Walter Morris may count as an early bourgeois bohemian, a 'BoBo' to adopt and adapt a coinage of David Brooks. Morris is an exceedingly obscure diarist, known only to a few, but a kindred spirit. An e-mail from a distant relative of his caused me to dip again into the stimulating waters of his journal.
I have already presented his thoughts on solitude. That post also provided some information on the man and his writings. What follows is part of an entry from 8 February 1947. (Notebook 2: Black River, limited edition, mimeographed, Englewood NJ, 1949. It contains journal entries from 25 June 1942 to 3 August 1947.)
The Bohemian way of living has its points, but I am unable to appreciate Bohemia at full tilt. I have never had it that way and, except for a very youthful period, I have never much wanted it that way. I like cleanliness of body and living quarters, not a fanatical 100% cleanliness, not a sterile and perfect order, but such cleanliness as is compatible with normal comfortable living. I dislike messy emotional relationships and all kinds of exhibitionism. I dislike vomiting drunks, people with the monkey on their backs, flaunting homosexuality, financial dishonesty, irresponsibility, and puerile minds posing as advanced and liberated. This is the measure of my Respectability and middle-classness. Otherwise -- in being devoted to my own pattern, in quietly ignoring some White Cows instead of ostentatiously mounting a rebellion -- I don't mind at all being called Bohemian. Our family dish, as a matter of [f]act, could stand a dash of that kind of sauce. (p. 206)
I recall a quotation from Gustave Flaubert along similar lines: "Be regular and orderly in your life like a bourgeois, so that you may be violent and original in your work."
I love reading journals, both of the famous and of the obscure. Among the latter, I find my own especially intriguing for some reason. Here is an excerpt from Journal of a Discarded Man by one Walter Morris. He was in his mid-fifties at the time of this entry and has recently lost his job:
29 December 1962, Saturday. Five more makes sixty. This thing is moving right along. At twenty-one I thought I was going to be twenty-one forever.("The feeling of immortality in youth," as old Hazlitt put it.) At thirty, one is taken aback; at forty, startled; at fifty, incredulous and depressed. Midway between fifty and sixty, time’s fleet foot seems fully revealed and I see no logical reason for being taken by surprise from now on out – but who’s logical? Today is a day for homilies and platitudes, old saws and bitter-sweet droppings. "If I had to do it all over again. . ." "If I knew then what I know now. . ." These pious exercises are all right, though. They take us away from our close work and present a vista, and in this focus Everyman is a philosopher.
All right. If I had to do it over again, I’d learn a trade (for bread and butter) and for the high, orbital shot I’d concentrate on painting. The pip-squeak world of the white-collar employee I’d avoid like the plague. This is hindsight, pure, fatuous and futile. . . (From Michael Rubin, Men Without Masks: Writings from the Journals of Modern Men, Addison-Wesley, 1980, p. 194.)
Walter Morris is an exceedingly obscure author whom the Maverick Philosopher has decided to take under his wing and rescue from total oblivion. When I get through with him at least some excerpts from his journals will be in range of the search engines. Please contact me if you know anything about this fellow. He is the author of American in Search of a Way (Macmillan, 1942) and The Journal of a Discarded Man (Englewood, N.J.: Knabe-North Publishers, 1965). I have found nothing on the World Wide Web pertaining to either of these books apart from what I myself have posted. Luckily, the Arizona State University library contains a copy of his Notebook 2: Black River (limited edition, mimeographed, Englewood, NJ, 1949). It has been languishing in the ASU collection since 19 March 1956 on which date it was cataloged by one F. B. Morgan. I'd put money on the proposition that I am the only one ever to have read it.
All right Walter, with the MP as master of ceremonies, you are about to enter the 'sphere.