Friday, 27 December 2013

The Bohemian impulse

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The Bohemian impulse, which is also Romanticism, has a perennial appeal - perhaps especially to young men (and young men have great power in society).

And the appeal is real and has great Good in it - and that good is the experience of liberation from corruptly oppressive social structures and practices and the opening-out of the mind into intellectual adventure and endeavor.

Albeit in practice the Bohemian is extremely prone to corruption, indeed perhaps intrinsically and necessarily prone to corruption; and especially via sexual revolution, but also by drugs (intoxication with alcohol and other substances) - and in general break down into selfish short-termist mutual exploitation, or mere idleness, then squalid inertia.

Indeed, so swiftly and so surely is the Bohemian life corrupted, that it can be hard to distinguish that first pure and delightsome phase of creative 'opening-out' from its inevitable corruption. Yet it is real and good and accounts for the perennial nature of the Bohemian life - under certain facilitating conditions.

The Bohemian life in this good aspect is indeed an indicator of the corruptions of organized and dominant Religious life, its over-reach and crudeness of application - it tendency to assume that one size fits all and to crush the individual spirit into the predetermined shape. Its tendency to embrace death: in such a situation the pure Bohemian impulse is a upwelling of sheer life.

This group-versus-individual conflict may be deformed into being purely a matter of sexual constraint, and that is what it rapidly becomes; but in its origin in some people the conflict is not about sex but about the creative spirit.

There are indeed many religions and denominations which make zero provision for the creative spirit, and since the creative spirit is rare this lack is sustainable - yet the creative spirits have a power to burst from such constraint and by their example and arguments (including both valid arguments and dishonest rationalizations) may indirectly cause all manner of problems to the constraining religion over the medium to long term.

Thus any religion must either crush the creative spirit ruthlessly; or have the flexibility to treat the individual Bohemian whose motivation is truly creative and intellectual, as a different case from the individual whose underlying real Bohemian drive is for sexual liberty and escape from moral truth.

Such individual sensitivity and flexibility combined with firm religious principle is a product of individual human judgement, and that alone - it cannot be legislated nor captured in rules and procedures which will either be to oppressive or too weak.

And the proper balance, the ideal balance, can only be achieved in religions and denominations which on the one hand are strong and centred such as to hold their course despite changes; and on the other hand genuinely value creative freedom and possibility.

A religion which sees Goodness only in obedience cannot achieve this balance and must ruthlessly oppress or else soon be subverted by its intellectuals, while a religion which fails to distinguish the free creative spirit from the covert libertine, psychopath or parasite is doomed to disintegration.