“Yes, but someone living in so-called isolation still has a relationship to God and their environment (the natural world). I think there are things that can be learned about oneself in isolation (cf. the movie "Cast Away.")
I don't think isolation is a path for everyone, but I wouldn't dismiss it out of hand.”
I was hoping someone would bring up whether one can be alone... And what it might mean if you are by yourself and therefore believe you are alone.
And for someone who learns something when they are in isolation -- doesn't that have to be applied when they are no longer out of community to be real? I think that is why "Cast Away" decided to not end the movie when Hanks got off the island, but played out his life upon his return.
I had a spectacular silent retreat once, and I wouldn't discount its effects. But I had to wonder a month later if that was -- in spa terms -- just a backrub rather than massage therapy.
THE DREAMER EXAMINES HIS PILLOW goes a step further. The father character in explaining why he had an affair said that he loved his wife so much that he was afraid that when he lost her, he would lose everything. So he “saved” a part of himself away from her.
(Note: Shanley is not trying to claim this as a valid reason for cheating; he is making a bigger point here. So don’t judge just yet!)
What the overly self-aware father (all the characters are overly self-aware – it is a conceit of the play to allow them to dig deeper than most) comes to realize is that such “saving” was a painful waste.
That the part he saved wasn’t worth saving – but would have been worth giving and sharing.
I think Shanley is exploring the idea that our identities are fueled and nourished by intimate communion in love with others – spouse, parent/child, friend. (I’m not talking physical communion here – which is why the affair was an ineffectual substitution.)
And that deliberate isolation within those relationships is a form of self-starvation.
If I had to guess, I would say that Shanley had seen his share of marriages of isolation.
Haven’t we all?
Just my thoughts,