September 26th, 2008

Don’t Start Thinking About Tomorrow

photo by {?N.tella}

videyoga :: see, e.g., 0:31 & 1:23


  • 1. Birdseed  |  September 27th, 2008 at 4:02 am

    You know, back when we started being critical of hipsters it used to be quite edgy, but now it’s gone soooo mainstream. Hipster criticism has totally sold out. :)

    Actually, the hipster piece seems to be woeful ahistorical – not only is it the same sort of criticism the decadent petty-bourgeoisie has always faced from snobs with better taste, but the attitudes of the subjects in question doesn’t seem to radically differ from any generation of fashionable twenty-somethings, whether dandies or mods.

    Another reflection: when did “hipster” become a term for a specific subculture? I’ve always used it in a general sense covering hipsters of all eras and places. I know I first “revived” the term in my vocabulary after you posted about it, but where does the meme come from?

  • 2. wayneandwax  |  September 27th, 2008 at 7:59 am

    I think it’s really just the last five years that “hipster” has been revived as a very specific, if facile, pejorative describing a very particular (sub)cultural formation and style. That meaning of the term — as explored in the AdBusters piece — should not have hegemony over a more longstanding (and varied) use of the word, but at this point in time it’s impossible to use the term without conjuring those specific images.

    Ahistoricism is a problem, especially since the place of the hipster in society/culture can change over time (thus, I might argue that for all its pernicious qualities, Ginsburg’s “angelheaded hipsters” were more important — perhaps even productive? — than today’s “dirty pigeons”), but I think one can also pretty easily level an ahistorical critique at hipsters: despite their differences in appearance, most hipsters — across historical periods — can be defined as poseurs of some sort, using the trappings of cross-race/class-dressing to disguise/escape/revile their white, bourgeois roots. (That post you point to on counterculture and counterpublics gets at the importance of this critique pretty directly.) As you well know, I was attempting a critical genealogy of sorts, along these lines, back here —

    It’s important, though, not to lose a sense of the value of hipness in our various indictments of hipsterdom. As Joe Twist pointed out a long time ago, there’s an important difference between hipness and hipsters:

    Hip is processual, although part of the process is to act like it’s not a process. Hipness is a constantly evolving state of knowing, of understanding, of “getting it”. One is hip to things: drug slang, musical principles, style, different kinds of social interactions. So being hip in a general sense just means that you’re hip to enough things that, when any given subject comes up, you’re more likely to be hip to it than not. (ref)

    This is where, for example, I think you go wrong, Birdseed, in labeling someone like Maga Bo (or me) a hipster. Maga Bo is not a hipster; Maga Bo is hip. His engagements are not superficial, he does not put on airs (or wonky sweaters), he is not cooler-than-thou, and he is not trying to accrue cachet through some sort of racial or class cross-dressing. We could split hairs on this for days, no doubt, but I think the lesson to be drawn here is not to play with loaded terms too loosely.

  • 3. Birdseed  |  September 27th, 2008 at 10:02 am

    I’m packing for the Bulgaria trip so I don’t have time to respond properly, but I think your hip definition lacks a dimension: the acting out. I know (some of the) drug slang, music principles, style, social interactions. For the most part, I chose to nevertheless dress unhiply*, listen to unhip music (though not square in that jazz sense), and would never dream of using drug slang because I’d effectively be part of some sort of blackface minstrelsy.

    That makes me a geek. Knowledge without fashion is not hip.

    *Until the damned hipsters took over my uniform of American Apparel V-necks. I’m at a loss of what to do next.

  • 4. wayneandwax  |  September 27th, 2008 at 10:27 am

    Interesting distinction, BS. I’ll have to contemplate that one after smoking a reefer.

    Have fun in Bulgaria!

  • 5. Hank  |  September 27th, 2008 at 5:28 pm

    could Birdseed make a more hipster gesture than claiming to dress ‘unhiply’ and listening to ‘unhip’ music and talking on blogs about how he embraced a fashion style *before* American Apparel did?

  • 6. carlos  |  September 29th, 2008 at 4:15 am

    using drug slang is blackface minstrelsy?

    what terms do you use then? if you make references to drugs through their scientific or ‘official’ names, is this more authentically white in your eyes or something?* if you do, that makes you annoying, not a geek. and if you think it does, cracker is the only word i can think of.

    to ‘hank’: that was really funny.

    *and why are you so frequently/vocally concerned with being authentically white or wtfever?

  • 7. Birdseed  |  October 5th, 2008 at 1:16 pm

    I don’t take drugs or walk around in circles where I encounter drug-takers. Therefore any use of drug slang would have to be “just for fun”. Impersonating a person from a marginalised group for laffs = some form of blackface.

    Straightforward enough.

  • 8. Kiddid  |  October 6th, 2008 at 10:57 am

    In other words, those “non-marginalised white people” who partake in drug use are required to design their own terminology for the drugs that they use. Hhmm, that’s sounds kind of…ridiculous. That’s not how the world works, Birdseed. Rich men, poor men, black men, white men, women, men, blue + white collared workers do not live within individualized transparent bubbles.

    Life is not that simple. Get out of the University for more than just “field-research”.

  • 9. carlos  |  October 6th, 2008 at 12:28 pm

    “Impersonating a person from a marginalised group for laffs = some form of blackface.”

    Sure, but I feel you don’t always have to be impersonating to use slang in general, or specifically the one we’re talking about here (drug slang). Maybe for you, since you don’t use drugs or hang out with drug-users, it would be impersonation.

    But, in text and in person, there’s a big difference between

    “Hey maaaan. Can I take a ‘hit’ of that?’


    ‘Hey man. Can I get a hit off that?’

    What makes that first one disrespectful a/o just irritating or lame would be 1) exaggeration and 2) distancing the subject from the action through a reference involving an assumed, mutually understood (yet thoroughly imaginary) actor.

    But what gets me about your comment, as tends to be the case when I read a lot of the ones you post involving race to some extent, is that there’s a BIG racial assumption and association thrown into a statement that’s fine without that. Can you tell the race of either speaker in the example I provide? Hint: there isn’t one. A lot of ‘drug’-users of all types of backgrounds may speak English like that second guy, and really…who knows who started calling units of consumption ‘hits,’ and when? Documentation of such a moment is unlikely, meaning it will probably remain unknown, also meaning that speculation as to its origin is little more than a projection of fantasy, which is the realm of the very grotesque caricatures that inform blackface and other forms of minstrelsy.

    I agree with Kiddid that life is not so simple, and that one must meet more and more real people, because that’s how one kills off those caricatures, or at least just realizes that the place they come from is within oneself.

  • 10. Birdseed  |  October 6th, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    I think there’s probably an interesting discussion here about labelling people/theories essentialist. (I know a similar discussion has been going on in feminist discourse for decades.) But honestly, just for the record: people are welcome to adopt any identities in earnest they want, as far as I’m concerned. How’s about letting me be a class-guilt ridden PC male feminist? :)

  • 11. carlos  |  October 6th, 2008 at 5:57 pm

    It would be easier to ‘let you’ be a class-guilt ridden PC male feminist if it didn’t seem like it was a label that magically absolves you from certain types of prejudice, as opposed to a process one grows through over time.

    I’m not trying to stop you from being that. I just think there’s more to progress than picking a pet cause and turning off your curiosity (and your willingness to act upon it), as well as your ‘PC’ filter, for what lies outside of that cause.


I'm a techno-musicologist, internet annotator, imagined community organizer.

I left my <3 in the digital global, but I reside in Cambridge, MA, where I'm from.

I represent like that.

wayne at wayneandwax dot com

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