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Are You a Dilettante? 11 Signs to Watch Out For…

Updated: Oct 04, 2012 13:52
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If you live in New York City, chances are you’ve at least overheard one speaking at a party…

“I just realized that a PhD in transsexual history wouldn’t do anything more than keep me in a little box. My real calling is acting. But yes, I’m still running my iPhones for Nigerian Prostitutes non-profit.”

Second only to the Mormon church, dilettantism may be the fastest growing religion/social group in America today. They already hold claim to most of Brooklyn, which is now among the most desirable places to live in the country.

Unlike the Mormons, however, they do not rely on proselytizing. A dilettante will never show up at your doorstep dressed in a suit and tie… unless he or she needs to borrow money. Rather, many young disciples are lured into this new cult because of its employment opportunities. How so? Go ahead and try to get a job at Pies N Thighs or Upright Coffee without being a total dilettante.

The truth is that you cannot be employed as a 90s archetype “don’t-give-a-shit” waiter or barista without being a dilettante. Don’t even think about it.

Or maybe you were you planning on getting a grant from whatever university or public institution to build that art piece on social justice in Bhutan… If you’re not a dilettante, good luck. Like the Christian brotherhoods and guilds of old, the dilettantes have this town’s coffee and social justice industry completely by the throat… and they’re not afraid to give it a little squeeze.

But the real strength of dilettantism is that it doesn’t just have to rely on coercion. Recent studies show that it also spreads like a virus. Victims all over our nation are going to sleep hardworking students, or businessmen, or doctors, or lawyers… and waking up to find themselves turned into dabbling, limp-wristed, poltroons. Next it’s art galleries, experimental films, and that ever-elusive second degree.

Here’s the worst part: they don’t even know it! Most victims are unable to recognize their own symptoms!

In fact, you could be a dilettante right now!

So what can you do? Well, the first step is diagnosis. If you are experiencing any of the following, you may be a dilettante:

1 – You have had more than two life-altering “epiphanies” or “awakenings” in the past year.


the man in this picture has just realized that he is a dilettante

2 – You play West-African soukous records while watching television.

3 – You were really pissed when Bored To Death was cancelled. You really identified with that show.

4 – You’ve watched the entire TED video catalogue.

5 – You are over 28 and have never signed a legal document and/or held a long-term job.

is this a normal meal for you?

6 – You define yourself as an “-ist”… marx-IST… art-IST…


7 – You are gluten free but not suffering from Crohn’s or actual Celiac disease

8 – You’ve used the term “info-porn.”

9 – You are heavily involved in local politics. You have your supporters and detractors… those ingrate bastards.


are you Lincoln Restler?

10 – You borrowed money to start 3 or more completely unrelated startups in the past 5 years.

11 – Conversations quickly become forced and awkward whenever someone asks what you do for a living.

Photo Credits: & L Magazine

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Jules Owen - Wandering Wastrel

Jules Owen - Wandering Wastrel

Going to a rich kid school when you aren't even given an allowance certainly trains you to live large on the cheap. Armed with such expertise, Jules travelled the globe, surviving off of 50 cent beers and 2 dollar meals everywhere from Buenos Aires to Mumbai. Three years ago he returned to the United States, living first in Baltimore while he settled a debt with the IRS, then in Brooklyn where he plays music and writes. He aspires to one day live in a van on N.15th and Kent.