Friday, February 18, 2005

Become an Esteemed Intellect of the Italian Renaissance!

It's easy! This is all you need to do:

1) Be a man. Women who read are shrews and whores.

2) Come from an ancient aristocratic family that has fallen on hard times, so that you can understand the common people, yet treat them all with condescension.

3) Study law until you realize it's really boring, and then give in to your political and literary ambitions. During this time it is best to be a profligate youth. You should try, if possible, to fall in love with a married woman with whom you have no actual interaction whatsoever, so that you may celebrate her perfection in sonnet form, unsullied by, you know, a relationship of any kind. Best to pick someone who will die while still reasonably pretty.

4) Get forced to flee from somewhere. Being banished from Florence is popular, but Rome will do. This is best done by publishing metrical epistles to the Pope in which you state that the Pope's soul "is already in hell while his body on earth is controlled by Satan." Very effective. Also: always pick the losing faction in a struggle for control of the government. Seething bitterness and extraordinary self-righteousness are great motivations for writing.

5) While in exile, come under the influence of a Great Thinker (dead or alive). Give away your fortune and renounce your mistress(es). Burn the sonnets you wrote about that pretty dead lady.

6) You now have four options:
(A) Catch the plague and die.
(B) Become a monk and die shortly thereafter, before you have really done much; if you choose this, be sure to show sufficient early promise.
(C) Become a monk but continue to father illegtimate children.
(D) Retire to your villa and write a very long history of something. Really anything, as long as it is based on Herotodus or Livy. Then die.

Optional embellishments include nagging a city until its citizens offer you a crown of laurels for being Best Poet Since Dante, writing autobiographical pieces in which you make no mention of any of your vices (i.e. having those bastard children after joining the ranks of the Holy Church), going grey at a very, very early age, and writing poetry that later historians will say is an "epic bore".

Please understand that your name will live on mainly through being printed in bold letters in ninth-grade textbooks and you will basically be known for your one hit single, which will be acknowledged only with demeaning qualifiers. For example: "He won a Lifetime Achievement Award in the category of Works For Italian Theater Written Between 1250 and 1550 By Tall, Handsome-Though-Prematurely-Grey Men From Middle-Class Families With Pretend Lovers Who Were Once Profligate Youths In Law School And At One Time Also Had A Small Dog Named Franco."

You should also realize that position of Best Poet Ever will be taken by Shakespeare and held indefinitely, so there's really no need to try that hard. In short, this is a no-pressure kind of club and you should feel free to be as misogenystic, egotistical, and morally dubious as you please. Don't pull a muscle wrestling against vanity or the sins of the flesh; your reputation will largely be carried by Da Vinci anyway.

1 comment:

.Maeve said...

option (C), please.