So my sweetheart expressed joy in reading my blog daily. It reminded her of my OK Cupid daily entries except, she observed, you don’t talk about love.
Should I talk about love?
I want you to blog me a love letter every day. Only then it would get boring. Maybe every other day.
OMG I have to be romantic now!
So… Romance. The first thing that comes to mind is the Brazilian Helicopter Pilot from Inside Out (Come fly with me, Gardenia!). And everybody swoons.
I don’t consider Giacomo Casanova a romantic so much as someone who had some adventures and got laid a bit. (Benjamin Franklin also fits into this mold.) A life well lived, but not particularly romantic. It’s not Brazilian-Helicopter-Pilot romantic.
Percy Bysshe Shelley, now there‘s a man who is romantic! Belletrist dilettante, master poet, errant bohemian,* gothic librettist! We just don’t have the words! And look at him! Such Adonisian allure. A fellow such as myself is not even in the same order of magnitude.** Romantic!
(He also wrote about economics and was an inspiration to Karl Marx. And wrote on nonviolent resistance which would influence Leo Tolstoy and Mahatma Gandhi. Romantic and badass.)
On the other hand, Mr. Shelley was mad. Raving. As a hatter. As in getting snookered on absinthe and wine, climbing onto the turret spires and howling at the thunderstorm mad. His means of courting Mary was to threaten suicide if she refused. Of course being a master lyricist, he expressed his ultimatum so elegantly that she could only swoon and agree. (Also corsets, which confer a bonus to swooning.)
So here’s the thing:
Impassioned artistic angst might be sexy on occasion, but when it’s accompanied with public outbursts or spells of inebriation or behavior that puts life and limb at risk, that sort of thing can run thin. At this point I know that when I must suffer for my art, my internal torments are equally as fruitful when done in the privacy and safety of my own home as they would be out on full display, staring danger in the face, and inviting disaster for tea.
Though, to complete the context, this wisdom — learning that drama fuels artistic creation whether or not I make everyone else stare at it — was obtained through time and experience that poor Percy did not get to enjoy. He failed to outrun a storm while sailing for Lerici in the Gulf of Spezia in July of 1822, only a month from turning thirty.
In my twenties, I wasn’t quite Percy Shelley crazy, but I was pretty darned crazy. I had different drama, and thankfully the kinds that didn’t put me on slippery mannerhouse rooftops (though I did once outrun a storm at sea). My escapades were cause for embarrassment nonetheless. In a few cases, cause enough to bring people to reflect on whether or not associating with me was a good idea. Trial and error, we learn from consequences. It is fortunate for me that I survived losing my youth and beauty and held out long enough to pick up experience and treachery to compensate for it.†
Because if I’m going to go around comparing myself to people like Percy Bysshe Shelley, I’m going to be doing a lot of compensating.
* Yes, lower-case, as in the counter culture. As in Bohemian Rhapsody, except that’s upper-case because it’s the title of a song. Early bohemians modeled themselves after a generational subculture among young people some of whom originated in Bohemia and would say as much as they passed through Paris. When the bohemian movement finally blossomed, there were very few Bohemian bohemians. Most bohemians were Parisian. And Scaramouch could even do the Fandango, though he’d need a partner. Maybe Harlequin.
I’m not sure if Gothic, referring to Gothic fiction — itself referring to Gothic revivalist architecture (other people making buildings the way Goths once did) which are typically featured in Gothic fiction — Gets the same case demotion. Wikipedia is inconsistent.
** To be fair, in my twenties I had a resemblance to Charles Swinburne, including fabulous 80s metal rockstar hair. It was a thing.
† And patience. Patience allows for proper timing, and is critical for the smooth and effective implementation of any master plan, as you will all soon discover. Yes! Soon!
Oh, also, not gloating. Much.
Image is a delightful art piece of the Villa Diodati in Cologny, Switzerland. Lord Byron rented the estate for part of 1816, which was the venue for the most romantic (or at least most romanticist) writing group ever. Artist credit and original source are unknown, the internet being what it is.