The Current Isolationism by Camille Rankine explores the impacts of anxiety, the poet staying inside and away from others. It details how she feels mentally, at first showing how comfortable she is on her own and then moving on to the chaos of the outside world.
Explore The Current Isolationism
For Camille Rankine, anxiety has reduced her into someone who would prefer to be alone, without any contact from other humans or with nature. She feels less human when in public, not wanting to see anyone or talk to anyone due to being afraid. Rankine discusses these fears and ideas within the poem, establishing the narrative that something once happened to her to make her afraid of other people. Instead, she will stay in her house, where she can control the temperature and the light, contently passing her days sitting in silence.
The Current Isolationism is divided into nine stanzas, all written in tercets, measuring 3 lines each. There is no rhyme scheme within the poem, the style often instead flowing quickly on, focusing more on the meter than rhyming. Due to the seeming chaos of the outside world and the slight ‘stain’ on Rankine’s mind, it is appropriate that she has used a structure that has no points of cohesion, adding to the chaotic narrative.
You can read the full poem The Current Isolationism here.
One of the main techniques which Rankine uses within The Current Isolationism is anthropomorphism. This arrives in the form of Rankine making herself seem like an animal when out in public, she feels less human and less comfortable. The public, external, Rankine in these moments becomes like ‘birds’, easily scared away by other approaching her. The only time she really feels human is when she is alone in her house, where she can control her surroundings and feel completely comfortable.
Another technique that Rankine employs is using caesuras throughout her poem. These caesuras are full stops or commas in the middle of lines, disrupting the flow of the poem. In doing this, the pace of the poem is disjointed and confused, reflecting the mindset of the poet. Her anxiety is manifested within these pauses, changing and disrupting her lifestyle.
The Current Isolationism Analysis
The Current Isolationism begins with a calm atmosphere, Rankine is ‘most/at home’ and enjoying her time alone. It seems that for the poet, being alone is something that comforts her. Indeed, she enjoys the ‘half-light’, the ‘shadow’ all she needs as company.
The ‘half-light’ is something she can control, and something soothing and unobtrusive. The darkness would insinuate to many people a symbol of sadness or melancholia. Yet, it is something that Rankine actively strives for, enjoying the soothing ‘shadow’.
The structure of this stanza is compact, the lines being of the shortest of The Current Isolationism. On the page, it visually looks small and compacted, perhaps reflecting the poet occupying a tiny space as she avoids exposure to the outside world. She is content in her compact space, living alone is something she loves and enjoys.
She is in control of the temperature and the light, with just a push of ‘a button’, she can change the internal temperature to whatever she likes. Being inside is comforting to her, knowing everything she will face allows her the peace of mind to be introspective and work on herself.
Indeed, there is something slightly off about this stanza, a panic being introduced to the atmosphere. The ‘strain on my mind’ seems to come out of nowhere, pushing its way into the middle of the stanza and blocking out the control she once focused on.
Something is bothering Rankine, something internal which she is battling. This can be assumed to be anxiety, based on the rest of The Current Isolationism and her avoidance of others and events that could worry her.
Stanza Three, Four & Five
Rankine discusses how she feels less than human, someone that only ‘seems’ real. Perhaps she is dealing with a form of impostor syndrome, adding to her mental worries. Something has made her afraid of others, she describes herself as ‘A flock of birds’, something that ‘scatters’ when ‘touched’. She is skittish, afraid of contact with others, perhaps a past event has inspired her love of being alone. She finds these qualities within her more animal than human, animalizing herself in order to detach herself even further from others. Using this poetic technique, she furthers the layer of distancing, avoiding others even by association. She won’t approach others if they are looking at her, staying away at all costs, ‘I won’t approach until the back is turned’.
She is nervous around others, ‘I am afraid’, seemingly detaching from herself when in the presence of others, being more animal from human. Although she does not want to admit this, her ‘heart betrays’, beating too fast and giving her away.
Stanza Six and Seven
Rankine only feels herself becoming more like herself again when alone in her sound, ‘the distance between our bodies’, the ‘our’ here defining herself, and this animalistic distanced version of herself. She prefers to stay inside where she is comfortable instead of venturing outside. She sits in ‘a long passageway’, the light from the window shining down upon her and illuminating her ‘pose’.
Stanza Eight and Nine
At this point in The Current Isolationism, she discusses her garden. It is seemingly overgrown, not frequently going outside to see it the plants are ‘always in bloom’. This could be seen as disorder, or alternatively as a sign that nature thrives when left alone by humanity.
She does not like the outside world, seeing threats and being overwhelmed constantly. Indeed, she has the dogs ‘chained’ up as she is worried they will ‘attack’ her. Locking them at a distance so she doesn’t have to come into contact with her.
The sounds of the outside world cause her anxiety. She hears ‘honeybees’ in the next garden over and determines that ‘their sound is huge’. Although it is just a light buzzing, it is something unbearable for her. She would prefer to be inside, where everything and anything is at her control. The outside world seems too loud and dangerous, better stay home.