bagheeraface

Who’s a bohemian?

In Art, Culture, Curious Notions, Drink on December 4, 2010 at 3:00 am

I’ve been reading this book on the bohemian lifestyle called Among the Bohemians: Experiments in Living: 1900-1939. It reminds me of a prose version of the Broadway play Rent in that it both inspires and pisses me off.

The book is 290 pages in length (not counting appendices and index) and while I am only 39 pages in to it, what I will say on “bohemia” and “la vie boheme” is this: it is romantic. It also demands a certain naivete. A form of naivete I find both adorable (inspiring) and irritating (it pisses me off).

Why?

Cover photograph from "Among the Bohemians" by Virginia Nicholson. Photo by Peregrine McClean.

Because who doesn’t want to live the bohemian lifestyle? It is, in many ways, the ultimate “progressive” ideal. Free love, intellectualism, creativity, art, adventure, pure philosophy, individualism (but also strongly based in community), new ideas, less materialism. As Craig Ferguson(yes, the talk show host) said in a recent Doctor Who-themed opener: “the triumph of intellect and romance over brute force and cynicism.”

While that phrase does resonate with me, the problem with any “progressive” idea is that it’s relative. It’s relative in that what is “progressive” to me, may be conservative to someone else. I have little doubt that my friend Charles (who posts on here from time to time) would agree. I’m sure he and I could be quite bohemian in discussing this topic, as well: jazz music on the iPod, red wine in glasses, stretched out on my living room rug or his old living room couch.

What is “progressive?” Can anyone answer me with their own opinion? I submit that to you, my readers…

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