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some precepts of cool

There is a very important, but not terribly serious, idea that I feel like fondling. Every now and then I’ll solicit opinions using facebook and twitter, fitting into my deeply affectionate disrespect for the tenets of social marketing. As much as I care about what people are doing, I prefer to know what they’re thinking.


Little questions, nothing too profound, that introduce the gist of an argument. That’s where true connection lies, trivial argument, philosophical impasses, well any platform that encourages people to swear at each other. This also helps when I don’t actually feel like talking to anyone, but feel the need to know what they’re thinking.

The angle here is to determine the value cool has. As far as shared sentiments go I think it could be the most shallow one we have, well that and the illusion of participatory democracy. The allegiance cool has had to the last fifty years of pop thinking has been varied and flimsy. The word seems too pissy samey to gird a real disposition. It is, however, an important word. Cool motivates, cool qualifies, cool affirms. Without that little abused four letter cliché we’d be cultural drifters unsure of why Steve Hoffmeyer irritates us.

If I had to scratch at the middle of it, give it a proper once over, I’d say it has a lot to do with that timeless stoic contemporary swagger that’s repackaged every few years. The truly disinterested and the utterly uninvolved have always seemed to have more in common with cool than those who represent urgency. Seriousness has never been cool. That’s why Lady Gaga is.

Me admitting that I think about what it means to be cool is me taking one for the team, ideologically, but we can’t all score all the time. Bob Dylan nearly said that. Dylan nearly said a lot of things. That’s probably why his life long ties with the epicentre of cool is shared knowledge. It’s in his approach to this dog show called existence that we can pluck this phenomenon’s core principles. Dylan found where the rub lay, front footed apathy, spirit filled indifference, he totally nailed it. That’s why he’s synonymous with cool and John Lennon got shot. Even though he held all the heavy cards, he never went all in because he wasn’t in it to win. That’s why the boho sentiment can’t be crowbarred from cool’s working definition and the promoted working class artist will always be a striving ball of nervous edge.

Tyler says I’m no where near hitting rock bottom yet. And if I don’t fall all the way I can’t be saved.” – Chuck Palanuik, Fight Club

That’s what the Bob nailed, he didn’t give a fuck. Yes, we can argue he projected the disposition because he actually did, but let’s not get carried away.

Gallagher will never be cool, it’s a composition at odds with his inner workings. Don’t get me wrong, he’s talented as fuck and hard as nails- but he isn’t cool.

Lennon, somewhere near the middle, began believing his own bullshit wholeheartedly. Before the waffling red-lines, let me make my point; in the realm of cool the experience beats the product. Here agency is about energy spent effecting in a significant routine and not some obscure idealogical joy to be attached to a desired outcome. The only important outcome is an elevated sense of momentary appreciation and that’s why I will never be cool. Momentary appreciation eludes me in every dimension I’m conscious of.

The closest I’ll get is a second hand version, where I’m completely meshed in an idea past or in progression. Everything slows down quite nicely when that transaction kicks off as practised. It’s a modified nostalgia or a bizarre form of cynical wishful thinking but never present. I use this as a kind of passion colostomy bag, abetting and aiding my decommissioned faculties. The fascinating thing is that cool doesn’t lose its footing because there are non adherents in the room. It’s the one cultural edifice that will never have a cover charge.

That’s why Dylan, barely able to hold a tune or make clear an idea swooned the masses. He trumped convention and tramped his way through the hinterland. He did it his way.


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February 20, 2012 Early Tilt