Written in three “acts” with a brief philosophical interlude, this essay offers a meditation on the crucial but all-too-often overlooked distinction between solitude and loneliness. Act 1 considers the relationship between solitude and taboo, taking up representations of solitude and the social forces behind its violent rejection in classic Hollywood melodrama. Act 2 turns to the embrace of solitude as essential to the work of philosophy, with particular attention to the writings of Maurice Blanchot, for whom solitude is a way of becoming both “someone else” and at the same time more fully in tune with oneself. The interlude introduces a brief parenthesis, intended less as a provocation and more as a clarifying interruption to distinguish between lonely and solitary modes of living. Finally, Act 3 wanders into the realm of poetics and aims to think about the strange, paradoxical relationship between collaboration and solitude; the creative, collective world-making potential of solitude.

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