(Leonardo DiCaprio as Rimbaud in Total Eclipse)
Even if you don’t want to know his poetry, you should at least know about his life, because he definitely lived the coolest life of all. You like YOLO? He invented YOLO. He started writing at around seventeen and became simultaneously a huge sensation and a controversial figure in Paris. Youth, ennui, madness. He stopped writing abruptly at the age of twenty. He left France and traveled as far as he could. Before he died, he sent a letter to his friend and begged him to burn all his poems and writings. Unfortunately for him and fortunately for us, his friend didn’t obey.
How can one harbor so much hate? Rimbaud hated quite literally almost everything: his fatherland, all forms of trade and employment (tous les métiers), the idea of rebellion, history, baptism, poverty, etc. I didn’t even know it’s possible to reject so many things at a time. In short, Rimbaud probably thought planet earth was Hell. Evidently he developed a hate, or at least distrust, in writing at some point, which ended his “career” as a poet. The only thing he did not seem to hate was Nature–but not Nature as such but the idealized nature with its constellations and room for imagination. On the downside, he was as irresponsible as one could possibly be. His life was the ultimate unbearable lightness of being. “Life flowers in work, in an old truth: but my own life is not substantial enough, it flies away and drifts far above action, that focal point so dear to the world,” says Rimbaud.