Thursday, March 17, 2005


Why I am not a Zippie

(as promised Why I am not a Zippie)

A ZIPPIE is essentially, a new breed of technoperson. So plugged in, so contemporary and immediate in ambit, so planetary in scope that he/she/it can no longer exist free of digital constraints, the electric smog of the Internet. In fact an independent existence may not be entirely desirable, because Zippies are the 21st century equivalent of medieval monks, building the spiritual datascape upon which civilisation is based.

Various remedies have been proposed to combat what is essentially a "nerd" factor. In some biographies, Zippies play a less monastic role and assume the cloak of tricksters and troubadours. Here the Zippie at play is inspired by the likes of Abbie Hofman, Jerry Rubin, Wavy Gravy and last but not least, the Three Musketeers.

Nevertheless a romantic element persists even in the writings of Fraser Clark, who refashioned Zippie into a post-punk/splice Anti-SuperHero: Hippy Plus or Technoperson combining 60s spirituality with 90s electro-suss and fashion. Arguably, doomed to failure since the attempt to industrialise primitive WoMan via the beatbox produced the Raver and a dance culture out of step even with its own time.

Today, all we know is that Zippie is, perfectly perhaps an Indian age 18-25, or more -- that the Zippie legend came from India, like the original Goa Meme, repackaged for Time Magazine and resembling a gettoblaster with banghra beats, some of which may have been sampled by Mandoza or Malaika. Which is perhaps why the music angle has been quietly dropped in favour of a passion play about the joys of work in the age of outsourcing.

At the face of it, I am delighted to gain the opportunity to re-evaluate past incarnations and to explore the collapse of distance into a sinkhole of utterances about the new NET geography. Nonetheless I am appalled by the perilous waste of time, the destruction of an exquisite and precious moment and the shedding of a decade merely in order to reiterate the view that Zippies are not America and have nothing to do with Woodstock despite what Ken Kesey or Wavy Gravy may have said.

Perhaps you are a Media Boomer and everything about the 1960s and your life was about Woodstock or Vietnam? For me, everything about the Nineties was about the Fall of the Berlin Wall, the release of Nelson Mandela, the End of the Cold War, the final shift into democracy, freedom of sexual orientation, human rights, Y2k and the end of the millennium.

The Zippies have managed to reboot themselves finally into the new age, and as I upload these words, I am made aware of the vast gap between rich and poor on both the Indian and African continents, in every city, and every neighbourhood, poverty still exists and the world is still at war with itself.

Which is why I am not a Zippie. In order to have real Zip in ones Stride, one needs a transcendent amount of cash, and this is only so that one may purchase the Bible of Zip, the kind of extraneous data that spews from the West and which refuses to be had for less than R250.

David Robert Lewis

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