The New York''s Trilogy
Are We the Solitary Hearts?
Auster himself has explained his starting point in defining the term solitude. He has offered a solipsistic view of a man, whereby he argues that ?even if we are surrounded by others, we essentially live our lives alone: real life takes place inside us. (?). In the end, we know who we are because we can think about who we are. (?) And this takes place in absolute solitude. It?s impossible to know what somebody else is thinking?.<1> Following the author?s thoughts we may add that to dive into the depth of one?s mind means to dive into one?s solitude; and to dive into the depth is the way of discovery or re-finding meaning. American liberal philosopher Bruce Ackerman adds: ?The hard truth is this: There is no moral meaning hidden in the bowels of the universe. (...) Yet there is no need to be overwhelmed by the void. We may create our own meanings, you and I.?<2> Ackerman writes about a certain situation of staying alone without any transcendental support. This absence of eternal truths provides the individual freedom and real possibility of a solitary action. Celebration of a solitary existence and personal responsibility despite living among others supports another liberal thinker Will Kymlicka: No life goes better by being led from the outside according to values the person doesn?t endorse. My life only goes better if I?m leading it from the inside, according to my beliefs about value. Praying to God may be a valuable activity, but you have to believe that it?s a worthwhile thing to do ? that it has some worthwhile point and purpose.<3> The character from the Invention of Solitude adds that it is ?impossible, I realize, to enter another?s solitude. If it is true that we can ever come to know another human being, even to a small degree, it is only to the extent that he is willing to make himself known. A man will say: I am cold. Or else he will say nothing, and he will see him shivering. Either way, we will know that he is cold. But what of the man who says nothing and does not shiver??<4> The impossibility of communication is also shown in Blue?s relationship to ?the future Mrs Blue?, who Blue loses because he does not understand her. He thinks he should not call her because it will only turn her off knowing that he cares. Thus, he is shown to be incapable of knowing her or her feelings, he decides to keep his distance and thus freed from any human contact. As Vietorová puts it, Auster?s protagonists cannot sufficiently experience interpersonal relationships, instead they intentionally destroy them.<5>
One could think that real freedom is spent only in the conditions of individual distance.
<1> Quoted from interview of Larry McCaffery and Sinda Gregory with Paul Auster. (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1995), p.64.> <2> Bruce Ackerman, Social Justice in the Liberal State (New Heaven: Yale University Press, 1980), p.368. <3> Will Kymlicka, Liberalism, Community and Culture (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989), p.12. <4> Paul Auster, The Invention of Solitude. (New York: Avon Books, 1982), p.20. <5> Nina Vietorová, ?Paul Auster a kríza osobnosti.? In: Jana Hromníková (ed.), American Life and Culture in ELT (Bratislava: Pedagogická fakulta Univerzity Komenského, 1998), p.11.