Giltter and Sepia Youth
She dances, her black-painted toenails dipping in white silk, spitting.
We are as angels carved into mausoleum pillars, observing.
Someone says they think this was once called voodoo. Oh! Yes, it must be, with gods as divorced from their history as we are. They respond to fragments of their own memory, and we respond to their beauty.
She steals the tapestries–now decomposing–and weaves them anew. What they once meant, we do not care, because memory is fallible, history is yet another tale, and so we watch. We, too, will build with the pieces to create what shines for us.
II. We would never ask to live a coherent life.
A cathedral ceiling full of fog,
a pane of glass reflecting white skin over the city
and into a dark cranial space.
Thin bones, thin clothes,
and a handful of pastel green hair.
Cigarette butts on an antique table
no one cares about.
You had your whiskey. You had your pills, whatever they were.
Fog on your face.
Do you feel like we’ve lived through too many youths?
They’re piling up on the door and
shattering against each other,
ever-shortening pieces I use
With my eyes closed,
I make art
that’s only visible in the next decade
when I’m out of my head.
(Pictureplane–Real is a Feeling, Grimes remix)
Readers might benefit from a bit of explanation about this abstract piece. My experience living in the San Francisco Bay Area has made me think a lot about hipsters. Around here, “hipster” is kind of a dirty word, as this article by The Guardian’s Alex Rayner discusses. No one wants to admit to being a hipster (even if they are) and I’ve done my share of hipster bashing. I can’t help it–the ill-fitting clothes and poor hygiene make me want to smack someone. Hipsters are commonly derided as being a non-culture that cannibalizes the beautiful and sacred parts of other cultures and subcultures, discarding all the meaning of an item and using it instead for fashion/image purposes. The popularity of Native American ”inspired” garb (think “anorexic white chicks in war bonnets“) is one example. On a more casual note, if you want to piss off a devloted old-school goth, ask them what they think about “nu-goth” fashion. Hilarity really does ensue.
I’m trying to consider hipsters with a bit more kindness, though. The more sincere ones are not sitting around chortling with glee as they rub their hands/pseudopods together and saying, “Yes, yes, we shall make a mockery of all that is sacred!” They’re a symptom of a shallow mainstream culture, trying desperately to find meaning while working around a profound ignorance they’re only dimly aware of. If no one encourages them to look within for meaning, rather than without, then their artform becomes a collage of what already exists, because that’s the material they know to work with. And sometimes those collages are pretty clever. Other times, they’re tedious and worn out.
I imagine what my life would be like if I were raised by narcissistic 80s yuppie stereotypes. Would I be some 19-year-old kid rebelling against the shallowness of that prescribed culture? Would I grab onto to anything with a hint of “something more than this,” but know only how to hack it apart and force it into my world?
In the spirit of things, I was trying to find a stereotypical photo of a nu-goth-style hipster. All dark tones, grainy resolution, messy hair and vapid expression, etc. Surprisingly, Flickr Creative Commons failed me, and I wasn’t about to post some random person’s photo. I figured it couldn’t be that hard to replicate, so here’s me lookin’ all American Apparel, just for you!