Hipper Than Thou

I’ve just been browsing Scott McLemee’s site and seen so many items I want to point out to our readers that I’ll just have to do it here.

There is a highly amusing review of David Brooks’ silly Bobos in Paradise for a start.

David Brooks, a writer for the conservative Weekly Standard, is also an amateur sociologist; which is to say, someone who makes mental footnotes to the New York Times…The argument of Bobos in Paradise is simple, and the author restates it every two pages (perhaps as a courtesy to the people he is discussing, who must do their reading between cell phone messages).

But amusing is not all it is, because silly is not all Brooks is. His smugness is well criticized.

Then there is a review of a book by Leo Braudy. Interesting in itself and the occasion of this opening paragraph:

Google permits the most unlikely people to display sudden bursts of erudition. Not long ago, I came across the blog kept by a generic urban hipster – one containing the familiar catalog of new CDs purchased, smirking remarks on public affairs and essentially meaningless references to “irony.” (Memo to the clueless: Irony does not mean repeating cliches in a sarcastic manner. It just doesn’t.) Reading a few entries, I got the strong sense of someone whose powers of concentration were utterly focused on the Next Big Thing.

There’s a certain commonality there. Hipsterism, the Next Big Thing, amateur sociology, trend-spotting in general. I have long thought that the desire to be hip is one of the roads to perdition, and I think McLemee may have had the same thought. Never, never worry about whether you’re hip enough; that way madness lies. Be a dedicated nerd, instead. Hipness is the dead end of all dead ends.

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