And yet, and yet … I’m ready to concede at least part of the point about the debilitating snark of so much object-love. (‘You don’t like tUnE-yArDs? Peasant.’) We all know people like this, people who expend great quantities of capital in these economies of cool and who use their enthusiasms, or the performance of them, like a carving knife. The art world, it is fair to say, is no stranger to the species. (Nor for that matter is the academy. Or Brooklyn. Or Shoreditch. Etc.) But in truth I have no heart for this kind of quasi-sociological hipster-hate. When I see kids bedecked in the accoutrements of one emerging micro-trend or other, I do not, I confess, experience so immediate and blinding an access of rage that I am forced to reach, gunslinger-like, for my copy of Bourdieu’s Distinction (1979). Perhaps indefensibly, what I see are kids who love things, and who are using what languages are at their disposal (sartorial, affective, sometimes steeply monetized and sometimes not) to give that love some kind of heft and shape and articulacy. Those languages aren’t my languages – like most of my friends I prefer complex syntax and bar fighting: this is why we are friends – but I don’t dismiss out of hand the latent acuities of their love, whatever its object and whatever its mode.
I’ve drafted and redrafted half-a-dozen ‘smart’ things to say about this, but I’m just gonna settle on saying that this is a pretty good defence of hipsterism tucked away in a pretty good article on criticism and cultural capital.
And this: The hipster as scout and champion of new stuff is very different to the hipster as arch-ironist and privileged gentrifier.