July 30, 2008
Hipsterdom is the first “counterculture” to be born under the advertising industry’s microscope, leaving it open to constant manipulation but also forcing its participants to continually shift their interests and affiliations. Less a subculture, the hipster is a consumer group – using their capital to purchase empty authenticity and rebellion. But the moment a trend, band, sound, style or feeling gains too much exposure, it is suddenly looked upon with disdain. Hipsters cannot afford to maintain any cultural loyalties or affiliations for fear they will lose relevance.
This underscores what I call “the economic metaphor” which is embodies the Zeitgeist of the West. The practical and popular are our valuables, while the ideal and the good (not necessarily their former’s opposites) are worthless not invaluable. Hence, I say, the economic metaphor lacks value. A quip that, in all its recursive glory, only augments the “hipster” aesthetic: the clever is the new smart. We are, largely, a culture of echoes, distorting the new and original with our apt, snarky quotations. (Just look at twitter or any run-of-the-mill link blog and you’ll see.) Echoes, like our culture loyalties, fade and we are left looking for the novel or, when nothing new is found, the retro.
I could get all Derridean and niggle about the author’s use of “end,” but that would only muddy the waters. I will, however, say that it does not so much show the end of West as “turn” towards something unexpected. The 60s–for all its political nostalgia–seems just as vacuous to me, a twenty-something, as now.
*To be clear: I mean he is thinking the same thoughts I am.