Called a flâneur in print. Looked it up. “Witty, insouciant, man of the world.” Like that very much. Also, “not serious.” Like that even better. It is like being a dandy without having to pay tailoring bills. An element of pose and nothing, such as earnestness, to mar the effect. Also, though this the dictionary does not say, someone who sees through appearances and who refuses to abide by the dull rules.
From the New Yorker’s profile of L.A. food critic Jonathan Gold:
For years, Gold’s itinerant eating seemed purposeless; then, suddenly, as with the hungry caterpillar in the Eric Carle book, there was a glorious, fully realized point to it. John Powers, a film critic who met Gold at the Weekly in the mid-eighties, when Gold was a proofreader there, says, “He has the flâneur instinct. In all those years, when his peers were very busy professionally writing, Jonathan was professionally wandering around not writing. By background, inclination, and practice, he has always been the one who knows the most stuff close to the ground.”
While Baudelaire characterized the flâneur as a “gentleman stroller of city streets”, he saw the flâneur as having a key role in understanding, participating in and portraying the city. A flâneur thus played a double role in city life and in theory, that is, while remaining a detached observer. This stance, simultaneously part of and apart from, combines sociological, anthropological, literary and historical notions of the relationship between the individual and the greater populace. After the 1848 Revolution in France, after which the empire was reestablished with clearly bourgeois pretensions of “order” and “morals”, Baudelaire began asserting that traditional art was inadequate for the new dynamic complications of modern life. Social and economic changes brought by industrialization demanded that the artist immerse himself in the metropolis and become, in Baudelaire’s phrase, “a botanist of the sidewalk”.
Clearly, I must append the list of jobs to which I’m best suited:
- Enfant terrible