Seung-Hui, the busy Virginia Tech shooter, made a very bad impression
on me. First, there was the killing spree. Second, he was a loner, a
much reported fact that is destroying a perfectly romantic notion.
I first read the interior monologue of detective Philip Marlowe, the
fictional creation of Raymond Chandler, I found a kindred spirit.
Marlowe, a knight-errant, walked down lonely streets, a man true
to his own self. He was a rational mind against the insanity
of the world.
didn’t ‘hang out.’ I fell in love with Jay Gatsby,
the odd man out, haunted and melancholy, staring across the channel.
When Pee Wee Herman looked into the blue eyes of a ravishing blonde and
snarled, “I’m a loner, Dottie,” I said, “Me too!” These
guys had feelings and thoughts that did not need the approval of others.
Rather than giving the world an angry finger, they bowed quietly and
said, “I’ll take it as I see it but not as you play it.”
am a loner. Always have been. Since I was a kid. My head is my favorite
place to be. In my mind I have lived many lives. I have
the universe and conquered continents. I have made fortunes and lost
kingdoms. I’ve traveled the world, but my passport says that
I have not gone very far.
mind is a better world than the one I live in. I believe a giant
ape can climb the Empire State Building. I have saved children from
of a burning freighter. I have flown high over Neverland. Nothing
is impossible, yet I’m having a hell of a time trying to clear
a paid parking ticket off my record.
an artist, I am left to my own devices. Alone in my studio, a canvas
evolves by itself. It’s my world. No one can touch it and there,
no one can hurt me. My imagination provides its own Mapquest without
direction from others. I stand alone upon the precipice of my studio,
high above the turbulent fog of life. It’s a world where I’m
To be alone is to be elitist. There is a snob appeal. To be honest,
the voices in my head are far more entertaining that you.
Man in nature is a romantic notion. Men in nature are devastation. A
man alone can create a dialogue with the world and himself. Truths
realized in unspoken languages. Nature inspires. I am reminded of
Caspar David Friedrich’s famous painting, “Wanderer Above the Sea
of Fog.” Man stands tall, high on a mountaintop, commanding the
violent and unseen nature before him. Only alone can the world speak
to him. Man is nature’s greatest achievement.
Conversely, you put a group of guys together and you get a campground
full of McDonalds wrappers or a rainforest devoid of trees. These
days, nature refuses to speak. Now you put a man alone in nature
and you get
Ted Kaczynski the Unabomber.
the bible of our morality, used to portray the loner as an iconic
hero. I bought it hook line. James Dean did it well. Greta
was a loner, but I’ve never seen her movies. Batman was never
big on cocktail parties and I liked him for it. Somewhere Hollywood
astray. They have marginalized the loner.
is hard to find a thoughtful character, a seeker, one who introspects
and reflects. Somerset Maugham wrote a beautiful book, ‘The Razor’s
Edge’, about a man alone finding enlightenment. If Hollywood were
to attempt the third remake they would turn it into a buddy picture.
Somehow, Siddhartha become Travis Bickle. You’ll never find a loner
in a TV sitcom; they just aren’t that funny.
Because of this, a few aberrations of our society get big media play.
The antagonists of Columbine were loners. Pilot Mohamed Atta was
a loner. The pederast down the block is a loner. To a gullible public
appears overwhelming. I worry about a backlash. Being alone used
to be transcendent, an inspired reflection. Today, time alone insinuates
you are packing shell casings and downloading kiddie-porn.
Not all mass murderers are loners. Hitler certainly liked stadium-sized
spectaculars. Jim Jones served Kool-Aid at his last block party.
Charlie Manson never surfed alone.
The Fourth Estate tells me its bad to be alone yet they are encouraging
me to do so. If I am on the Internet, am I alone? My best friend
is a Playstation. How many people can watch a cell phone TV?
we get another shooter anytime soon I’m gonna have to start
socializing more. The general public is becoming prejudiced against those
who prefer their own company. Artists have never been more suspect than
before. I’m afraid of the stigma. Must a lone wolf now run
with the pack? Does a group show send a better signal than a solo
Are we safer in a movement with numbers? Alone must mean insane.
GORDY GRUNDY is a Los Angeles based artist. His visual and literary
works can be found at www.gordygrundy.com.