IS THE NEW HIPSTER SPIRITUAL?
Yes. Here’s why. The many subcultures the latest incarnation of hipster emulates and imitates—only aesthetically—have deep roots in various forms of radical spirituality.
In order to prove the point, let’s define what a hipster is. And more importantly, what spirituality is.
“Hipster” as a term that may be on its way out. It describes the indie aesthetic and taste preference. Eventually, underground cultures and aesthetics make their way into the mainstream. This may have already happened for all things hipster.
Let me break down the hipster into two subsets. One is materialistic, dressing the part and partaking in the general aesthetic—the lame wanna be. The other type is actually the real influencer.
Oh yeah, spirituality… just read this wikipedia definition if you don’t know what it is.
An artster is a creator. They set the trends that others end up emulating, often years down the line. A fundamental assumption is that Artsters influence hipsters as a whole. Then generic hipsters influence what has become a visible component of mainstream media and culture.
As creators, the Artsters take at least some of their inspiration from intellectual, art, and cultural movements of the past.
Pyramid in Space. by Nick Nelson
MODERN HIPSTER LINEAGE
Also known as a Hepcat, this particular 1940’s subculture member was an aficionado of Jazz and Bebop. Many etymologists believe that the terms hip, hep and hepcat derive from the west African Wolof language word hepicat, which means “one who has his eyes open”.
Their style of dress was that of the jazz musician. They enjoyed the use of recreational drugs and cannabis while emphasizing self-imposed poverty. Open sexuality, relaxed attitudes, and sarcastic humor prevailed. This culture was experienced and documented by Jack Kerouac and Alan Ginsberg. This movement can be characterized as spiritual in that its participants sought personal and moral freedom and the experience of transcendence through music.
The Beat culture was a post-World War II generation of poets, artists, and experimenters. They rejected materialism, expressed interest in Eastern religion, and dabbled in alternate lifestyles fueled by drugs and free sexuality. These were the forerunners of the later hippies.
The cultural effects of this single movement, along with the hippies, can be traced in civil rights, anti-censorship, anti-war, new spirituality, freer attitudes toward drugs, rock and roll, and ecological consciousness.
The name itself is derived from Hipster, a term that was also used to describe the Beats. Hippies took the beat ethic of experimentation and intellectual rebellion even further by creating a whole breakaway culture. They lived communally and fully embodied the ideals of the beats.They were instrumental in civil rights, protesting the Vietnam war, and psychedelic rock that hit the mainstream. Eastern spiritual influence, Western pagan revival, and a shared perception of a spiritual renaissance were evident.
Surfers (& Skaters)
I’ll group these two together, since the first skaters were surfers, entertaining themselves when the waves were crap. The surfers were influential even before the 60’s cultural revolution. They guided the West Coast evolution of the hippies. To be a surfer was to skip work whenever the surf was up, live like a nomad, and get high on sea, sky, and sun.
This was birthed by, and also a response to, the hippie movement and the later commercialization of it. As what was hippie became mainstream, the punks revolted with a retro-trash aesthetic and simple raw style of music that despised musical virtuosity. Though not overtly spiritual, the spirit of rebellion, tribalism, and nihilism exhibited by the punks remains inspirational to cultural rebels today.
Another obvious suburban youth movement evolved after punk became a cliche. As a counterpart to primarily urban punk rock, it evokes a back to nature, or at least back to the suburbs sentiment, and stands as our definitive 90’s dropout archetype. Spiritual? Ask Kurt.
The parent of the modern hipster, the indie kid with the ironic T-shirt and trucker hat, and a lame piercing or two was aware that mainstream society was kinda lame. She or he probably studied liberal arts before the economic downturn of 2008. They were thus afforded a sense of classlessness through knowledge and lifestyle choice, “but able to use college-taught skills of classification, collection and appreciation to generate a superior body of cultural "cool.” Not innately spiritual, but creatively inclined and well educated, which is a good start.
What’s next? The Spiritual Hipster.
The hipster is the evolution of the above movements. It mimics all that was Beat, Hippie, Punk, Indie, and Grunge, but dabbles in mainstream culture and pop cheesiness. It also appropriates the aesthetic of “every unmelted ethnicity”, pointing to an unconscious affinity for lineages of art and patterns from our collective indigenous past.
Haters have said that the hipster discards the philosophies of the subcultures they mimic. But do they? Maybe mashup styles combined with education and artistic curiosity eventually blossom into real culture.
This hypothesized cultural archetype, Spiritual Hipster, seems to be manifesting in a new generation of shamanic cool kids. They believe in astrology, love crystals, talk to plants. They’ve gone to a psychic before, do yoga, and meditate regularly. They may have participated in an illegal Ayahuasca ceremony. They’re obsessed with health and are most likely vegetarian, perhaps indulging a grass-fed steak once in a while.
Overall, it's clear that the classic hipster makes the historical counterculture ideals and lifestyle digestible to the mainstream. Some claim that only the surface elements, and not the essence, of the imitated movements are transmitted by such popular poseurs. We hope the Spiritual Hipster will prove otherwise.
Since a version of the hipster aesthetic has already gone globally mainstream, it seems likely the spiritual hipster, what some are calling the Silverlake Shaman, may be priming us for a global renaissance of a less material kind.
Note - This Article Predicted The Movement Described Later In Articles Like This.