Monday, February 26, 2007

And another thing, I've been wondering lately... Following on from my theory about the baby hipsters who live in motherfucking North Melbourne, on Saturday night there was a massive warehouse party there. In the most desolate part of that godforsaken suburb, under some silos. Hipsters (or coolsies, in the internet's parlance) descended upon this place in their hundreds - when the cops busted it up at 4am, cabs were called for 870 people.

I was at a friend's 30th on Brunswick Street, and I decided to go to North Melbourne because I had also been invited to a tastemaker's birthday - he lives in the next street from this party. Getting out of my cab, I ran into a hipster I recognised, who explained that all the birthday partygoers had left to go to this other thing. So I thought I'd go along. I stayed until about 1am. When my cab home crossed the intersection of Swanston and Queensberry Streets, my feeling of relief was like walking into an air-conditioned building on a boiling hot day.

Even while I was there, I was curious about what was making me feel so alienated, like an impostor at this party. After all, I knew many people there. And I was wearing what my mother would call a 'get-up'. And if someone asked me who I was and what I did, I would be able to give a suitably hipstertastic response. (Such a response impressed a girl next to me in the toilet queue, who worked for a certain fashion street press run by a certain street press company with a reputation for treating its employees badly.)

It seems like such a disjuncture that my anticipated positive affects of 'sceniness' - a sense of belonging; being validated in my social choices by being surrounded by people who've made similar choices; a feeling of immersion in the event (paging Glen!) - should have been replaced so emphatically by negative ones - a sense of not belonging; feeling as though my social choices were wrong and inferior; a feeling of alienation from the event that was literally manifested in my standing on a wall like I was Poindexter.

Maybe it's because I don't have enough pride in and conviction of the coolsiness of what I do. Maybe it's because I don't believe in myself and so I can't come at the idea that other people might think I belong. Or maybe it's because I'm too fat and too old. Or not drunk enough. But I couldn't help wondering if I am in the wrong 'scene'. Or is the problem sceniness itself? I'm leaning towards the latter, because surely the affects of sceniness operate in similar ways whatever scene you're in.

I just re-read my CSAA paper because I know I'd advanced an idea that sceniness is a kind of affect that's both spatialised and temporalised, about the ways that 'moments' enable things to happen with and to the body. But the fucking paper is making no sense. You can really tell that I wrote it while I was exhausted and overwhelmed by the ideas I was trying to get my head around. Yet, I still find some of the quotes I used tantalising and meaningful. Like this one from Merleau-Ponty: "Perception does not give me truth like geometry but presences". I like the idea that things were there because they were felt. Maybe Merleau-Ponty means "truthiness".

Note: I was going to post some photos of this event, some taken by me, some taken by Pham. But I didn't end up doing this for two reasons. First, I wanted to post them to give you more of an understanding of what I felt like to be at this party, and the photos just don't convey that. As Tash said when she saw them, "It just looks like a party." And second, I didn't want to fall into that genre of mocking hipster photos: a genre that appears, self-reflexively enough, to have started with Vice magazine's Dos and Don'ts, and has expanded to Blue States Lose and even the internet's own "Shake Some Captions". I think that the party photography genre is fascinating precisely because it attempts to capture the affects of sceniness.

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