Thursday, 7 March 2013

Baccalaurean

Knight, Bachelor, Baccalaurean

BACCALAUREAN

Adjective. M19.
[Old French bachelor young man aspiring to knighthood, from Proto-Romance, of uncertain origin: in academic use the medieval Latin form was baccalarius, later altered to -laureus, with ref. to bacca lauri laurel berry.]

Of or befitting a bachelor.

Some people that knew me during my baccalaurean years think they were rather atypical. In my late teens and early twenties, my friends and I were more inclined to stay in for the night, watching movies and drinking wine, or playing chess while discussing literature and history while listening to classical music (during the more raucous evenings, it wasn't unheard of for the occasional poetry slam to break out). It wasn't pretentious, nor was it down to awkwardness or shyness, or any other reason why we weren't out tearing up the clubs or racing Ford Escorts around the city centre. We were just doing what we enjoyed doing, and I look back on those baccalaurean years fondly.

The etymology of the word bachelor, and therefore baccalaurean, is curious. The modern definition, that of a single, unwed man, also carries that same sense of aspiration, but aspiring to be married rather than aspiring to knighthood. Even identifying a man as a bachelor is highlighting his unwed or single state, as if it's the most remarkable thing about him, some kind of strange intermediate stage that will one day be rectified. I suppose in much the same way that my baccalaurean years were considered by some to be unusual, people choose their own paths and it's no indication of some personal deficiency if they choose one that others consider aside from the norm. Some men choose to settle down and get married, some don't, just as some couples choose to have children and some don't. We live in an era of self-determination, an era during which labels like bachelor, with its overtones of travelling on a culturally predetermined route, are sounding increasingly old-fashioned.

4 comments:

  1. Movies, wine and literature! Isn't that what happiness is all about?

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  2. Hi Ed,
    Forget classical music and literature, what about listening to Orbital and doing the Caterpillar? Much more memorable....
    Mark

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    1. Listening to Orbital's 'In Sides' is as cultured as any classical masterpiece ...

      As for "The Caterpillar", I don't ever remember making a night out of it - that was just one I pulled out of the bag by request at parties : o D

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