No man is an island, and so on

UPDATED: Wednesday, October 18, 2017 09:08
PAGE 1 of 1

Monday, October 9, 2017 5:04 PM


Goodbye, kind world (George Monbiot) - In common with all those generations which have contemplated catastrophe, we appear to be incapable of understanding what confronts us.

No man is an Iland

No man is an Iland, intire of itselfe; every man
is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine;
if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe
is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as
well as if a Manor of thy friends or of thine
owne were; any mans death diminishes me,
because I am involved in Mankinde;
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.

John Donne had some pretty fine sensibilities, as the British might have put it.

But I'm thinking far more prosaically. I'm thinking of the human drive to belong. Because our very survival has depended for so long on the cooperation of groups, I think it's embedded in our genes. Even well-fed and housed children, absent physical contact and affection, become mentally and physically stunted (as is true of apes and monkeys, the animals closest in nature to our own animal nature. This didn't come out of nowhere.)

And it's EXTREMELY rare for someone to cut themselves off from all human interaction, à la Theodore Kaczynski. Also isolation - 'solitary confinement' - is recognized as a severe form of punishment.

For the longest time our groupings were natural groupings - families, tribes, and villages. Or even churches and unions. But now we no longer have those lifetime ties.

So what takes their place, especially here in the US where society is predicated on the individual uber alles, and where technology has reduced dependence on particular relations with specific people? What happens in a situation where even family relations are contingent on likes and dislikes, jobs and geography? What happens when most people are adrift in a city of strangers?

I think we see the need to belong played out in the drive for some people to belong to churches, or others to belong to gangs. Still others belong to movements. People watch tv to be connected with others. Even asocial computer nerds belong to self-identified groups of asocial computer nerds. I think it's the reason for the rise of Facebook, Twitter, and other 'social media'. It's a way of belonging, no matter how tangentially and ephemerally.

Aside from a human blindness which tends to see all problems as a conflict with 'the other', and the tendency of people to react to concentrated resources with hierarchies, I think the need to belong is another element of 'human nature'.


Monday, October 9, 2017 9:02 PM


I would have to agree with the belonging assessment.


Wednesday, October 18, 2017 2:25 AM


On the gross sensibilities side,
I recall as a kid we said,
"No man is an Island ...
Except Orson Welles."
- 1915-1985 -

BUT he must have been a genius,
because he's still very famous.

... oooOO}{OOooo ...


Wednesday, October 18, 2017 9:08 AM


The Joss Whedon script for Serenity, where Wash lives, is Serenity-190pages.pdf at


Originally posted by 1kiki:

if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse . . .

John Donne had some pretty fine sensibilities, as the British might have put it.

Then there are other British sensibilities and meditations on death:

"If we were not forced to go until we were ready, the world would be mountain-deep with the ill-prepared." - Brian Aldiss, The Small Stones of Tu Fu

"There are currently seven billion people alive today and the Population Reference Bureau estimates that about 107 billion people have ever lived. This means that we are nowhere near close to having more alive than dead. In fact, there are 15 dead people for every person living." - BBC News, Feb 4, 2012, Do the dead outnumber the living?

The Joss Whedon script for Serenity, where Wash lives, is Serenity-190pages.pdf at






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