Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Adbusters vs. Hipsters

Whether it's ethical or not, Nikolas R. Schiller transcribed this article from Adbusters: Douglas Haddow's "Hipster: The Dead End of Western Civilization". It is short, but sweet; dense like a block of basalt, focused as a laser-beam. In all my years, starting about '91, I've been waiting to see something this concise on my generation.

I had to consider how deeply, too, "hipsterism" has invaded poetry. A few looks at a few online journals will reveal the answer fairly quickly.

Walking to the Post Office today, I drew out a 5-step plan to a better life.

One, determine values. Whether it's family, home, community, the garden, or all of the above, without values everything just seems value-less. And don't let the Republicans appropriate the term "Family Values" anymore. It's a swindle. This is what Albert Schweitzer means when he holds "reverence for life."

Two, once you determine values then you begin to create meaning. I'm feeling I can move beyond Existentialism. Yes, we recognize the Void. Yes, humans are nasty. But if you derive joy from your values (i.e., my wife makes me happy; growing cucumbers makes me happy), I see much in the fact that joy is the meaning of life. Yes, there is also sorrow, but I've come to believe they are, to forgive the cliche, two sides of the coin.

Three, meaning must be maintained, so we have to build--however individual, a coherent philosophy. So we read Aristotle, Montaigne, Confucius, whoever gives us the scaffolding, the language that holds these meanings in place.

Four, what holds the philosophy in place is creativity. Write poems. Paint its landscape. Sing. Knit, farm, have children. And since creativity is not only a gift to the creator, but a gift to others,

Five, we give. And after my service with the AmeriCorps and as a high school teacher, there is an action that derives from our convictions, and it is simply to question ourselves, What do I have to contribute? It doesn't matter if you're a Senator, a gas-pumper, or a kindergarten teacher, you give what you have. Which creates more meaning. Which creates a community of Values.

I keep this is mind when I generalize "Hipster Culture." And it is a generalization, I know. I seek that despair in myself and counteract with, if not "hope," then acceptance. Because the great philosophy I struggle with is Anti-Romantic, anti-Idealist: In accept that people are the way they are, that the world is the way it is. Not to insinuate giving up by any means, or surrendering to fate, but just to wake up every day and say, "Today I will deal with jerks."

Don't we all? Most of all, I have to deal with the biggest asshole I know: myself.