Writing & The Human Condition

To be a famous writer, you must relate to people on some profound level. Whether it’s through humour, sarcasm, or a stark depiction of reality, you must be an eloquent mirror into their souls. What then, of the writers who are alienated from society? The ones like Janet Frame, who find heartache and pain in what others deem normal social interactions. Granted, they do reflect the others in the world who are like them, estranged from the world, but surely this is too limited an audience to procure the reputation of ‘great’. Yet, Frame and others like her have indeed procured themselves this reputation. So does their frank isolation hint at an ingrained condition of humanity; loneliness? It’s not something that we like to dwell on, but it’s always there, and given rare tangibility in books such as “Towards Another Summer.” That book brings me to tears every time I read a page of it; the insights are too sad and familiar.

Walking along an industrial horseshoe street in the western suburb of Auckland, I see cars full of leftover dreams. Parked alongside their corresponding 80s era fading signage and businesses, they tell of tired people who have passed their prime. Their dreams have gone unfulfilled. The unwashed cars seem to me a symbol of giving up. Perhaps I am being too harsh. They’ve built a life for themselves, and there’s no reason they shouldn’t be content with themselves. Maybe it is I who am the bitter one; projecting my own inadequacy onto others.

I have heard that loneliness is the human condition, and nothing can solve it. This is true, I think. However, there are degrees of loneliness. For example, I don’t understand why I’m lonely. I’ve seen videos of elderly people describing how their friends and family are all dead, their only solace found in volunteer ‘friendship services’. They spend their days entirely alone at home, with only one phone call to break the silence each 24 hour period. Meanwhile, I live with my partner, flatmates, as well as seeing friends and family fairly regularly. I just feel like something is not right/missing/off/wrong. I don’t know how to explain it. Maybe it’s the selfishness of living in a first world country that makes me feel this way. Perhaps it’s consumerism. I don’t know.

Do other people feel this way? I apologise for my pretentious writing, by the way. I know I use too many commas and adjectives. It’s all in hope that something will ring true to my imaginary audience.

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