She’s wearing a combat jacket and cuts her own hair, currently tied up behind a bandanna – you swear you had napkins of the same material once. Thin: she exists between strung-out, exhausted, and stoned; from time to time sparking evanescent flares of excitement. Strapped for cash, she casually peruses her options dumpster diving with less hesitation than you peruse the day-olds shelf. Yet she’s bought a three-dollar vegan chocolate-chip cookie to go with her artisanal coffee in a downtown café. During some of the unwieldy silences which smother our conversation I wonder whether it is because she is too dumb or I am too cynical (though my cynicism is only a most extreme form of optimism). But in times of uncertainty, prudence dictates that one give the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise. She’s an art-student like the kind you see shivering outside of the academy pinching a cigarette. It’s almost a required class. She’s bussed across the country to climb a mountain and live on an island. She goes to rallies and is into street art and righteous vandalism. Currently, a scheme is underway which will reap the clandestine money some loop-hole in the bureaucracy has accidentally entitled native born citizens: Freemen on the Land she says. Her explanation derails after colliding with the definition. Her boyfriend is the mastermind; you can’t just google this shit. People disappear. Proof, prudence, law, uncertainty: laws uncertain of certain laws on lawful certainty prudentially prove proof of law to be less than certain in no uncertain terms here. So I am meant to understand – I am not sure that I do.
She actually did it. She is one of the neo-bohemians. Coming from a well off home and a comfy petite-bourgeois life, she has opted for no more than a transient stability of residence and scowls at the offense of society. After a crash and burn year of life on her own, hers consists of maintaining school this time ‘round, an aloof though outwardly dedicated social circle, the drug culture, social and civic demonstrations, and the constant puzzlement of being. I list that fact last as though it provides impetus for all the preceding elements. It is the item with the least time and energy allotted. In fact, its solving is perhaps the most consciously averted of all goals. Any attempts are generally the consequence of depression, failure, or drugs and typically result in compounding phases of de facto nihilism.
Why? I thought this was the artistic dream in its purest form. The neo-bohemian is not happier than their brothers and sisters entrenched in the officially un-natural, corrupt, and unsustainable system. There is no Romanticism in her malcontent – perhaps the truly tragic element is this. Her self-fulfillment is fleeting at the best of times. Accomplishment only pays against the mortgage and causes a flinch-like reaction to party hard or get hard stoned ‘till you’re gone all soft. After a weekend of partying comes the yearning to complete neglected assignments and feel like she’s doing something with herself and becoming something. Once more, she sizes up the debt and hauls ass to the wrong class with a hangover and week-long comedown spilled all over her work and dribbling down her chin. Certainly though, with all due credit, she’s come a long way.
But wait…. These are the same pains as the hipsters, squares, elite and outcasts; all but the most prodigious and even then, their godly ranks are not immune. The same or perhaps an inverse system of gluttony and austerity: I eat rich animal flesh; the neo-bohemian scrounges wilting vegetables. You moderate most of your alcohol to wine with dinner and three beers at the pub while you talk about a good band you heard (unless it’s a special occasion to get stupid and the only drugs you take or “mistake” come from a little bottle from the pharmacy); the neo-bohemian camps out upstairs on a boycott of St. Patrick’s day (patron saint of love) with an indiscriminate forty until she’s forgotten the quaint enchantment that is human speech and the other higher brain functions and spends Sunday night ramped up on speed, recounting reality-rending old ladies at acid fueled protests. What I didn’t write earlier is just how scarily absent she was. So it seems we are endlessly fragmented, stretched impossibly thin, or our bones and our insides are broken up into pieces and our skins pulled taught across the scatter, hearts still puffing, barely visible: little rattling drums marching to an absurd eye-less discord. It’s soberingly cold outside the café tonight and it seems we are all waiting for summer.
That’s about it, really: We are all waiting for summer. I like that. It is simple, it’s sweet, and we are all waiting for summer. The structure of life is unchanged; the neo-bohemian only observes it from a converging perspective. Relief becomes raised, illuminated becomes obscured, and vice versa but the shape remains the same. We mount ostensibly opposed yet completely and integrally concomitant steps. Not necessarily climb or descent, but all us living mount or perch on it somewhere. The best part is that this structure exists in a gravitational mirror; the pull of gravity draws always from the center of its mass and towards the extremities. Envisage a globe steepled with pyramids outward from the infinity of possible angles across its spherical surface area. At its center is the cavity of all creation: the womb: Birth. It does not exert gravitational pull of its own equal to the surrounding outer space but does impede outward movement with a weight which pulls more than merely at the limbs, an ambivalent psychological commitment. In any given direction then, the Person moves, climbing and eventually sliding up or down and out along the ledged, creviced and plateaued walls of each geometric course of life. Bearing the course or swerving to another wall, even leaping from structure to structure – but always moving from inside-outwards at a variable but inexorable pace. It is impossible to know which way is proverbial “up” or tell it from likewise colloquial “down.” All that is certain is that the farther we move towards the extreme limits of the life structure, the stronger the pull of gravity, the gravity of death. It is a necessary force to complete the propulsive magnetism of life; it is the one sure thing that pushes most of us out of bed in the mornings: we live, we die. However, we still don’t know if after our struggle we’ll climb to such a point as to find a plateau or the zenith and slip in apotheosis into the sky, becoming stars; or if we’ll slide down into ruin, rubble, and the fossils of misery. The neo-bohemian doesn’t care to know, holding out. If it’s true, four months from now her being in will become her enlightenment – because we are all waiting for summer.