Marina Keegan authored the book known as “The Opposite of Loneliness” just before her graduation from the Yale University in the year 2012. In her essay, she brings to context the appeal of tragedy and human society and the power of individualism. Her work is laid out in different stories and essays that stretch the human imagination of how society has evolved and become contained in our expressive minds. The title in itself is a compelling question that requires an in-depth look at what loneliness is and what is its opposite. One is caught thinking of their definition of the opposite of loneliness. This paper will be discussing the purpose of her work and how the sense of individualism and human society can be expressed. Quotes from her book will be used for the discussion to showcase her work and how she perceived the world in her texts.
She continuously brings up a sobering remembrance of the magnanimity of the word individualism in her work. In “The Opposite of Loneliness” she quotes “We’re our hardest critics, and it’s easy to let ourselves down.” The conclusion being that the minds of men live in constant confusion and self-destruction. The foundations of our society seem to be failing, and people are more than ever losing faith in their intelligence due to the rise of the capitalist industrialism. The concept means that we have become defeated in our purpose and what we were called to serve due to own afflictions of our mind. Human independence has an enormous importance on the individual’s liberty and self-reliance. Her work also brings in the concept of fear of the person to die in loneliness and not accomplishing anything. The helplessness of our weak bodies means that we have to rely on help from others, but others are not willing to help. She writes “I sometimes worry that humans are afraid of helping people. There’s less risk associated with animals, less fear of failure, fear of getting too involved. In war movies, a thousand soldiers can die gruesomely, but when the horse is shot, the audience is heartbroken.” It instigates the thought of how today’s society has become corrupt, selfish, and only want to help themselves; and are more concerned about an animal’s death than human death. The increase in homelessness, crumbling social ties, and inadequate response to apathy has belittled the modern society where people are now losing sight of collective living and submerging themselves in a state of individualism.
In her essay, she writes “friendship and community and acceptance and fearless individuality” referring to her small group of misfits who have helped overcome the pressures of an individualistic society that has become more self-involved. She is afraid of losing them as for her they are the right fit. Compared to the rest of society who overlook the beauty in everything she seems to have found the right people to watch the world with and marvel at its beauty. There is indeed opposite to loneliness and it is found in finding one’s self in the tiny world you create for yourself. “Suddenly and totally, we’re threaded together in a network so terrifyingly colossal that we can finally see our terrifyingly small place in it. But we’re all individuals.” This quote seems to be the breakthrough that transcends the answer to the fear of loneliness and individualism. There is indeed a positive side to it. It also brings to light the concept of human relation and how it is an essential element to society. She believes firmly that people are meant to meet and when they do they become inseparable not by the physical environment but the cross path of memory and time.
”I hate that I feel I am running out of time. I must always remember that time is all there is, and we are always running out of it.” This is one of her quotes and is also one of the human problems that we are faced on a daily basis. She also seems to have the same problem where she feels she is out of time, and there is so much to do including form a meaningful relationship with someone and falling in love. It is a tragedy that human beings have a rather short and definite expiry date. The author here introduces this fear and shares with the reader as a reminder of how everyone has to ensure they use their limited time to the fullest.
The essay captures the common attribute to society and how individualism is a constant threat to the nature of social collectivism. She captures the hope, future possibilities, and the uncertainties her generation faces. It is, however, a general concern for the whole human society who are unaware of what the future holds and when their time as living beings will come to an end. It is such a great piece to read and invokes a lot of mixed reactions to the joys and melancholy of life.
Keegan, Marina. The opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.
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