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Mathes, B. (2011). Taking Place Granada's Solitude. DIVISION/Rev., 3:31-33.

(2011). DIVISION/Review, 3:31-33

Taking Place Granada's Solitude

Bettina Mathes, Ph.D.

Where is solitude?

How does being alone take place?

If solitude was a city, what would it look like?

1. It's a spur of the moment decision: an apartment found on Craigslist, a ticket bought with miles, Lorca's poetry, the voice of Enrique Morente…three days later I'm on my way to spend four months in Granada, where I've never been and where no one knows me. My friends are as puzzled by my sudden departure as they are unconvinced by my explanation: I want to be alone in a beautiful environment. But then, why Granada-a busy tourist destination, drawing crowds from around the globe?

We wish for solitude to come to us naturally: at the top of Mont Ventoux; during “a delicious evening” at Walden Pond; at Todtnauberg where in the silence and isolation of the Black Forest Martin Heidegger awaited the arrival of “the Truth of Being” (never mind that what “came to him” was Nazism).

A search for solitude on flickr yields 142,000 hits, almost all of them variations on one theme: nature, simplicity, absence, often combined with a sense of heroism-a lone tree on a hill, an unoccupied park bench, a wharf at dawn, a pier before dusk, a lonely beach. Sometimes a single person inhabits these deserted landscapes: hunched over, eyes turned inward, often seen from behind, always beautiful, always separate. The natural world mirrors the inner world (but how do we know what our inner world looks like?). As I click through the seemingly endless, pleasurably monotonous photostream, I'm beginning to recognize the fantasy.

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