This Bright Hot Center

Here's part of interview with this guy Bill Wasik, who wrote a (apparently famous though I'd never heard of it) story for Harpers in whch he created some sort of fake flashmob:

W: A lot of people move to New York because they have a subconscious sense that they want to get closer to the center of the culture. Which of course means getting close to the next big thing—

V: —and sometimes even participating in making it.

W: Yes, I don't mean in an entirely passive way. It's exciting. People who move to New York go through this process in whatever area that excites them—books, magazines, indie rock, dance, theater, any of these things—there's this process where you become embedded in the creative groups of people who live here. You're self-consciously trying to wend your way closer and closer to this bright hot center. You only know it's there because you see people who appear closer to it than you are, and you're like "I want to be that close." And you get that close, and you're like "I want to get even closer." And so somebody you know tells you about some reading by some writer, and maybe you've never even read them or maybe you even don’t necessarily think they’re that good, but you’re like, "Well, it's the thing to do, so I’m gonna go."

Here's another good bit:

V: I've talked to some friends who liked your story, and some who hated it. As far as the haters go, I think you may have broken a major hipster taboo here, which is don't use the word "hipster," don't try to define hipster, anyone who purports to understand the hipster doesn't understand the rules of the game and therefore must not be a hipster. You seem to have waded into territory where there's a code of silence, where you're supposed to knowingly nod and wink but not really talk about who we are, what we stand for, and why we go out. Why's that? Is the truth that embarrassing?

W: Right, the one weird thing about "hipster," is that it's a word that nobody applies to themselves, or openly admits to being.

V: So hipsters are those guys over at the next table that dress like us but aren’t quite getting it.

W: Yeah, I thought a lot about whether or not that was the word I was going to use. Other than the fact that nobody seemed to take the term on as their own, it did seem to accurately describe the phenomena I was talking about, so I decided I would use it. I wouldn't have used the word "hipster" a year and a half ago, but recently I've started to hear people use it in a way that does sort of begrudgingly describe themselves in a broader sense. It's not just "those assholes who live in Williamsburg" or "this mean little clique of people who aren't at all like me." The broader sense means like "the self-consciously cultured people of a certain generation, who are trying to get closer to the culturally central thing, trying to feel like they're up on matters." That doesn't just include people who wear tight corduroys but also a lot of the Internet culture and people who are all into the same shit.

Read, as they say, the whole thing.