"The true solitary is not called to an illusion, to the contemplation of himself as solitary. He is called to the nakedness and hunger of a more primitive and honest condition. The condition of a stranger (xeniteia) and a wanderer on the face of the earth, who has been called out of what was familiar to him in order to seek strangely and painfully after he knows not what ...
"In the eyes of our conformist society, the hermit is nothing but a failure. He has to be a failure - we have absolutely no use for him, no place for him. He is outside all our projects, plans, assemblies, movements. We can countenance him as long as he remains only a fiction, or a dream. As soon as he become real, we are revolted by his insignificance, his poverty, his shabbiness, his total lack of status. Even those who consider themselves contemplatives, often cherish a secret contempt for the solitary. For in the contemplative life of the hermit there is none of that noble security, that intelligent depth, that artistic finesse which the more academic contemplative seeks in his sedate respectability."
-- Thomas Merton, Notes for a Philosophy of Solitude, in the book
Disputed Questions (New York: Farrar, Straus and Cudahy, 1960) pp.