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You can always find me in H&M

If you want a riddle, I’ll give you a riddle.

H&M: Hipster & Mystery?
H&M: Hipster & Mystery?

Dear Hipster:

Riddle me this — if all the hipsters left town tomorrow, would there be no more hipsters, or would somebody step in to fill the “power vacuum,” so to speak, such as occurs when a dictatorship unexpectedly collapses in some non-mainstream country or another? The way I see it, if hipsterness is something eternally fixed and unchanging, then you need the actual hipsters to have hipster stuff. No hipsters, no hipsterness. If, however, hipsterness is a purely relational quality, i.e. hipsterness is always (or can only be) understood in the context of a given time and a given place, then you don’t need any particular hipsters. Here’s an analogy, if all the Christians disappeared tomorrow, perhaps in some sort of rapture-like event, then there would arguably be no more Christianity, because, at least from a sociological perspective, you can’t have a religion with zero adherents.

— Davey Dave, PB

That’s really more of an imponderable brain teaser than a riddle. But if you want a riddle, I’ll give you a riddle.

“I’m essential to any music and arts festival; but I’m not there when you have an ordinary concert, even though I’m always in ‘some band you’ve never heard of.’ I’m always with you when you partake of wine and spirits, but you’ll miss me if all you have is beer. You won’t find me in skinny jeans, mom jeans, or any jeans at all; but you can always find me in H&M, no matter how mainstream it is. What am I?”

If any astute readers get the right answer, I’ll give you a shout-out here. Email your best and most informed guesses to [email protected]

Anyway, to answer your more-than-a-little off the beaten path question, although the existence of the hipster is eternal, the form of the hipster is not. Put another way, although there will always be hipsters, there’s no guarantee as to what delightful nonsense they will be getting up to at any given time.

Let me provide an oddly specific historical example. In the Middle Ages, it was considered most fashionable to roast a “cockentrice” — essentially the top half of a suckling pig sewed onto the bottom half of a large chicken — for a special occasion. Yes, that’s exactly as horrifying as you’re picturing it. It looks more like something from the Kitchen of Dr. Moreau than Bon Appetit. Nevertheless, some medieval hipster probably got bored in the kitchen one day, and thought to herself, ‘Wouldn’t it be weird, and at least a little bit hilarious, if I sewed these two animals together before I cooked them and fed them to a king?’

Now, you might be inclined to think I’ve been looking for an excuse to tell people about cockentrices for the past six months, and since nothing more topical came along, I made it fit your question. You’d be partially right in that, but it also goes to show you how the impetus to do totally weird and random things can manifest itself in radically different ways in different times and places. Even if all the hipsters got raptured tomorrow (I’ll leave it to your imagination to ponder where they get raptured to), it would not take very much time for someone to get bored with everything being same-same all of a sudden, and the urge to hipster would rise again.

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H&M: Hipster & Mystery?
H&M: Hipster & Mystery?

Dear Hipster:

Riddle me this — if all the hipsters left town tomorrow, would there be no more hipsters, or would somebody step in to fill the “power vacuum,” so to speak, such as occurs when a dictatorship unexpectedly collapses in some non-mainstream country or another? The way I see it, if hipsterness is something eternally fixed and unchanging, then you need the actual hipsters to have hipster stuff. No hipsters, no hipsterness. If, however, hipsterness is a purely relational quality, i.e. hipsterness is always (or can only be) understood in the context of a given time and a given place, then you don’t need any particular hipsters. Here’s an analogy, if all the Christians disappeared tomorrow, perhaps in some sort of rapture-like event, then there would arguably be no more Christianity, because, at least from a sociological perspective, you can’t have a religion with zero adherents.

— Davey Dave, PB

That’s really more of an imponderable brain teaser than a riddle. But if you want a riddle, I’ll give you a riddle.

“I’m essential to any music and arts festival; but I’m not there when you have an ordinary concert, even though I’m always in ‘some band you’ve never heard of.’ I’m always with you when you partake of wine and spirits, but you’ll miss me if all you have is beer. You won’t find me in skinny jeans, mom jeans, or any jeans at all; but you can always find me in H&M, no matter how mainstream it is. What am I?”

If any astute readers get the right answer, I’ll give you a shout-out here. Email your best and most informed guesses to [email protected]

Anyway, to answer your more-than-a-little off the beaten path question, although the existence of the hipster is eternal, the form of the hipster is not. Put another way, although there will always be hipsters, there’s no guarantee as to what delightful nonsense they will be getting up to at any given time.

Let me provide an oddly specific historical example. In the Middle Ages, it was considered most fashionable to roast a “cockentrice” — essentially the top half of a suckling pig sewed onto the bottom half of a large chicken — for a special occasion. Yes, that’s exactly as horrifying as you’re picturing it. It looks more like something from the Kitchen of Dr. Moreau than Bon Appetit. Nevertheless, some medieval hipster probably got bored in the kitchen one day, and thought to herself, ‘Wouldn’t it be weird, and at least a little bit hilarious, if I sewed these two animals together before I cooked them and fed them to a king?’

Now, you might be inclined to think I’ve been looking for an excuse to tell people about cockentrices for the past six months, and since nothing more topical came along, I made it fit your question. You’d be partially right in that, but it also goes to show you how the impetus to do totally weird and random things can manifest itself in radically different ways in different times and places. Even if all the hipsters got raptured tomorrow (I’ll leave it to your imagination to ponder where they get raptured to), it would not take very much time for someone to get bored with everything being same-same all of a sudden, and the urge to hipster would rise again.

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