Surely no one can be that callow.
Anyway, I'm thinking about this now. I think about solitude a lot because, one, I'm an only child and have been alone all my life, and two, I know how important solitude is for my own well-being. More on this as I muse on it.