We're not alone. (We're together.)

Here's a question and answer from a new interview on FORMER PEOPLE: A JOURNAL OF BANGS AND WHIMPERS

Other than religion, why do you think the defense of  community as been largely ignored as an argument against suicide?"

Well, read these and then we’ll talk: ("enisled" means set off as an island)


(From) To Marguerite – Matthew Arnold

Yes: in the sea of life enisled,

With echoing straits between us thrown,

Dotting the shoreless watery wild,

We mortal millions live alone


Islands        – Muriel Rukeyser

O for God’s sake

they are connected



People used to be connected, right on the surface. You needed tight social ties to get anything done. We need more than a barn raising party to put up a house, but that human interaction is low on the human. In the past you were stuck in the faces of a relatively small group who all knew your business. We voted with our feet and went to the anonymous city, where most of us now live. (Through all settled life before now most human beings, by far, lived in farm villages.)

People used to sit in one room together, where the best fireplace was, and tell stories or sing, there was little else to do; same for the breezy front porch in the summer. Now we all have our own rooms with heat, ac, a TV, and the web. It is possible as never before to avoid millions of dull random conversations (and accidentally miss out on many good ones, and even the human ties of the dull ones). So our connection is less, but deeper down it still makes sense of our whole lives.

If you want to know about the highly social mole rat, taking one specimen to the lab and watching it is not going to help. Nor for us. We are still a group animal, in many deep ways. We follow each other into both practices both dangerous and healthy. We matter to each other.  The shock of modernity made us see ourselves as utterly alienated, but we overshot the mark. It is not the peak of rationalism to say love doesn’t exist. It clearly does, and is rich and strange. Things exist between people that are quite uncanny. It is not rational to deny that. The argument in Stay started as literary and philosophical but became scientific when the statistics robustly backed up the reality of suicidal contagion.