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Hipster defined.

Table of Contents:

(1) Statement of Question, (2) Instant Anthropological Data, (3) Formal Analysis, (4) Discussion of Analysis, (5) The Hipster’s Problem, (6) Formal Proof of Hipster’s Paradox, (7) ‘Hipster’ Defined, (8) Discussion: Hipsters are Absurd and Insulting, (9) Tragic Though Hopeful Admission of Author, (10) Clarion Call to Action.

1) STATEMENT OF QUESTION

The majority of the mainstream literature about hipsters is negative in tone but really asks a question of definition. What is a hipster?

2) INSTANT ANTHROPOLOGICAL DATA

Using convoflow.com and interceder.net I searched for the term ‘hipster’ this morning and found the following videos:

3) FORMAL ANALYSIS

This is the Hipster’s Formula:

x e H : [not (x e M)], where M = {m1, m2, m3…mn}

x is a member of the set H such that it’s not the case that x is a member of the set M, where M is a series of various mainstreams.

4) DISCUSSION OF ANALYSIS

To be a member of a set, a thing must have at least one quality. This quality is represented by predicate expressed in natural language: “…is (blank).” For example, let R be the set of all red things. To be a member of R, a thing must have the quality of redness. The predicate here is “…is red.”

Let H be the set of all hipsters. Given the Hipster Formula, the predicate on the hipster set is “…is not a member of M,” where M is the set of various mainstreams.

That is, the quality a thing has to have to be a member of the hipster set is that it doesn’t belong to another series of sets. The predicate on on H is more akin to “…is not a member of any set.”

The hipster is therefore defined by non-belonging. This is problematic. In the Hipster’s Formula there’s the membership sign ‘e‘, which denotes belonging. A hipster is defined by not-belonging, but yet belongs.

5) THE HIPSTER’S PROBLEM

From the above videos it’s clear that hipsters desire not to be included in any set but their own. They claim independence from any other set. Represented formally:

x e H : [not (x e S)]

x is a member of H such that it’s not the case that x belongs to any set.

Here, S is a placeholder for any set in the set of all sets. S could be any set. Observe that H is a set. This is the hipster’s problem. Their desire constitutes a paradox.

6) FORMAL PROOF OF HIPSTER’S PARADOX

(a) Every member of the hipster set belongs to a set, H.
(b) The predicate on H is “…doesn’t belong to any set.”
(c) H is itself a set, belonging to the set of all sets.
(d) Hipsters, belonging to a set and the set of all sets, define themselves as not belonging to any set.

7) ‘HIPSTER’ DEFINED

I offer line (d) in the above proof as a definition of ‘hipster’. A hipster is someone that belongs to a set that defines itself as not belonging to any set.

8. DISCUSSION: HIPSTERS ARE ABSURD AND INSULTING

What we find constant in the hipster literature (videos, music, fiction, non-fiction, etc) is a desire to not be part of any group. This is a constant state of irony, the most appropriate definition of which may be found in Donald Barthelme’s short story “Kierkegaard unfair to Shlegl.” To paraphrase, Barthelme writes that irony occurs when an individual takes away the reality of a thing in order to be free from it. Hipsters are ironic about everything because they desire to be free from everything: free from categorization, free from definition, free from any association. This irony is the subject of criticism for good reason. The hipster’s irony is founded on a non-sensical ground: they attempt collectively to not be members of any collective. Their group is composed of members that want not to be members of any group. They are, in Camus’ sense, absurd. Their desires and actions are convinced of a reality that is clearly not the case. They live a farce of independence, believing they aren’t members of any group while defining their group in this way.

This existential absurdity is compounded in a Marxist light. Living in a hierarchically capitalist society, hipsters are members of the middle-to-upper-middle class. They are bourgeois. They are the bourgeois who, by definition, don’t want to be bourgeois.  But their membership in the bourgeois is what enables them to want not to be bourgeois. Beyond absurd, this makes the hipster an insult to every other economic group: those that have wealth and want it and those that don’t have wealth and want it. Beyond absurd, the hipster is insulting. This explains why the term ‘hipster’ is more commonly used as an accusation than anything else.

9) TRAGIC THOUGH HOPEFUL ADMISSION OF AUTHOR

I admit to being a hipster. I have many qualities that identify me with this group. I’m therefore tragic. In my definition of “them” I’ve described hipsters from a removed, third-person voice. I attempt not to be hipster by being ironic, but in this attempt I become hipster.

However, there is hope in this tragedy.

If I say I’m a hipster I negate the hipster’s absurdity. When I include myself in the group that wants not to be members of any group, I include myself in a group. If I do this then I’m no longer absurd because I recognize that I am a member of a group that wants not to be members of any group. If all hipsters  do this, if we say that we are in fact hipsters, we will no longer be absurd. If we include ourselves as members of a group that recognizes its desire not to be members of any group we will achieve authenticity.

If we unite in the truth of ourselves we will become ourselves.

10) CLARION CALL TO ACTION

HIPSTERS OF THE WORLD UNITE!