This guy is not posing for the camera. He’s posing for the WORLD. I saw him at the Grove Street PATH station Sunday night. He strutted past me and my roommate and coolly struck this pose up against a pillar:
He did it for a good while before my camera came out, too. He just stood there, coolly surveying the platform until the train came.
And it got me to thinking about culture and subculture, and the way we signify our memberships in large, medium, and small overlapping circles. There’s more peacockery and showmanship on the streets of New York (and the surrounding area) than almost anywhere in the world, even though most people are more alike than different. A lot of people use clothing and attitude not to put forward the person that they actually are, but the person they want to be. It’s aspirational, not necessarily reflective.
People run their perceptions of another person — their aspirational outfit — through their own set of prejudices and filters, too. And it’s a flawed system at best. The end result is that nobody knows what’s really going on, and all you have are these clumsy, lumpy mysteries. Most people have a hard time articulating what’s on their mind when you talk to them directly, so how can you tell if someone’s a tool or not just by looking at them?
I don’t know, but man, it sure works a lot of the time. The world is pretty magical that way.
Kurt Vonnegut said “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful what we pretend to be.”
And whenever I see a person in baseball hat that’s in any position other than brim-forward, cap-on-scalp, I think the wearer is sending a very clear message. They’re saying, all with the turn of a hat:
I am a proud and defiant member of a subculture that places absolutely ZERO value on intelligence. We place so little value on intelligence that we don’t even value the APPEARANCE of intelligence.