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GEDANKENEXPERIMENTE

I WAS NEAR to dozing off when I fell into thought experiments. Gedankenexperimente, Einstein called them; so I was in lofty company, even though sheltering-in.

The Chocolate Chip Cookie Gedankenexperiment. One of my near-dozing Gedankenexperimente had to do with chocolate chip cookies and the distribution and density of their chocolate chips.

Social distancing? Or maybe it was the Met-opera-streaming midnight snack I had just enjoyed.

Image from bettycrocker.com

I was in the midst of devising a protocol for baking batches of chocolate chip cookies with precisely varying densities of chips…. Then I dozed off for a while.

The Lockdown Gedankenexperiment. My woke state (as kids term it) returned briefly with thoughts of some folks getting antsy about sheltering-in.

Having traveled extensively while working at R&T, I’m now perfectly happy to avoid scheduling and rescheduling, packing and unpacking, TCA lines, airplanes, and all the rest. A chocolate chip cookie metaphor: I have enjoyed cookies crammed full of chocolate chips; these days I’m not disappointed with fewer trips. Er… chips.

Then I mused, am I much bothered by loneliness? Which got me thinking about Paul Tillich.

Paul Johannes Tillich, 1886–1965, German-born American Protestant theologian and existential philosopher, considered one of the most influential theologians of the twentieth century. Image from catholicherald.co.uk.

It was Paul Tillich who wrote, “Our language has wisely sensed these two sides of man’s being alone. It has created the word ‘loneliness’ to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word ‘solitude’ to express the glory of being alone.”

I believe this was when I confidently fell asleep until the BBC World Service news at 13:00 GMT.

Celebrity Denkenexperimente. Once awake and functioning, I confirmed the wording of that Tillich quote. Sure enough, it was as I had remembered it from years ago.

Also encountered in my Googling “loneliness vs solitude,” I came on other celebrity musings to share:

Jean-Paul Sartre: “If you’re lonely when you’re alone, you’re in bad company.”

I like this one. Sartre isn’t exactly a regular visitor to SimanaitisSays, though his existentialist novel La Nausée, in both the original French and its English translation, was discussed here in ”The Dunning-Kruger Effect, Me, and John Cleese.”

Audrey Hepburn: “I have to be alone often. I’d be quite happy if I spent from Saturday night until Monday morning in my apartment. That’s how I refuel.”

Gregory Peck (6 ft. 3 in.) maneuvers out of Eddie Albert’s Fiat Topolino 500B as Audrey Hepburn watches. Image from Roman Holiday 1953.

One of my favorite Audrey Hepburn flicks is Roman Holiday. What about you?

Winston Churchill: “Solitary trees, if they grow at all, grow strong.”

Voltaire. “The happiest of all lives is a busy solitude.”

François-Marie Arouet, pen name Voltaire, 1694–1778, French writer, historian, philosopher of the Enlightenment. Famed for his attacks on religion and for his advocacy of freedom of speech and for the separation of church and state.

Voltaire’s Candide is, in a way, a delightful counterexample of solitude. Though mathematician Blaise Pascal expressed sentiments similar to Voltaire’s.

Blaise Pascal: “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”

Or, on a cynical side….

Oscar Wilde: “A bore is someone who deprives you of solitude without providing you with company.”

My concluding tidbit here has nothing to do with loneliness nor solitude. It is, however, an example of the serendipity of occasional Gedankenexperimente.

Mark Twain: “I did not attend his funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.”

This one made me laugh. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2020

One comment on “GEDANKENEXPERIMENTE

  1. Paul M Everett
    May 18, 2020

    Another take on solitude:
    “Some of my pleasantest hours were during the long rainstorms in the spring or fall, which confined me to the house for the afternoon as well as the forenoon, soothed by their ceaseless roar and pelting; when an early twilight ushered in a long evening in which many thoughts had time to take root and unfold themselves.”
    from Henry David Thoreau, in the chapter on Solitude, in “Walden.”

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