Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

No man is an island entire of itself

19 February 2020


In the 2002 movie About a Boy (#7.0 in IMDb), Hugh Grant claims: “Every man is an island. I stand by that. But clearly some men are island CHAINS. Underneath, they are connected…” (IMDb quotes). Frankly, I concur with this view. To my surprise, a female friend also considers herself as an island. Where does this island feeling come from?

The movie phrase above is consistent with the first part of the 1624 poem Devotions upon Emergent Occasions by John Donne (1572-1631): “No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main []”. See old English and modern version of this poem that “covers death, rebirth and the Elizabethan concept of sickness as a visit from God”.

From a geological point of view, the island of Great Britain is an example in and of itself. Wiki: “Doggerland was an area of land, now submerged beneath the southern North Sea, that connected Britain to mainland Europe. It was flooded by rising sea levels around 6500–6200 BC.” Also see my 2016 blog: The Great Flood (11,000 BC – 4,000 BC).

My friend and I may deem ourselves as an island but we are also connected to other people through family, friends, shopping, visitors, and/or work. Our island feeling is not about feeling unique; else everyone would be feeling like an island. Probably, this island feeling relates to her and my preference for solitude similar to About a Boy, which also shows a solitary man.

The island metaphor includes having lots of water around it for fending off intruders. Moreover, an island is big enough for reconnaissance, or soul-searching in our case. The island metaphor allows for loving nature and its animals.

The 2000 movie Cast Away (#7.8 in IMDb) is an example of involuntary solitude on an island, following a crash landing, which causes “a physical and emotional transformation”. Life changing events (eg, Wiki) are often the cause of transformation – a.k.a. Change (my blogs)

Hermitary-2009: “Solitude brings the unconscious to consciousness. We either go mad (LO: due to involuntary solitude) or we navigate (LO: following voluntary solitude). We navigate with a spiritual master, a trusted loved one, a community of like-minded, our own introverted personality, lots of reading and reflection, lots of physical work, lots of solo nature adventures, lots of spiritual practice, or just plain tenacity.”

The final scenes of About a Boy show that we all share a belief in these lyrics by Neil Diamond: “Don’t know that I will, But until I can find me, The girl who’ll stay, And won’t play games behind me, I’ll be what I am, A solitary man, solitary man”. Hence, no man is an island entire of itself.

Solitary Man (1966) by Johnny Cash

artist, lyricsvideo, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless stated otherwise.


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