Bohemian: /boʊˈhimiən/ [boh-HEE-mee-uhn]
- a native or inhabitant of Bohemia, a region in the western part of what is now the Czech Republic.
- (usually lowercase) a person, as an artist or writer, whose way of life is generally unconventional or avant-garde, and who acts free of regard for conventional rules and practices.
In my youthful, dark and distant past, my close friends and I lived a somewhat bohemian existence in Toronto for a good many years.
It was fun. We created works of art, acted, sang and/or danced in theatrical productions, wrote, walked down runways with designer clothes on, snapped photos of those who walked down runways with designer clothes on, and chiselled or carved sculptures. Some of us spread (or sprayed) paint on various objects. We all had what could be described as only a nodding acquaintance with ‘The Real World’ but, seriously, for all intents and purposes we were never really a part of it. We didn’t have ‘real’ jobs like nurses or bank tellers or teachers. We didn’t own cars or homes or pay mortgages.
Few of us were married. None of us had children. Because our incomes were so low, I expect that most other ‘normal’ people gave out more in tips than we paid in taxes. When it came to relationships, it was almost like every year or so, someone from on high would blow a silent whistle and all of us would simply exchange partners. It was a very insular and somewhat incestuous group in that regard because we lived in a tiny little world with very little contact with reality.
We were actors, singers, dancers, models, stage managers, lighting designers, poets, performance artists, writers, independent filmmakers, photographers and various other persons skilled in creative activity. We made our living, such as it was, in the arts. Virtually all of us came from humble (i.e. poor) backgrounds so the whole ‘starving artist’ thing was not all that different to us than our childhoods. We were bohemians although we never referred to ourselves as such.
What we, or at least I, did not see in those days, and what seems to me to be more prevalent today, is the emergence of the ‘fauxhemian’… the bogus bohemian… the ersatz artiste… the imitation iconoclast. Perhaps I led a sheltered artistic life. Perhaps I was too broke to mingle with wealthy wannabees.
Fauxhemians, as far as I can tell, do not reject society and its morals nor do they lead particularly avant-garde lifestyles… at least not under their own steam. They wear designer ‘starving artiste’ clothing and have their apartments paid for courtesy of the old family coffers or even their own trust funds. They produce nothing… or rather nothing of any use… but excel at looking the part. “All hat and no cattle,” as they say down in Texas.
A real honest-to-goodness live starving artist won’t shell out over five bucks for a grande caramel macchiato, let alone wear an ensemble from Aritisia while doing it. A fauxhemian will, though. Especially when Daddy is picking up the tab!
So why should I, a former bohemian, give a flying fig about what a bunch of overly-privileged suburban wannebees do when they are downtown pretending to be artists? After all, they are merely caricatures of themselves, no?
I care because they diminish and dilute the brand, as it were. They cheapen the truth and water it down by their outright deceit or, at best, their self-delusion. The counterfeit always runs the risk of making the real thing look fake as well.
My bohemian days were joyful, rich, creative and jubilant despite the poverty not because of it. And it burns me to think that someone is tarnishing those days for me by ‘acting’ like a poor artist. They don’t balance function with form… they replace function with form!
Stand united, normal people, and refuse to tolerate this blight on the artistic landscape!
Just say “No!” to fauxhemians!