forcible hermit removal

Apparently even living on a deserted island no longer guarantees one’s freedom.

a profile of the translator ‘red pine’

Bill Porter

Bill Porter (“Red Pine”). translator of Chinese texts and poetry, and author of the 1993 book Road to Heaven: Encounters with Chinese Hermits

(click image to read the article; found via The Hermitary see also: Lion’s Roar article)

“It simply became too much for me.”

Swiss nun quits hermit post

As reported in 2014, the Verena Hermitage in Switzerland had announced a job search for a resident hermit. The position called for a solitary who nevertheless could entertain visitors to the historic church and grounds and maintain popular interest in the centuries-old site. The administrators of the church and hermitage selected Sister Benedikta, but the arrangement did not work out as the publicity about the hermitage and the new hermit resident brought an unexpectedly large number of visitors. Sister Benedikta quit after 18 months.

“I never had a problem with the number of people who came for spiritual advice or pastoral care,” she told the 20 Minuten newspaper. But other visitors were just nosy, and wanted to see what a hermit was like or to have a chat. “It simply became too much for me,” she said.

(via the hermitary)


From The Quick and the Dead by Joy Williams:

[Alice, Corvus, and Annabel are discussing their upcoming wilderness ‘retreat’ while sitting in Annabel’s living room with her father Carter, when he suddenly jumps up and runs outside to meet the gardener Donald who’s just driven up to the house.]

‘Is he still the gardener?’ Alice asked.

‘Of course he’s still the gardener. What do you mean?’ Annabel was looking at the hiking boots she’d just bought for this expedition. Never in her life had she encountered anything so totally without charm.

‘Well, there doesn’t seem much left to do around here. It all looks pretty nice.’

‘Some people get very involved in gardening, Alice. It can become a lifelong obsession. Sometimes they just move rocks around together. Donald is a big believer in fighting ass … acidGod, what is that word?’

Acedia,’ Corvus said.

‘That’s right! You are so good, Corvus. You could go on Jeopardy or something. It means sloth, right?’

‘It means more like experiencing the moment as an oppressive weight. It means listlessness of spirit.’ Corvus pushed a fallen wing of black hair behind her ear.

Annabel didn’t know what else to do, so she smiled generously. ‘Well, he’s got Daddy moving those rocks, all right.’

Further reading on acedia from The HermitaryAcedia, Bane of Solitaries

Is not acedia the original perception of alienation and revolt against complacency and the burdens of culture? Is it the angst of Kierkegaard, the ‘nausea’ of Sartre, the alienation and revolt of existentialists from Camus to Marcel? Acedia is never without a sense of guilt or complicity, not as sin but as complicity in the horrors of contemporary life. To the modern mind, acedia remains real and relevant. It is a personal statement against the contrivances of culture, the hypocrisy of public morality, alienation from the natural patterns of nature and simplicity.


Acedia can have a strong spiritual component in the life of the one who experiences it, and that very component makes acedia the sign of great potential for insight and wisdom. The solitary need not fear acedia. Acedia, at a minimum, signifies no complacency or superficial contentment with the contemporary cultural order. Acedia can be a tacit expectation that life can be better, or at least better understood.

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