lucid love of his condition


Yesterday I stumbled out of my hidey-hole after an especially indoors day on Thursday. I was walking my bike and squinting and sort of mad at the world for not meeting me 90% toward my end of the pitch. Yesterday was the one-month-out mark for leaving Sunset Park and Brooklyn and New York City and New York and the last 5.5 solar circuits behind me. I walked past the fruit-cart ladies, didn’t really talk to them because we have no language in common and their fruit sucks compared to the bodega a block away (although having quality fruit is not a prerequisite to talk to someone).

As I hit the corner the first people I noticed were two white dudes, one of whom had one of those Mumford and Sons beards and a five-panel hat. My first and deeply uncharitable response was to roll my third eye and be like SMH mass-production hipsters inbound, protect your neck, etc. I don’t think that “ruining” is the right action language for what is inevitably going to happen to Sunset Park (there will be someone making coffee from a Chemex within a mile of my soon-to-be-former apartment within a year, I feel pretty sure). But changing: yes, it’s going to change, harder and faster than the normal human lifecycle syncs with street-level retail culture. Just like shit is always changing. That change is going to displace people and businesses.

There’s a steady flow of gripes against gentrification. All of them are stupid to a certain degree. Gentrification is for sure the gross ghoulish finger of market forces in action, disrupting communities and lives in a way that truly sucks. But it also seems like an inevitable byproduct of the way we have organized the world. It can be treated, like sewage, through patience and decency and considerate behavior on all sides, but none of those things pay. The big gnarly abstract process of gentrification is something I can’t speak to other than to say that I’m vaguely against it, and that it’s probably irresistible.

On the micro level though, my resistance is not vague but pointy. I find people whom we might describe through the dread, other-ing epithet “hipster” distasteful; of course, that’s just my stupid internal, conveniently flexible definition of this concept that I am applying to this poor dude and his beard. He’s probably a better person than me.

New promise to self/others: Every time I want to use the word hipster, even in my internal thought-tapes, I will replace it with “person whose clothes or grooming make me uncomfortable for dumb reasons.” Then I’ll play the thought back to myself and think if it’s still worth keeping.

This chip on my shoulder about people with more money than me. It’s healing, but would I rather leave the scab-dent as a reminder or fill it in with putty.

2 thoughts on “lucid love of his condition”

  1. I share the ideal of identifying and banishing judgment from my everyday social awareness. Proper humility is a goal. I must constantly, vigilantly remind myself that I have no clue about the state of random strangers’ moral being–their personal struggles, excellences, pains and loves. But I don’t think a negative reaction to patently self-conscious cookie-cutter conventionalism is “dumb.” I’ve recently come to see it as more akin to distracting “noise” in the life of my mind. When patterns become all-too-repetitive and predictable, when they become hackneyed, I find less of intrinsic merit in them; they strike me as clutter. No doubt we all follow conventions to some degree or another. Yet some are more systematically styled and bedizened with a bright patina of distinction. This is why the notion of “curating” this, that, and the other thing seems to be on everyone’s lips these days. The hipster preciously, noisily curates his own self. When this act of curation becomes patent, it creates an uncomfortable static discharge in my field of social perception. Maybe I’m wrong to feel this way, but the burgeoning barrage of pretentious acts of self-curation I encounter everyday in digital- and meatspace irritates me. Perhaps I still have some judgement to exorcise. In the meantime I’ll keep working to ignore the noise. Thanks for the excellent post!

  2. BB, I don’t disagree, and the current trend toward well, dandyism or whatever you want to call it definitely throws off a kind of psychic static electricity that’s really unpleasant for people tuned to a certain frequency of modesty. but ultimately it’s a choice between being right and being happy, for me at least. I don’t want to let go of some feeling of austere superiority for not being like that or even wanting to be like that, but if all that feeling does is irritate … The upshot is, achieving a state of grace is super convenient if you can pull it off. I can’t, but the struggle gets me a reasonable proxy for it.

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