The Dialectic of Solitude in the Redemption Myth: Man as Exile, Nostalgia and a Search for Communion
Araya Chaves, X.R.
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Throughout history man has expressed his dire need for redemption, envisaged as the re- establishment of a past ideal order, transposed and transfigured into a future totality that will put an end to the long exile, that will resolve the guilt, sin and separation and will restore man's natural self. This essay suggests the importance of Octavio Paz's dialectical notion of solitude as a way to illuminate this fundamental aspect of the human condition. Following Paz, it puts forward the idea of the torment of our divided subjectivity, our self-consciousness, and the punishment of solitude in the realm of the historical experience of man as the ground out of which our sense of sin, our need for redemption and our nostalgic longing for the re-establishment of a lost totality arise. As a solitary, fractured being in a fragmented world we long for a state in which all opposites vanish and resolve themselves in communion. Life and death, light and darkness, good and evil, time and eternity, subject and object – self-consciousness is polarity, the splitting off of opposites. As a result, our whole being strives to abolish our solitude and we rebel against our alienation. Essentially, it is this propensity which is expressed in various myths and which the essay tries to explicate. To illustrate this, it discusses the way in which the dialectic of solitude can be identified in two different redemption myths: the Christian creation myth and the Marxist utopia. Both redemption myths serve as a clear example of man's nostalgia and search for communion. The modus operandi is thus twofold: first, by way of discussing Paz's dialectic of solitude, it seeks to highlight a fundamental part of the human condition and thus deepen our self-understanding; second, by way of discussing the aforementioned redemption myths, it aims to clarify Paz's dialectic as well as illustrate the way in which Paz's dialectic can be identified in the history of ideas.