Gatsby–Literature’s loneliest

Here are some quotes from The Great Gatsby, possibly the most beautiful book ever written about loneliness.  Oh Gatsby, “The poor son-of-a-bitch.”

“I slunk off in the direction of the cocktail table–the only place in the garden where a single man could linger without looking purposeless and alone.”

“When the ‘Jazz History of the World’ was over girls wer putting their heads on men’s shoulders in a puppyish, convivial way, girls were swooning backward playfully into men’s arms, even into groups knowing that someone would arrest their falls–but no one swooned backward on Gatsby and no French bob touched Gatsby’s shoulder and no singing quartets were formed with Gatsby’s head for one link.”

“A sudden emptiness seemed to flow now from the windows and the great doors, endowing with complete isolation the figure of the host who stood on the porch, his hand up in a formal gesture of farewell.”

“The modesty of the demand shook me.  He had waited five years and bought a mansion where he dispensed starlight to casual moths so that he could ‘come over’ some afternoon to a stranger’s garden.”

“He had passed visibly through two states and was entering upon a third.  After his embarrassment adn his unreasoning joy he was consumed with wonder at her presence.  He had been full of the idea so long, dreamed it right through to the end, waited with his teeth set, so to speak, at an inconceivable pitch of intensity.  Now, in the reaction, he was running down like an overwound clock.”

“Possibly it had occurred to him that the colossal significance of that light had now vanished forever.  Compared to the great distance that had separated him from Daisy it had seemed very near to her, almost touching her.  It had seemed as close as a star to the moon.  Now it was again a green light on a dock.  His count of enchanted objects had diminished by one.”

“He talked a lot about the past and I gathered that he wanted to recover something, some idea of himself perhaps, that had gone into loving Daisy.”

“He knew that when he kissed this girl, and forever wed his unutterable visions to her perishable breath, his mind would never romp again like the mind of God.”

“…I just remembered that today’s my birthday.”

“Thirty–the promise of a decade of loneliness, a thinning list of single men to know, a thinning brief-case of enthusiasm, thinning hair.”

“So we drove on toward death through the cooling twilight.”

“He stretched out his hand desperately as if to snatch only a wisp of air, to save a fragment of the spot that she had made lovely for him.  but it was all going by too fast now for his blurred eyes and he knew that he had lost that part of it, the freshest and the best, forever.”

“If that was true he must have felt that he had lost the old warm world, paid a high price f0r living too long  with a single dream.  He must have looked up at an unfamiliar sky through frightening leaves and shivered as he found what a grotesque thing a rose is and how raw the sunlight was upon the scarcely created grass.  A new world, material without being real, where poor ghosts, breathing dreams like air, drifted fortuitously about.”

And, of course:

“Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us.  It eluded us then, but that’s no matter–tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther…And one fine morning—-

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”


A Catologue of Loneliness

David Foster Wallace believed the purpose of literature was to help the reader “To become less alone inside.”  Art can affect us in myriad ways, but I do believe that at the center of it all is that connection with another person, that understanding of human isolation and intellectual struggle.  By writing and reading about our inherent ‘aloneness’, we paradoxically become less lonely; not only that, but in the best of our interaction with the art we love, we become euphoric about the ways in which this particular text–whatever the medium–connects with us, becomes us, and allows the soul a reprieve from the sorrows of our perpetual inability to ever connect, truly connect.

At least, that’s what I believe.

Regardless, what I would like to do with this site is to create a virtual catalogue of art that features loneliness.  Intentionally open-ended, what constitutes loneliness can mean different things to different people.  Really it’s about personal experience; a subjective response.  However, by cataloguing and discussing different ‘lonely’ texts, we can hopefully connect on a deeper level.  And we can become, perhaps, less alone in the process.  So in the comments, just post something you found to be beautifully lonely.  It can be a line/s from a poem, a movie clip, a quote from a novel, a song, a picture.  I will go through the comments and try to keep timely posts about your various choices, along with some of my own.