News · Fetish · Nothingness
By LUCIO BLANCO | December 14, 2012
The Death of Cool
Remembering An American Idiosyncrasy
RM Special Series: The Introduction
On the basketball court Michael Jordon defined Cool.
This RM Special Series is an exploration into the history of Cool:
Birth Evolution Death
Cool is The United States greatest cultural contributions to civilization, as profound as the discovery of a new sensibilitya new matha new emotion.
Joy Rage Ecstasy
Whoever the dude on the board is? Bravo! If only humans were this cool.
The Death of Cool? An exaggeration? An inflammatory statement to make you read this article? Right now the coolest thing on the planet is the iPhone and it is indeed a cool machine only a machine should never be the King of Cool. The rise of the machine represents the ultimate symbol for The Death of Cool. The machine will surpass human intelligence, but never Cool.
Cool is an American invention and could only have come out of America. But what really is Cool?
The roots of Cool come from a Swagger, that originated with the cowboy, the jazzman, the mountain man, the Indian and eventually filtered onto the streets of America in the early 20th Century. The Streets not only acted as a transporter of society's subconscious impulses, it also became an essential tool of innovation that brought Cool it's distinct brand of originality.
Cool like jazz, the Impressionist, The Renaissance: were eras of unparalleled originality, seemly producing one genius after another, then suddenly it's gone, and no matter how desperately preceding generations wished to bring it back, and tried to they failed. Jazz is the perfect example of this, it no longer produces innovators and for jazz that takes away the magic, what made it hop, intoxicating, the allure of the cutting edge of artistic expression and now it sits like classical music loaded deep in the museum. But let us all be grateful that these visionary artists like Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus, Stan Getz, Lester Young, Dexter Gordon (to name only a few) are still alive in recordings and still sing with the fresh penetrating brilliance, like when they first hit our consciousness…only, these genius's no longer come from jazz. There no longer appears to be any pioneers of music, in any genre. It's not about talent, it might have more to do with a saturation point leaving room for stylists and blending specialists.
And what about a much older history, less documented, outside the 24/7 recording device and central to U.S. History, to the seeds of Cool: The American Indian, however, before the appearance of the European. The American Indian lived inside nature, which is almost now a completely mythological conception, to also living amongst rival tribes and this blend of man and nature fighting for survival formed the warrior persona. Extraordinary disciplines were developed in a setting that we can only imagine like imagining civilization a thousand years from nowwe can only imagine. The Warrior Persona is central to Cool. The American Indian is Cool.
Apache moves without leaving footprints or sound.
Knowing water is close because the sound from nearby birds contain the guttural of mouths holding water.
The problem with the American Indian is that we have refused to ritualized their warrior persona, instead our history books and movies have taken away their history and replaced it with a grim tale of captivity, suppression, poverty and casinos. However, there is the truth, the truth of man and nature within each other and from it rose a wild and singular sensibility and the moment was central to this sensibility, like jazz, the movie star, a local favorite hipster whose legend is known on one strip in one city in the moment.
Cool is the The United States' greatest cultural contribution to civilization, as profound as the discovery of a new sensibilitya new matha new emotion. And for a brief moment in time, Cool was an international symbol and even an art form that you could not simply reprint like Warhol who also tried to grab its aura.
Cool still breathes though has left the stars, the ones we want most to be cool, disappearing back to the streets where it came from, where it spawned it's wound into consciousness...
What could be more perfect?
Cool, to most, has always been connected to pop culture though its birth has little to do with the glam and glitz of the entertainment industry. They accidently stumbled upon Cool and then blindly promoted it, without having the slightest understanding of what it was, only that it was/is something everyone wants. Oddly enough, there was a time when pop culture gave us our greatest exponents of Cool. Now they are dusty relics of the past. The movie star is long gone. The larger than life illusion is gone. The movie star and rock star have been replaced by performance arts only, the demand for Cool is still big ticket money. Some aberrations do appear like Michael Jordon, who invented a style of Cool that has produced many disciples like Kobe Bryant and LaBron James to name a mere few. Jordon on a basketball court defined Cool.
Besides the one in a billion anomaly, like Jordon, what's called Cool now-a-days is a forced cool. Trying to be cool is different from actually being Cool. Is it just an image thing or is it more? I believe it is much more and goes deep beneath the skin, woven within DNA and maybe this elixir of synchronicity is only revealed on film or in a photo, while in person there may be nothing resembling Cool...unpredictable, fragile like a whisper.
This is exactly why the movie star and singer have always been ideal symbols for Cool because the primary elements of Cool can only truly be understood in the physical form. Cool is a visual language that leaves a psychology everywhere it goes. Dashiell Hammett, Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Jack Kerouac all captured cool in the written form though it's true essence lies in the human personality under display in the flesh minus the emotionalism and premeditative intellectualism. It must be noted, a sense of Cool, in no way was the objective of what these great writers were attempting to accomplish. Cool brought forth a more authentic and distinctive American persona, which could be identified with nationally as well as internationally. In the 19th century, The United States was still chasing itself, firmly attached to the coat tails of European culture.
Cool can not be thought about or strategized - it only is…
A social aberration.
Hard and beautiful.
A non-intellectual perception.
A contradiction indefinable.
It's own brand of mystical violence.