Eremo is a Switzerland-based web site on the subject of the hermit life, edited and maintained by Brother Markus. The dominant tradition is Hinduism, but Brother Markus includes Buddhist and Christian mystics as resources in his articles on various aspects of eremitism, and in his recommended readings. The Hindu term “Brahmacharya” is emblematic, defined as “a lifestyle adopted to enable one to attain the Ultimate Reality.” And that lifestyle is the lifestyle of the hermit, supplemented by the practice of virtue, meditation, yoga, and careful readings of classic sages. The site is in German, with English and Spanish translations of the site as options. Supplemented by photos of Brother Markus’ hermitage and environs.
Mauro Morandi, a 79-year old hermit on the small island of Budelli in southern Italy for nearly thirty years, is threatened with eviction, reports Il Globo.
Budelli was recently incorporated into Sardinia’s Maddalena Archipelago national park, and authorities claim that his presence on the island is incompatible with that designation. Morandi, who survived an eviction attempt several years ago due to thousands of petitions on his behalf, argues that, on the contrary, his presence protects the isalnd’s fauna and flora from the neglect of tourists and other island visitors.
XinhuaNet features a story on a wilderness couple devoting their lives as caretakers of an ancient and neglected forestland in China. “For about two decades, Luo Yuxiong and her husband Zhao Jinshan have led a life of solitude in the barren land in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.” Details their decades-long environmental work to restore forest to a once-ravaged area.
A brief 2:28 CNN video update on Father Dario Escobar the hermit: “Meet the hermit who’s the last of his kind: Father Dario Escobar lives high in the mountains of Lebanon and is the region’s last remaining hermit. CNN’s Ben Wedeman journeys to speak with Father Dario, who is not as isolated as one might think.
Photographer Ricardo Ramos has posted an entry on the “Bored Panda” website titled “I Photographed A Series Featuring People Who Live In Constant Solitude.” Ramos explains that he traveled to Portugal’s Trás os Montes region,”which in English means ‘behind the mountains,’ known for villages with less than 10 inhabitants,” where he captured a series of intriguing photographic portraits. The photos have been added to a National Geographic gallery as well. Explains Ramos:
“Those little villages have mostly elderly population as young people left a long time ago in search of a better life. So many of the residents continue the same lifestyle their grandparents had for years.
Many of those villages are untouched by technology; television and cell phones are a rarity. People survive mainly from agricultural production and sheep farming. During winter, these elderly people spend days or even weeks without leaving the house because of the cold. But the greatest obstacle they have to deal with on a daily basis is loneliness.
I joined a young team of the PII project (Proximity to the Isolated Elderly) that regularly visits seniors who are living alone. The goal of this project is to ward off the loneliness of these people and improve their quality of life.
The people I’ve met have fantastic stories that I could listen to for hours.”
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): https://www.theguardian.com/books/gallery/2018/oct/23/seashaken-houses-the-stark-loneliness-of-lighthouses-in-pictures
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.
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.