Between the Hipsters and the Hasids

Behind these witticisms stands a complicated fact about hip Brooklyn and the culture it represents. America’s tastemakers have become obsessed with tradition—heritage and vintage are the marketer’s magic words—but they resist any suggestion that the past has the power to bind. Men dress like lumberjacks and women like Mad Men housewives, but both shy from assertions of sexual difference. Respect for the way monks brewed their ale (ora et labora) is not matched by a similar ­appreciation for the prayer that structured their lives. A desire to ­emulate grandmother’s pickling and needlework does not extend to the habit she felt to be most important: daily Bible reading. Hipsters are ambivalent reactionaries who love every aspect of tradition—except its authority.