Saturday, March 1, 2008

The Birth of Cool

To attempt any comprehensive definition of Coolness is much like trying to gather sunlight in a sieve, and even less likely to shower any reflective credit on the person that attempts it. Even success in this effort makes us at most secretaries to unmindful savants; we make a science of their unconcious gestures and unstrategized charisma, all so that we may seperate the chimeras from the substance of their perfect magnetism.

A friend and I created what I believe was the formal Science of the Cool a few years ago. We arrived at a useful Trinity of Criteria out of which Coolness was variously constituted; namely, talent, the subject's level of awareness of the former, and the level of value at which society estimated the same. We employed our method of evaluation to the satisfaction of our curiosity. In retrospect though, I feel as if a more fruitful inquiry would have begun with the question, "Whence does Coolness originate?" Certainly the Greeks cannot claim the honor of paternity. Each of their foremost heroes, seizing after whatever desire for excellence most consumes him, never quite covers himself in this one. Achilles sees his end, and invites it valiantly, never pausing to allow himself to look to anything other than the consumation of his own arete. He is not cool simply because he is too purposeful, and even when Agamemnon deprives him of his purpose, his spirit and his nerves are drawn too tensely for him to look for any other fascination; he doesn't fall casually in love or take up a thoughtless hobby; probably the moment in which he stands closest to entering the Sanctum of Coolness comes in his initial meeting of the embassage, and his monologue of self justification quickly closes the door to him. Achilles is not Cool, and there is no blaming him for it. He sees the close of his horizons, and no other vista lies open to him. He does not meet the end in stoic morbidity, but with a strange, closed jawed extravagance, an exagerated acceptance of a dismal exit. This may be the truest form of masculinity for those that cannot hope for heaven, or blow smoke rings at hell.

And what of the other heroes? Aeneas falls even farther from the mark. He has a greater reason to stroke his own ego, and less of one to overrate his signifigance. He stands shorter than Achilles, but he stands nearer to history's midday, and so casts a longer shadow. He knows of the harvest of which he is the sower, and which he will not taste. His reward is only peace in a home he has not himself chosen. . .

More Later.

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