The Philosophy of Durden

Everybody wants to be Tyler Durden, even if it is only for a short moment of time. No person alive wouldn’t want that much confidence to well up inside them on occasion and course through their body like a surge of epinephrine, enlivening their inner powerhouse. You want to sit back and say “Fuck it” with an utter calm and coolness that even Frank Sinatra himself could not conjure. We all want the theoretical and philosophical underpinnings that fueled Tyler and gave him his cool, to truly believe the devil be damned attitude rather than a mask we wear. This cool, to look abject danger in the eye with an ambivalence and apathy, is reserved for only those with Ubach-Wiethe disease–but yet they didn’t choose that. In the End, everyone wants to have control over themselves with the fuck all attitude that Tyler Durden lived with.

As the Boeing 777-300 takes off from Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow, the Aerflot planes shakes uncontrollably with an extreme shudder of seat, wall, floor, and myself. This feeling–unusual in my flying experience–I wonder to myself, what would my last thoughts be if this hunk of metal dropped out of the sky like a molotov cocktail thrown off a building, bursting into a ball of flames among the trees and apartment buildings on the ground below? Would my last thoughts be of my wife and dog waiting for me at home? Would I think fondly of my family, and smile about the memories? Would I feel apathy or regret, anger or sadness, fear or confusion, denial or terror, or, would I ride that plane down to the ground, like Slim Pickens straddling that nuke down to the USSR, as he dropped the bomb on those cold war Ruskis. I wonder if in that moment, my inner Tyler Durden would materialize, and I would have some insightful pithy saying, forever etched in time, to spit in the eye of death and say “give me seconds please.” One could only hope, because, well, at that point, you can’t change the outcome.

I guess the true cool, the real hip, the James Deans, the Frank Sinatras, the Tyler Durdens, they accepted, instead of denied, moved on, instead of regretted. I think in the end, it is that acceptance of the inevitable which defines the coolest of the cool. Hell, when the world collides with Melancholia, I hope to be sitting on the lawn of some house, its verdant lawn stretching down to the crashing ocean, with my friends and family by my side, my wife and dog right next to me. Drinking the most expensive bottle of rye whisky ever made, we will sit there sipping manhattans made with ruby port, and I’ll dress in a black suit, black tie, white shirt, with dark cruiser sunglasses on, my bare feet feeling those soft, flexing blades of grass between my toes. I will watch the earth spin into oblivion with a coolness reserved only for the classic hip.

In the meantime, I will settle for plane flights with free wine served from the flight attendant’s cart. But, in the event the world spins out of control, I should stock up on whisky. I mean, you never know who might crash the party.

The Hipster….or Is It?

The hipster is a media invention to further categorize a subculture of individuals. In my recent research I have observed that there are hipsters, but there are not. First off, who is responsible for creating a category of a people. Who has the authority to group a people together, homogenize their characteristics, and then come out with a name which somehow, becomes their identification? This always complicates research when you begin to delve into thoughts such as this, and ponder questions of a more esoteric nature.

The hipster exists, in the sense that the media and mainstream culture has created the designation, and then adorned a group of individuals with such a name. It is like designating an area of nature as a national park. In doing this we somehow change the landscape of that natural wonder just by placing a moniker upon it, altering the lens through which we view this area. Now this is not to say that the identifiers–traits, idiosyncrasies, characteristics–that are attributed to the hipster subculture are not accurate, that would be far from the truth. But a problem arises from this. To simply categorize a subculture on identifiers is such a hollow undertaking, it smacks of typecasting. So the newspapers, magazines, newscasts all take this name, this category, and begin the conversation on this group of individuals, which then lends credence to the belief and existence of hipsters. You begin to see books written on such, and it becomes a catchy phrase–sometimes good and sometimes out of disdain. Whatever it may be though, this is an invented name. But, this then leads to something else, isn’t everything invented? Isn’t it all a cultural construct?

The hipster exists, and is a person who does not self identify as such, which poses the unique conundrum, are there really hipsters? This interesting dynamic has much depth and philosophical thought propelling it forward. Because again, who creates identities such as “hipster?” Who holds the cultural authority to lump a group of people with like characteristics into one category and ignore the fact there are so many facets to one human being, let alone thousands and millions? A group of people will always be heterogeneous, no matter how many similarities they possess. So the hipster exists on paper and in my research, as an easy way to show similarities between a group of people who have come together, existing in close proximity to each other, in communities they help mold and create through an immense entrepreneurial spirit which is fascinating and inspiring. For the public at large, “hipster” exists for people to easily identify and find comfort in the ability to categorize another human, with a quick judgement based on exterior features. This quick reference tool, is what we do everyday in life.

But in the end, the hipster does not exist. The hipster is a myth, a phantasm, an illusion. Because how can you say a person is something, if they truly believe they are not? Remember, its all a cultural construct.