Farewell Bohemia

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA“I’ve never known a writer who didn’t feel ill at ease in the world. … We all feel un-housed in some sense. That’s part of why we write. We feel we don’t fit in, that this world is not our world, that though we may move in it, we’re not of it. … You don’t need to write a novel if you feel at home in the world.” -Andrea Barrett

Just ahead of us are two paths, the first one is to live unrestrained, a non-conscious entity, not to think of one’s actions, just do as a complete innocence of society who will in time follow the social structure that’s expected without question from birth to death… school, a good job, marriage, kids, retirement all fall between this pair of bookends without question of why are we here.

The second path is to live in the complete consciousness of life and what it brings to the table. Leaving everyone else at the horizontal level of being as you aim vertically. But as we can surmise, the vertical has its roots deep in society, a good thing as the roots of life are just as trenchant as the heights. Some would argue that this is where we get stuck if we’re not careful but this is anticipated. Detours are like questions, their not unexpected in this bohemian way of life as the rich loom of wisdom gathers around these roots.

In Thomas Mann’s Tonio Kroger, he argues that the artist suffers a non-life in order to create and they feel depressed when not creating as an actor without a part is suddenly a non-being, naked in front of the ordinary. On one hand, Tonio would like to enjoy the things of this world, and would love to participate but can’t bring himself to let go of his artistic asceticism. Just as still water finds its own level, this back and forth keeps Tonio’s thoughts focused above the circle that is his life.

Tonio’s questions are not just philosophical for his father was born into the same middle class that Tonio grew up in, enchanted as he is with their innocence. But it is his mother, an artist from the south that he has embraced. Some will say that he feels superior as an artist to his fathers’ people but if anything, Tonio admirers their unfeeling innocence, akin to a longing so great that he ventures back home, knowing he has changed and can never go back. For he’s lost the same innocence they still inhabit.

How many of us feel the same way as Tonio asserts. He longs to watch the innocents in others, to embrace it and create from it. To be a voyeur for creativity. He admires their joy and pain in equal measure for he knows that this is where he will find himself. Like a painter he is careful of every brush stroke he’ll make in life so as not to disturb a given situation, he’ll stay in the background, not speaking to preserve the creative moment.

Do you know of someone like Tonio? Or maybe there’s a little bit of Tonio in each of us?


*Photo courtesy of Stock Snap 

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I was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in October of 2012. These are my writings of life and love after the fall but during a time of deep creativity either because or in spite of my illness... Peace and Love... JC

17 thoughts on “Farewell Bohemia”

  1. This post had me at the quote by Andrea Barrett, or perhaps at its first sentence. I kept mumbling “yes” and “I know” to myself as I read, and, like Jeopardy, had my answer to the question you’d ask at the last..
    Great post- liked it a lot!


  2. I can relate to much of this. My sense of detachment comes from having a different point of view of the world. Oftentimes, people will say, “That’s an interesting perspective.” I believe it stems from what you’ve mentioned at the beginning, not really being a part of society and participating in “traditional” ways.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I know what you’re saying as I too grew up in an unconventional way. I just thought differently from others and always have. And that is ok but it took me a while to realize this… Thanks.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. This is so beautiful…and insightful. I feel that those of us who observe as artists and wish to create from the inspiration of who and what we observe live with a struggle, live often torn morally and spiritually because we are in danger of becoming disengaged with the world. It is hard to find a middle ground (and time) for working, parenting and creating but I think it’s critical…creative people can be the most inspiring humans 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Kate. I agree it’s hard to find middle ground as I will write and before I know it, it’s early morning or the opposite happens. It is a struggle, but one I’m willing to embrase. Or maybe I really don’t have a choice.


  4. There is a little bit of Toni in all of us, for we are all torn between two or more ways of being in some way. The beauty of Mann’s novella is that he shows how finding an equilibrium is impossible, and that some part of the self is always sacrificed.
    Of course this novella is autobiographical in some ways and Mann lived a really interning life trying to find the balance between his writing and his bourgeois life. He was committed to both and yet had to completely separate the two in order to do both. Sometimes I feel like that’s what I should do… separate my living from my work, but then it always feels like I’m denying a part of myself.
    Great choice. I love Tonio Kröger and Thomas Mann.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, Mann lived an interesting life. I believe that he and James Joyce turned the literary world upside down. Every so often, I have to read Tonio Kroger again. Also ‘The Magic Mountain’. Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Richard Bach says: “Rarely do members of one family grow up under the same roof.”, hence I hold forth that we seek our own tribe.
    Like so many I left to seek and found both brilliance and darkness, to me that was worth the leaving. The deep roots still do remain with the place and people I grew up.

    You return, love them, love the wild nature that is part of you but don’t expect them to understand why you left. That is o.k.
    Love when it is true is precious – even when not all is understood..I don’t even try. Just rest.

    Jeff, I love the video and song of Je suis de’sole’ . Thank you 🦋


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, I love the quote, so true.

      The song is about the Acadians who lived in and around Nova Scotia. Because of British persecutions, they left Canada and settled in and around south Louiana. These are my ancesters. And from Acadians we get Cajuns. 🙂


  6. JC, a very interesting post. I would hope there is a middle ground and I can empathise with Tonio, understand the distance, the observations of the world around. However, partaking in everyday life is key too and creativity can be found there too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Annika, I think there is a middle ground. In the end, Tonio still thought in terms of either this or that. He didn’t understand that just by observing, he was taking part in society. I think social media would have changed Thomas Mann’s thinking on this for we can interact with each other and exchange ideas across the globe. Yet a part of me still remains alienated especially from my family, I use to think I was adopted because I wanted to hang out in bookstores. What a strange kid that is 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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