Introverts encouraged

A couple of introversion life-style pieces for a popular audience: “Living as an Introvert in an Extrovert World” in The Week addresses the social angle, while “Introverts, Hermits, And The Shy: Here’s Your Map To Success” in Forbes interviews a writer focused on jobs and careers.

Introverts will recognize the socializing issues immediately. The jogs and careers issues are more of a challenge. Since the 2012 appearance of the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain, a number of essays and articles have tried to “rehabilitate” introverts, to reassure them that they, too, can embrace the world of competition and claw their way to upward nobility. Usually this tact is addressed when discussing mental health like stress and burn-out and coping methods that poorly imitate meditation, and can be offensive. But more sensitive articles emphasize the existence of jobs that introverts actually like, occupations not quite as solitary as historically solitary jobs of lighthouse keepers or charcoal burners, of course. And that is the key. Introverts in occupations that highlight their mental or tactile skills versus their personality tip the perception of others favorably. But in the world of higher competition usually favored by magaines like Forbes, no safe advice is guaranteed.

URL: (The Week); (Forbes)

Joseph Plummer, New Hampshire hermit

The life and story of a 18th-century New Hampshire (US) hermit is recreated in a new book by Amani Willetts titled The Disappearance of Joseph Plummer. The book uses narrative, photography, and archival material to recreate the mystery.

“Before he left society for a life in the woods he [Plummer] was basically anonymous,” Willett said. “It was his act of leaving that turned him into a myth. Paradoxically, his desire to become invisible has only fueled people’s interest in his life.”


Amos Wilson, Pennsylvania hermit

The article “The Pennsylvania Hermit: The Woeful Tale of a Grieving Brother’s Broken-hearted Hermitage,” in Ancient Origins, retells the story of Amos Wilson, who abandoned society in 19th-century Pennsylvania upon the execution of his sister for alleged murder of her infant out of wedlock. Wilson had gained the state governor’s pardon for her but arrived too late to save her. Both brother and sister are said to haunt the grounds where they resided.

See an early blog entry on Wison’s reported essay, Sweets of Solitude, here:


Disappointing hermits

Guardian article with a twist on the idea of hermits as wise sages. Titled “This reclusive life: what I learned about solitude from my time with hermits.” Byline: “When the chaos of the big city began to drag, Paul Willis wondered if solitude might be the answer. Would his encounters with hermits yield what he wanted?”

The author is disillusioned with visits to two hermits in Arizona and New Mexico respectively. He concludes:

Among the Apophthegmata is a saying by an unknown hermit: “It is better to live among the crowd and keep a solitary life in your spirit than to live alone with your heart in the crowd.”

In other words, if you go into solitude to get away from something, your troubles will probably follow you.


Maine hermit-thief book

Not much has been reported (deliberately) in this blog on the story of Christopher Knight, the “hermit” of Maine who survived stealing food from campsites and residencies for 27 years until being caught by authorities and gone through court trial. The first book on the subject has appeared: The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit, by journalist Michael Finkel. A brief but useful review in the New Republic makes it easy for the genuine student of eremitism to bypass both the book and the story, where others will take Knight to indeed be a hermit.

The first telling observation by the reviewer is the parasitic relationship between Knight and “civilization,” the desire for solitude coupled with a desire for sloth, egoism, active hostility and near sadism towards people, the latter being the psychological torment inflicted on campers and residents suffering break-ins and the baffling theft of only selected items from their residences and campsites, losing all peace and wondering if someone was spying on them, plotting a more sinister assault. As Finkel notes, “Knight…fled the modern world only to live off of the fat of it.”

As the reviewer points out, we want hermits to be St. Antony, or at least Thoreau, someone who can distill wisdom from their experience so that others may share it. Knight is the opposite, the anti-hermit, the anti-Thoreau, who scoffs at the notion of hermit wisdom, who scorns the idealization. Knight demonstrates the dark side of eremitism, the doppelganger, the Yaldabaoth, and will have confused many by the time his story is exhausted.