“The hermit turns his back on the world and will have no truck with it.”
Freud, Civilization and its Discontents, Ch. II
“Aloof with hermit-eye I scan
The present works of present man.”
Coleridge, Ode to Tranquility
When faced with questions about whether human beings are innately cruel, or the bitter problem of Evil, it is often useful in old age to retire to a quiet, distant place in order to settle the matter.
Unfortunately, such places often harbor mosquitoes that come and go, buzzing hither and yon throughout the night, here one day, gone the next, then back again.
Moreover, where apparent quietude seemed to have been successfully sought, loud Spaniards or the drilling of the constructor’s saw and drill bit or the ululations of social inferiors to the accompaniment of frivolous folkloric music often come out of nowhere to frontally assault your daytime equanimity.
You can switch off the TV in order to read in serene leisurely contemplation R. I. Moore’s The Formation of a Persecuting Society (2nd edition of course), but nay, they are determined to exist, to be heard, to speak, to invade your pleasure garden, to — at all costs — be noticed, for reasons they do not even understand.
In such cases, there is only one course action: beat a retreat to the Tower of Isolation, armed with a mosquito tent.
Such a thing is not so easily accomplished. Preparation must be made if your Mozinet, which hitherto had nobly withstood the desert storms in order to protect you poolside from blood-sucking flies, is now soiled with the dust of disdainful enmity from the pointless rustling of the wind.
You must wash it; this is what I had to do.
And you must further plug in the earpieces of aural joy to achieve what is known as The Block.
In the end, the result is rather splendid.
No one can touch you; you have separated completely from dirty, messy, illogical, vain, violent, pestering human and skeeterkind — so long as there are burly guards on your street, armed rent-a-cops at the entrance to your expat enclave, food and purified water in the fridge, an HD TV with a pleasing variety of channels and a reliable internet connection, and of course a large multi story villa with a pool, you need not experience anything at all that displeases you ever again — in a place like Gouna, everybody delivers, and Gouna could be anywhere, depending on the health of your bank account.
All this cone-of-isolation routine takes is a little (or a lot) of money, reasonably good health, no residual mawkish sentimentality, and a sturdy conviction to permanently turn your back on what you once regarded as indispensable — within reason, naturally.
It comes down to this: are you Julius Winsome, in novel-reading matters, as well as in pondering the nature of Evil, or a Goodreads cullion? Solo on the beach, or group?
Home and country is always wherever you happen to be at any given moment; everything else is provisional: after all, you are your own best company.
There’s all kinds of tents in this world.
They share something: the virtue of noble mobility.
If civil war eventually breaks out in America, would you care enough to return and join the fray?