Hip and Square

Recently I am reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. In this book, the word "square" keeps appearing over and over again. And it is difficult to figure out its meaning. For example:

That’s the dimension he’s in. The groovy dimension. I’m being awfully square talking about all this mechanical stuff all the time.

It must always be remembered that this was the nineteen-fifties, not the nineteen-seventies. There were rumblings from the beatniks and early hippies at this time about "the system" and the square intellectualism that supported it, but hardly anyone guessed how deeply the whole edifice would be brought into doubt.

The only ones who’re solving it are solving it at a personal level by abandoning "square" rationality altogether and going by feelings alone.

Sometime square and hip are used together, which makes me more confused.

You take your analytic knife, put the point directly on the term Quality and just tap, not hard, gently, and the whole world splits, cleaves, right in two - hip and square, classic and romantic, technological and humanistic - and the split is clean.

From these excerpts we can see that square often appears together with mechanical stuff, intellectualism, rationality, classical, technological意思接近, 与groovy, feelings, hip, romantic, humanistic意思相反。


  • (informal) a person considered to be old-fashioned or boringly conventional in attitude or behavior.

说明square有传统的、保守的意思。但hip and square又是怎么回事呢? 看了Wikipedia上对square的解释后我终于明白了。

Square有传统的意思,例如think inside the box,这个box就是一个束缚我们思想的square。而随着 1940s美国非主流文化运动的展开,年轻人希望能够打破传统,追求一种新的生活方式。这一代人的代名词就 是hipsters,以及1950s的beatniks,1960s的hippies。因此,hip and square的确就是一对反义词了。