Isoloation carved me in its own image. The presence of another person- of only one person no matter who- immediately slows down my thinking, and, to the same degree that contact with someone else for a normal man is a stimulus to expression and speech, in me that contact is a counter-stimulant, if in fact that compound word is a linguistic possibility. I am capable, alone, by myself, of thinking up innumerable witty remarks, quick retorts to what no one said, fulminations of an intelligent sociability involving no one at all; but all this disappears if I am in the presence of a physical otherness. I lose my intelligence, I become incapable of speech, and, after a few fifteen-minute periods, I only feel sleepy. Yes, that’s right, talking with people makes me want to sleep. Only my spectral, imagined friends, only the conversations I’ve had that result from sleep have a genuine reality and stand out properly, and in them the spirit is present like an image in a mirror.
Moreover, I am bothered by the idea of being forced into contact with someone. A simple invitation to dine with a friend provokes in me an anguish it would be hard to define. The idea of any social obligation – going to a funeral, discussing an office matter face-to-face with someone, going to the station to wait for someone I know or don’t know – the mere idea disturbs a whole day’s thoughts. Sometimes I am concerned all through the night and sleep badly. And the real thing, when it happens, is absolutely insignificant, justifying nothing; and the thing that repeats itself and I don’t ever learn to learn.
“My habits are of solitude, not the company of men.” I don’t know if it was Rousseau or Senancour who said that. But it was a spirit of my species – I can’t say of my race.
-The book of Disquiet p. 164-165