A review of the new book “Whiter Shades of Pale” has me lamenting the continuous barrage of self definition and satirical placement white people love. The author of “Stuff White People Like” may have a point in mocking his fellow whitey, but in a way, isn’t he perpetuating the system? White people love to feel guilty about being white. An essay in the New York Times discussing “the hipster,” examines how this has occurred.
De gustibus non est disputandum, or, concerning matters of taste there is no dispute. The hipster and the modern white person show that there is. Elevation of one and suppression of another is what being human is about, but what if, instead of feeling a sense of superiority or political correctness, we could simply observe and appreciate the average lower-class and the aging middle class hipster, in the same non-disparaging way?
We know that there are levels of quality in everything, but to justify our knowledge of quality over others is the mark of Bourdieu’s “cultural capital.” We want to prove to ourselves that we deserve what we have because of what we know, and that those below us economically must know less. In fact, they know about different things, or perhaps have learned the same things in a different way. True artists should be able to appreciate all kinds of people and ideas without condescending or pretending, or even feeling layers of guilt for political incorrectness. That should replace the ironical self-consciousness of postmodernism.