"Hipness has been an indelible part of America's intellectual and cultural landscape since the 1940s. But the question 'What is hip?' remains a kind of cultural koan, equally intriguing and elusive. In Dig, Phil Ford argues that while hipsters have always used clothing, hairstyle, gesture, and slang to mark their distance from consensus culture, music has consistently been the primary means of resistance, the royal road to hip. Hipness suggests a particular kind of alienation from society--alienation duenot to any specific political wrong but to something more radical, a clash of perception and consciousness. From the vantage of hipness, the dominant culture constitutes a system bent on excluding creativity, self-awareness, and self-expression. The hipster's project is thus to define himself against this system, to resist being stamped in its uniform square mold. Ford explores radio shows, films, novels, poems, essays, jokes, and political manifestos, but argues that music more than any other form of expression has shaped the alienated hipster's identity. After World War II, hip intellectuals began to conceive of sound itself as a way of challenging meaning with experience--that which is cognitive and abstract, timeless and placeless, against that whichis embodied, concrete and anchored in place and time. Through Charlie Parker's 'Ornithology,' Ken Nordine's 'Sound Museum,' Bob Dylan's 'Ballad of a Thin Man,' and a range of other illuminating examples, Ford shows why and how music came to be at the center of hipness."--Book jacket.