What Was the Hipster – Requiem or Resurrection

The original hipster was someone who was hip – who moved his hips. Like Elvis his libido was more liberated than the neurotic character – all the way down to his pelvic core and sexual hip freedom. Both Mailer and Kerouac drew inspiration from Reich’s theories of sexual freedom and psychic health. For the first time the persecuted outsider turned the tables on the rigid laws of norm as stiff and square and spun a new myth of American freedom from Mailers Greenwich Village “Voice” to Kerouac’s American West on the “Road.” Mailer championed Reichian psychoanalysis while Kerouac borrowed the free associative method of “first thought best thought” to write without censorship.

Today’s hipsters likewise feel outside the norm – whatever is left of it – turning awkwardness into its reverse through obscure copying of a simulation of community knowledge by secret recognition – an agreement not to look below the surface of style – a new norm in many ways more oppressive than the old – less tolerant of difference for not even stating what is supposed to be.

We could take as the bible of the true and original hipster revolution Reich’s first obscure book: “The Impulsive Character.” In many ways a self analysis of his own inability to fit into the mold of neurosis or normality – a character not sufficiently normalized, normoticized, or normopathologized – yet not for all that being without suffering. Reich’s analysis bears a resemblance to what would later be termed borderline, perverse, sociopathic but more usefully predicts Lacan’s working through the question of the subject in relation to the social symbolic. Freud considered the question of psychoanalysis’s end in light of the pathology of the society in “Civilization and Its Discontents” but Lacan attempted to reinvent the theory and practice from the point of view of the subject’s ability and necessity to invent at the borderline between self and other.

This invention was the mark of the original hipsters too libidinalized to be confined in everyday jobs and families. Rather they played jazz, wrote poetry and lived on the streets free to develop lovers, friends, and communities of diversity and change. Part of the more general Modernist revolution including the occult revival, surrealism & dadaism, sex, drugs & rocknroll, can the true hipster be resurrected from the ashes of postmodern faux hipsterism – cynical and awkward in its consumption of consumer capital and cultural signifiers.