Sunday, July 31, 2011

Renaissance Man

Rockstar, world class fencer, and professional pilot Bruce Dickinson
The Art of Manliness has an article about becoming a Renaissance Man Without Spending a Dime.

The gist of the piece is that today, thanks to technology, anyone with the desire and determination can become a true Renaissance Man - especially when it comes to education.  The limits on human potential owing to lack of money to afford education and lack of learning materials based on one's physical location in the world are quickly becoming a thing of the past.

There are many examples of just how otherwise ordinary people all over the world - not James Bond or Indiana Jones, but real people - are doing extraordinary things.  For example, Benny Lewis (known as the Irish Polyglot) went from being a 21-year old language failure to being a 27-year old world traveller and polyglot, fluent in 8 languages (and currently a student of 8 additional tongues).  He posits that anyone - with discipline and determination - can become fluent in any language in three months.  It is not a matter of being a genius.  It is, rather, a matter of drive.

I find people like Benny not only helpful in a technical kind of way (with good insights and tips for learning languages), but inspirational by way of encouragement in accomplishing goals in this life.

Another example of a Renaissance Man comes from where one might least expect it: from the shadowy world of Heavy Metal rock music.  Bruce Dickinson is best known as the lead singer for the 1980s metal outfit Iron Maiden.  And for most people, being the frontman of an internationally-known rock band, being rated as the seventh greatest metal vocalist of all time, being able to sing in addition to playing drums and guitars - as well as write songs - would likely satisfy 99% of people.

But not Dickinson.

For he is a "polymath" - a true Renaissance Man whose desires and interests propel him to strike out and try new and extraodinary things - things other men only daydream about.  And not only does Dickenson try such things, he succeeds and makes his mark in many fields of endeavor.

At the age of 52, Bruce Dickinson is listed on Wikipedia as a "singer, songwriter, airline pilot, fencer, broadcaster, author, screenwriter, actor and marketing director." 

Whether or not one appreciates the Heavy Metal music genre, how can one not be astounded by such a person and inspired by his example to take a few risks in life?

Bruce Dickinson has accomplished amazing things in the competitive sport of fencing - recently competing internationally and coming in seventh in Great Britain.  If that weren't enough, he founded a company that makes fencing equipment.  He has also worked in radio and television, drove a Russian T34 tank on the Military Channel, wrote two successful novels, scripted a screenplay that became a movie, and acted in two BBC television shows.

And yet, this is still not enough for a Renaissance Man.  Dickinson has a genuine love for aviation.  He works as a professional commercial pilot and marketing director for a British charter airline company.  Flying a Boeing 757, he has rescued stranded people from troubled places in the world - including a group of RAF pilots from Afghanistan.  You can also see him on Youtube having a go at flying an A320Airbus for the first time and commenting on its features.

The Wikipedia article tangentially mentions that he is also a poet and a painter.

And, by the way, in spite of his euphonious set of pipes, he has had no formal voice training.

Here are some videos for your polymath pleasure and metallurgical musicality:

Tattooed Millionaire (1990)

Tears of the Dragon (1994)

Man of Sorrows (1997)

Bonus for reading to the end of the blogpost: here is a pic of Bruce Dickinson from Mrs. Hollywood backstage at an Iron Maiden show in Toronto, March 1987.


Brian Yamabe said...

The LCMS seminaries are a blessing in this regard as well ( and They are wonderful resources for a layman like me.

oyster said...

Excellent examples in a wonderful post. Dickinson is quite a guy, and I'd quite like to see more renaissance men around town.