This chapter develops a picture of an emergent hip culture in the 1930s and early 1940s, during which hipness established itself as an African American poetics of self and then, in the dawning Cold War, began its transformation into a wider intellectual vernacular. From the beginning, hipness was mapped into an imaginative geography: the “nowhere” in which hipsters imagine themselves condemned to live, and a fleeting and provisional “somewhere” they fashion out of their own expressive culture. This somewhere/nowhere binary grew out of the African American hustling ethic of “game ideology” and was diffused throughout the intercultural network by which hip culture came to be constituted. Notably, its traces can be heard in jazz—for example, in Thelonious Monk's rhetoric of ironic disaffiliation.
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