By Jocelyn CHU (Overseas Correspondent at the University of Kent)

“This is a world with growing embrace of loneliness, yet the rapidly developed communication technology is still way behind taking care of the immense and empty feeling of solitude inside us.”

– Jiang Xun

Solitude stems from the inner isolation that everyone feels to a certain degree. As an individual, “being alone” physically or mentally is just a normal state of life. However, there is an increasing trend for people to focus on relationship networks while neglecting the introspection and self-richness that loneliness or solitude can provide. In Six Lectures on Solitude, Jiang Xun suggests that solitude or loneliness is not just about disconnection or alienation which poses negative effects on people. It is an art that cultivate and enrich people’s minds and where the most glorious solitude might be bred. In his book, Jiang Xun introduces six aspects of solitude, which are solitude in love, solitude in language, solitude in revolution, solitude in violence, solitude in thoughts, and solitude in morality.

  • Solitude in love – The first love that appears in our life is ourselves. We keep secrets and write poems to ourselves; we even listen to the breath and heart beat inside us, trying to understand every tiny bit in the deepest silence. 

  • Solitude in language – Common language sparks the process of misunderstanding among people rather than eliminates it. The different rhetoric that we use prevents us from uncovering the content that words encode.

  • Solitude in revolution – Most of the Utopia that revolutionists create in their mind is unachievable in real practice. Behind every enthusiastic picture of reform, there lies a deep desolation that is seldom recorded in history.
  • Solitude in violence – Power can easily become violence and achieve  most when we consent to it. In the face of victory in wars with the opponent seriously destroyed, how many of us will admit that, without noticing it, we become someone who forces violence and forgoes mercy?

  • Solitude in thoughts –The world of thoughts and meditation that we enter is the one that nobody else can ever know. So great thinkers are often deemed to be great loners.

  • Solitude in morality – Even when we are hugging the most beloved, it takes us no more than a second to realise that we cannot integrate with them into one person, no matter how deep the intimacy is.

Jiang Xun(蔣勳), the author
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In Jiang Xun’s view, solitude is where we can perceive the glory of “being alone” and make the best of it. There is reason to believe that behind every moment of solitude, there is truth, beauty and soul.

Readers have different views. You are welcome to send your ideas on the book or any thoughts relating to it to


ResLink Issue No.34
April 2011