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Bohemia–a country of the mind

Street scene - Bohemia

A featured article by Mike Maynard


Bohemianism is the practice of an unconventional lifestyle, often in the company of like-minded people, with few permanent ties, involving musical, artistic, or literary pursuits. In this context, Bohemians may be wanderers and adventurers. (Wikipedia)

The term Bohemianism emerged in France in the early nineteenth century when artists and creators began to concentrate in the lower-rent, lower class, Romany neighbourhoods. The Romany people were considered romantic, that’s where the word originates. The ‘Bohemians’ were poor artists and writers, but they were focused on by fashionable newspapers and magazines. They lived a thrifty and frugal lifestyle and aspired to an  artistic elite rather than a social elite.  They immersed themselves in a literary world of writers, an artistic world of like minded artists and with that came the culture and the music.  There was also the Bohemian style of dress which was very romantic and retro.

Through the twentieth century this Bohemian phenomenon was been seen with mostly young creative people adopting a similar way of life and style, making retro fashionable. They reject the manufactured and mass marketed fashions, they reject the brainwashing of the multinational, multimedia moguls who control what the masses think. They are free-thinkers who think what they like and are free to be different.

The Bohemianism of the twenty first century is turning it’s back on the aspirational message being pumped out by the media that we should all aspire to be more socially acceptable. Bohemianism is an elite anyone with culture and taste can join. Anyone who appreciates good music, anyone who enjoys art, anyone who feels different and not one of the mass media sheep, can be Bohemian. The badge of Bohemia is a different style of dress that screams individuality. The culture of Bohemia is thrifty and frugal, but rich in culture. The return of Bohemianism isn’t just a way of accepting art and culture, it is a way of surviving in an increasingly greed driven world. It is a way of rejecting the ugly face of capitalism, while not embracing communism either. It is for people who reject the divisions in society and accept anyone despite their differences. Whether the culture is Bollywood music and dance or typically English landscape painting, we accept the need for self expression.  It is about creativity and a creative way of life. A British government minister condemned ‘media studies’ in schools, thinking science was more important. Science gives us stereo systems, creativity gives us the music to play on them. They are both important.  Many people want to live in the new Bohemia; the country of the mind.

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