The sincerity to believe in auras and chakras is too damn high
  • The sincerity to believe in auras and chakras is too damn high
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Dear Hipster:

I’m loyal to the Reader, but I also peruse the NYT. One recent story about culturally relevant pop music in the 21st Century asserts that there has been a revival of New Age spirituality (and the accompanying, saccharine music) among the hipster class. Maybe I’m not paying attention, or maybe this is just something unique to East Coast hipster enclaves, but I’m not seeing it. Surely, hipsters are too jaded for healing crystals! Your input should resolve this.

On the heels of that thought, I had something of an inspiration for the Historical Hipster Hall of Fame. Perhaps Emmanuel Swedenborg could get his crazy, proto-New Age bust erected somewhere in that hallowed auditorium to hipster glory?

— Jane, South Park

Even the lamest of the lame can become cool. Lionel Richie and Hall and Oates have experienced hipster revivals. The former charmed his way into hipster hearts by way of a canny Instagram post linking his 1983 hit, “Hello,” with Adele’s recent hit of the same name. The latter, as far as I can tell, gained hipster cred as the ironic backing music for the song-and-dance routine in the tragic hipster romcom, 500 Days of Summer. By that logic, the only thing stopping hipsters from running to their local record stores in hopes of finding pristine Deep Forest albums would be the fickleness of fate.

That said, I’m with you. The level of sincerity required to believe in auras and chakras is just too damn high for us hipsters. We can barely enjoy a classic movie without gleefully identifying anachronisms and lolz’ing ourselves into oblivion over the geekiness of, well, pretty much anybody who had the bad luck to not be us. Asking a hipster to earnestly meditate on the concept of greater oneness with the universe is like asking a Hell’s Angel to pen a snarky blog post about kale salads.

Plus, ironic acupuncture seems like a woefully misguided idea.

With his astral projections and seemingly acid-fueled visions, Swedenborg may well have been an Elightenment New Ager several centuries before they had a word for it. If he had lived just 200 years more, he might have beheld glorious blacklight posters of robot Buddha communing with the Earth Mother (and the occasional psychedelic toadstool). Would he have seen the mystic qualities in repeating, dayglo patterns? Been lulled to trancelike stupor by the tones of neo-pagan panpipes? Might he have leapt at the opportunity to have his chakras aligned by an OBecian named Moonflower Starchild? Alas. We shall never know. Your second proposition is unfortunately undone by your first. Swedenborg can’t have met the primal hipster qualification of “being into it before it was cool” because it was never “cool” (in the meaningless sense of being arbitrarily embraced by the tastemaking hipster masses) in the first place, and remains unhip to this day. Dig?

But, your suggestion puts me in mind of another, much likelier candidate for the hall. I wonder, can anybody guess which titanic figure of proto-hispterdom I mean? First to send the right answer my way gets himself a mystical, metaphorical high-five from the astral plane.

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