Today's popular association of "Bohemian" with down-and-out types (think of the musical, "Rent") fails to encompass the host of artists, scholars and adventurers who conjured up that term for earlier generations.
Given that 'starving artists' is an age-honored phrase that is not without meaning, the cost of nearly everything today is one reason why it is harder to find community in shared places. The jazz clubs, coffee houses and folk singers, art exhibits, local theatre, chamber music, top balcony opera seats, poetry readings, lectures, and nearly every other diversion and meeting place are no longer the casual expenses they once were--nor is their quality as consistently attractive. The discovery of the joy of the arts by the middle class has found price rising to meet demand. Except at the star level, most of that revenue goes to impresarios and not to artists.
The fragmentation of society is also a trend that is hostile to any sense of community. The great awakening of the 1960s and early 1970s, a gift of the Beat Generation to their successors, was iconoclastic in its truest dictionary sense. Those who were liberated became more self-centered, and those whose icons were smashed became more reactionary.
Among the free, there came to be more connection among those who had similar interests. Dancers consorted less often with adventurers, craftsmen or writers than they had in an earlier age. Society at large, finding itself pushed to reaction against both personal and political styles it found troubling, began to look everywhere at differences it could turn into divisions. After a quarter century of this, whether one was a goth or a preppie in high school became a matter of deadly seriousness.
Our world changed on September 11, 2001. The cracks and fissures in our society I think secretly shamed us, as we saw the chasm that separates all of us from those filled with hate for differentness. I think we have silently resolved, each of us, to do our part to view our own differences with charity, and with a mind that is ready to celebrate many of them.
Nevertheless, I know I saw more different people--women, couples, and men, of all ages--traveled more, and discovered more forty years ago than I do in todays more "connected" age. That can't be right. Can it? email@example.com .