Hipster History

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by Richard Florida

Brian Frank writes:

Richard Florida points to a familiar article about "blipsters" -- "black  hipsters." Which is funny, now that I think of it, because the  original hipsters were known as "white negroes".

Well, almost. Norman Mailer's infamous "The White Negro: Superficial Reflections on the Hipster" was originally published in 1957 in Dissent. 

Nearly a decade earlier, in 1948, Anatole Broyard, published "A Portrait of the Hipster" in Partisan Review. I can't find an online version, but here's how one writer describes it:

Broyard attempted an analysis and a definition of a new type then appearing around Greenwich Village who had, in his view, been welcomed by intellectuals who "ransacking everything for meaning, admiring insurgence... .attributed every heroism to the hipster.,,."

But Broyard was less enthusiastic about these supposed new rebels ... In Broyard's words: "The hipster promptly became in his own eyes, a poet, a seer, a hero." And he added that the hipster life-style "grew more rigid than the Institutions it had set out to defy. It became a boring routine. The hipster - once an unregenerate Individualist, an underground poet, a guerrilla - had become a pretentious poet laureate."

Of course, what Broyard was doing, as well as attacking the hipsters, was criticising his fellow-intellectuals for failing to accept that the hipster rebellion was a sham.

Hmmmmmm ...

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