Solitude and lighthouses

The Guardian article “Storms and solitude: the literature of lighthouses” summarizes the lore of lighthouses and their enigmatic keepers: “The solitary existence of a lighthouse keeper has long captured the imagination,” the article notes, whether as adventure fiction or psychological study. Concentrates on Robert Louis Stevenson, Virginia Wolff, M. L. Stedman, and the nonfiction account of W. J. Lewis. Includes a photo gallery of notable lighthouses titled “Seashaken Houses,the stark loneliness of lighthouses – in pictures.”


URL (photo gallery):

Dan Hummel, American hermit in Ireland

A lengthy article on the IrishCentral website titled “The American hermit who 50 years ago fled the US for a remote Irish location,” about 78-year old Dan Hummel, who left the United States to become a hermit in West Cork, Ireland, facing the Atlantic Ocean. Hummel is a Vietnam War veteran, who no longer wanted to live in his native country given the politics of the late 1960s. Though a Navy veteran reaching the rank of lieutenant, Hummel opposed the foreign policy and general materialistic culture of the United States. He lived in China and Japan, and eventually ended his travels in Ireland.


Dispositional autonomy

A preliminary study reported by the British Psychological Society Research Digest turns up a new angle on introversion and extroversion. Based on an extensive undergraduate survey, the study concludes that reported introverts were not necessarily content with periods of solitude, while extroverts could be. The explanation is based not on stereotyped personality but on a psychological factor called dispositional autonomy, derived from self-determination theory.

Simply put, people enjoy solitude who are “strong in this trait [dispositional autonomy because they] have alignment between their behaviour, values and interests,” are “resistant to pressure from others,” and “are interested in learning more about their personal experiences and emotions.” “High scorers in autonomy enjoyed solitude more than others and sought it out for its own sake,” concluded the researchers.

This makes sense. Historical hermits were autonomous in psychological and physical modes or dispositions. They resisted the pressure of those who disagreed with them but also those who imposed their authority. They were in philosophy and spirituality always seeking to make progress and to learn more about how they progressed and what worked or did not. Historical recluses were not hermits and generally feared encountering others and, for that matter, themselves. While the study is not peer-reviewed and still preliminary, the notion of dispositional autonomy and self-determination are valuable clues beyond the older personality theory.


Charles Brandt, Canada hermit-priest (2)

Hakai Magazine profiles the Catholic priest and hermit Charles Brandt, who lives on Vancouver Island. At 95, the naturalist reflects on nature, solitude, and spirituality in an article about him titled “The Oracle of Oyster River.” (Fr.Brandt has been cited in this blog several times.)


A previous article about Charles Brandt – URL:

Perspectives on silence

The US public radio program “To The Best Of Our Knowledge” (TTBOOK) recently repeated an hour-long segment on silence titled “Taking Comfort in the Sound of Silence.” The program features several segments, the descriptions below are from the program.

These versions of silence are not explicitly eremitic but are certainly interesting applications. Norwegian writer and adventurer Erling Kagge wrote of his South Pole experience in Alone to the South Pole (1993). He has written a 2016 book Silence in the Age of Noise and, most recently, Walking: One Step At A Time, both recommended to Hermitary readers. The role of silence in the works of John Cage have been addressed here:

The Contemplative Silence of A Long Cold Journey
In 1993, Norwegian explorer Erling Kagge made history by becoming the first person to cross Antarctica alone. He was by himself for fifty days and during his trek, he learned a lot about the power of silence and the importance of making time for it in our noisy, hectic lives.

A Nature Preserve For The Quiet Of Nature

If you’re looking for silence here in the U.S., you might want to visit “One Square Inch of Silence.” It’s a spot inside the Hoh Rain Forest in Washington State’s Olympic National Park. Acoustic ecologist Gordon Hempton created it, as part of his life mission to record the sound of silence.

The Volume of Absolute Silence
The world is getting noisier and it’s hurting us. When George Mickelson Foy got worried about all of the toxic noise in his life, he set on a quest for absolute silence.

The Tale of A Mute Piano Performance
John Cage’s “4’33” was first performed on August 29th, 1952, by pianist David Tudor. He came out on stage, sat at the piano, and did not play. The audience was not impressed. Kyle Gann tells the story in “No Such Thing as Silence.”

A Silent Soliloquy From The World’s Greatest Mime
For more than 60 years, the great French mime Marcel Marceau dominated stages around the world without ever saying a word. Shawn Wen documents Marceau’s story in a book-length essay called “A Twenty Minute Silence Followed by Applause.”

The Pauses Between Chords of Iconic Rock and Roll
For author Jennifer Egan — whose novel “A Visit From The Goon Squad” documents the inner life of lifelong rock and roll stars—the pauses in rock ballads might say as much or more than the riffs.


Yogi of silence teaches yoga features an article titled “Guru who spent almost 20 years living as silent hermit has left forest to travel the world to teach people yoga.” The yogi is Vijay Gopala, “who spent 17 years living in meditative silence – where he almost never spoke – and contemplated life from his shack in the middle of an Indian forest.” Gopala now travels the world to teach about yoga, adapted different poses and techniques according to the needs of his students. He was featured by TLE because of his attendance at a world yoga festival in Reading, England. He tells the interviewer:

Actually, different types of yoga are a recent development. For me, yoga is just yoga. We make reference from the classical books of Indian philosophy. It’s all explained in different books and dates back many thousands of years. People who can’t understand the classical type move on to the others. The type I teach is more authentic, it’s more than intense, it has a depth. New types are superficial.


Japanese island hermit removed

The 82-year old Japanese hermit Nasafumi Nagasaki, living on a deserted island for 29 years, was first noted in this blog in March 2014. is the first source with an update.

Nasafumi Nagasaki became famous as the “naked” hermit because the island of Sotobanri is deserted, and the loss of many of his possessions in a typhoon convinced him to go about without clothes. His intended two-year stay became 29 years. He received occasional visitors, chiefly curious Western media, and unknown friends bringing supplies, though he foraged and built his own homestead. In a visit, island-watcher Alvaro Cerezo learned from Nagasaki how passionate the latter was about staying on the island and dying there. Nagasaki told him: “In civilisation people treated me like an idiot and made me feel like one. On this island I don’t feel like that.” … “Here, on the island I don’t do what people tell me to do, I just follow nature’s rules. You can’t dominate nature so you have to obey it completely.”

But suddenly Nagasaki is no longer on his beloved island. He was apparently observed by an island passerby to be weak and sick and he was removed by authorities to the nearest city of Nishigaki, where he now lives in government housing. He was, perhaps, temporarily ill, but then fully recovered, nevertheless authorities will not allow him to return.

Multiple URLs use this original source: