A Rascal, as we see it, is a man who exudes individuality and authenticity in a positive light. As we aspire to live that description, we also recognize our attraction to authors who have lived a more traditional sense of the word “rascal,” defined as a base, dishonest, or unscrupulous person. But we aren't attracted to the evil, rather to the way in which the authors lived life to the fullest, so they could share their experiences with those incapable of doing so.
When we look at some of the more important and even landmark male writers of the 20th century, we recognize a brilliance within them that became evident through their words, even if their lives existed at the blurry edges of what we would call a noble existence.
Their nobility was not so much in their acts performed on a daily basis but in their words written down for eternity. Their thoughts were shared with others, in honesty and earnestness, despite any negative connotations or shadows that their real lives may have cast across their seminal works.
These are the authors we get, even if not fully condoned, and who bring a needed sense of adventurous spirit to the Rascals we are.
I don’t think there is any other author who so inspires a Rascal as much as Ernest Hemingway might. He was a man who lived 100 lives and wrote about them all for us to be inspired by, and learn from. From his time spent fighting in the Spanish Civil War, to his epic hunting trips to Africa, to his time spent living life to the most in places like Paris and Cuba, Hemingway breathed in the world with every respiration of his life. He was a journalist as well as an author, and I think this dual role gave him a better way of making his readers feel like a part of the stories he told. He lived his life by the moment, and tragically ended it the same way.
“Every man’s life ends the same way. It is only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguish one man from another.” - Ernest Hemingway
Hunter S. Thompson
Another author who told his stories from the perspective of a journalist is Hunter S. Thompson. His style of reporting, known as gonzo journalism, made a story out of an event. By bringing his character into the fold and oftentimes becoming an indispensable part of the story he was meant to report on, his works of blurred fact and clear perspective gave the reader an alternative view of the news. He helped readers transport to a place and time and event in a way no one else could do before the internet. His contempt for authority aside, he is important because he gave people a reason to dream of a life full of adventure. He lived life to the extreme, so as to suck every ounce of marrow from the bones of life lain upon his plate. Until he tragically took his own life.
“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!” - Hunter S. Thompson
A man who lived a decidedly morally questionable life, Bukowski is quite possibly the worst of the worst of the men mentioned so far, yet he was equally talented in his ability to use words to make the reader understand the view of someone else. Time once labeled him the “laureate of American lowlife.” While he was most definitely a man who put himself into situations of ill-repute for the benefit of a good story or poem, he did so with the understanding that he was the only voice for those he rubbed shoulders with in the lower dregs of American civilization. His work was a spotlight on that which was left in the dark. While his ethics may not have matched with most of his peers, his passion for living life was unparalleled. Especially since it was a life that most looked down upon.
“Find what you love and let it kill you.” Find that one thing that sets your soul on fire, makes other things irrelevant, makes life worth living, keeps you in the flow state, and makes you feel more alive than any word could ever explain. Then immerse yourself in it, extract the ultimate experience from it and enjoy its highs and lows. And just like how you don’t know you’re actually dead when you die, let it control you, let it take over your being, and let it take you places you never knew existed.” - Charles Bukowski
These men were rascals in their own way. While their lifestyles may not meet our visions of what a Rascal is, their zest for life and love for living it to the extreme is definitely in line with our beliefs. Our choice as Rascals is to live lives full of individuality and authenticity in a positive light, which matters. But so do the stories of those who lived outside the lines so that others could understand life from a different perspective.
Photo by Suzy Hazelwood.