Reiham Salam on the Angelheaded Hipsters at Sxsw Interactive

Michael Giberson

At The Atlantic‘s business blog, Reiham Salam invokes sci-fi author Vernor Vinge as he contemplates the meaning of what he saw at the SXSW Interactive Festival, but his post put me more in mind of these famous opening lines:

       I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by 
              madness, starving hysterical naked, 
       dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn 
              looking for an angry fix, 
       angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly 
              connection to the starry dynamo in the machin- 
              ery of night

Except, you know, in a good way.

Salam said one company’s offering suggested to him a kind of “hipster Second Life that involves dancing alone” and he was “reminded of the anomic dystopia vividly described in Allan Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind.”  Maybe it was his use of the word “hipster” so near the phrase “anomic dystopia vividly described” that put me in mind of Ginsberg’s Howl.

Nonetheless, Salam finds reasons to hope for the future, reasons to think that the Austin-gathered angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient wireless connection to the starry dynamo will produce something fantanstic, something capable of enabling the further flourishing of human civilization in all of its diverse manifestations.  (Salam also cites Will Wilkinson, another writer I’m a fan of; the ‘enabling the flourishing … diverse manifestations’ phrase is my mangled nod to Wilkinsonian themes.)

Ginsberg and Bloom may have been pessimistic in the face of all the diverse manifestations of the world, but I’m going with Salam and the future on this one.