Sunday, November 25, 2007

The history of cool.

[T]he wise man should always follow the roads that have been trodden by the great, and imitate those who have most excelled, so that if he cannot reach their perfection, he may at least acquire something of its savour. Acting in this like the skillful archer, who seeing that the object he would hit is distant, and knowing the range of his bow, takes aim much above the destined mark; not designing that his arrow should strike so high, but that flying high it may alight at the point intended.
Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince, Chapter VI

For a while now, I’ve wanted to write a new blog series: “Famous International Playboys,” to pay an homage to those historical figures whom I have sought to emulate at various points in my life – whose works or lifestyles have inspired me somehow – and who have positively impacted my outlook in some way.

Apologies to Morrissey, “Famous International Playboy” is just a verbose way of saying “Byronic.” How badass do you have to have been when your name went on to become an adjective for “cool motherfucker”? For that reason, I have to make Lord Byron the focus of my inaugural column. Byron was famously described by Lady Caroline Lamb as “mad, bad, and dangerous to know.” And not only that; he was a pretty good writer. His poetry is pretty good to plagiarize if you need to write an epic love letter. Throughout my twenties, I secretly wanted to be described by someone as “Byronic” – ideally by a girl that was in love with me. Alas, I don’t think that’s ever happened. And now that I’m pretty jaded, I don’t really care how I’m described anymore. According to Wiki:

The Byronic hero presents an idealised but flawed character whose attributes include:

  • having great talent
  • exhibiting great passion
  • having a distaste for society and social institutions
  • expressing a lack of respect for rank and privilege
  • thwarted in love by social constraint or death
  • rebelling
  • suffering exile
  • hiding an unsavoury past
  • arrogance, overconfidence or lack of foresight
  • ultimately, acting in a self-destructive manner

Jaded or not, my hat tips to Lord Byron, the consummate Famous International Playboy who set the stage for countless many more to follow and aspire.

2 comments:

Jamm-o-rama said...

After reading the attributes I have decided I could be a Lady Byroness.

Jack Gordon said...

Beautiful.