As I've stated at various points along the way, this book has largely been about identity. Who are we? How do we get noticed? What can we do to stand out in this crushing mass of anonymous hubbub we call life? Hipsterdom thrives on this scrambling and competing. Any cultural phenomenon begins with an aim to stand out, to be different. It's about distinguishing ourselves through expression and figuring out our place and our purpose in a world that is unlivable if we have nothing to strive for and no legacy to leave.
To be hip is to be empowered. Hip exercises agency in a world that is otherwise completely uncontrollable. It positions our self as superior to others, in an activity of the part of the soul Plato called thymos- the aspect of our self that produces the insatiable desire for recognition. We want esteem, prestige, and affirmation of our worth. Hegel posited that this is ultimately the desire that drives history forward. Not food, not survival, but recognition.
No one is immune from this. I'm certainly not. So much of my life has been about wanting to make myself acceptable and desirable, to fit in and stand out and look good. Most of my shortcomings have been by-products of this never-ending pursuit. ...
Our demand for recognition and individuality will not be met on our own terms, because as long as we are on this planet, who we are will always be an open question.
"For now we see in a mirror dimly," wrote Paul to the church at Corinth, "but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known" (1 Cor. 13:12).