Thomas Merton, Journals, vol. 7, p. 276:
The point of solitude is to preserve myself from a certain sort of contagion.
I would add that being alone is not enough if you are feeding on media dreck 'in solitude.' For then you are exposed to the contagion of 'discourse' that agitates but does not enlighten.
Why am I fascinated by the oftentimes flaky Merton? Because he is not just a flaky fellow. And he has 'Sixties' written all over him. Attention to his work and his shift in views is necessary for a deep understanding of that pivotal decade.
His journals are a delight. There is where the man himself dwells.