Playing Doctor

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Thursday, June 9

Economies of Cool

You might like your aunt, but she’s not cool. Cool’s like cash. Its value’s imposed, not intrinsic. Liking something doesn’t give it value.

Well, that’s not entirely true. You can give something your coolness to make it slightly cool. But you can’t do it with just anything, or you’d give away all your coolness. That would make you uncool.

Giving away some coolness is not a bad thing, as hoarding too much of it will give you the dreaded title of Hipster, in other words: Counterfeit.

In order to be cool, you have to give some of it away.

Let’s admit it, being cool is conflicted.

For example, knowing is cool, but learning is not. Looking cool is mandatory, but trying to look cool is very, very uncool. Talking about cool is admitting to the drudgery of one’s uncoolness, so it’s impossible to understand how or what cool is, except intuitively.
Cool is in control.
Conformity is not cool. Being an individual without being a freak is the finest of lines to walk. What makes it tricky is that—to the uninitiated—coolness is freakiness.

Humility is cool. Assuredness is more so. Humbled assuredness is always the goal. Another impossible line to walk.
And being cool is about never walking a line. Any line at all.
Mockery is not cool.

Well, mocking someone can—in certain rare circumstances—be cool.

Arguing that—say—the US would not be liberating Iraq if they didn’t have oil is irrelevant and uncool. Arguing that the US is only pretending to liberate them to steal their oil, well that may or may not be cool, depending on how annoying the person is while making the argument.

(If the politics are too distracting, you can substitute ‘the US’ with Erik, ‘Iraq’ with Mary, ‘liberating’ with ‘helping with algebra,’ and ‘their oil’ with ‘her virginity.’)

Quoting people is not cool. Interpreting their meaning can be cool, if you avoid words like discursive, pluralities, paradigm, and transgressive.

Calling attention to the surface of things is uncool. But differentiating between surface and substance—differentiating between hip and cool—is quite difficult. Like religion, if you genuflect at the right times, sing the right hymn, and know the right prayers; it’s impossible to know what resides in your heart.

Taking the safe route—being ironically uncool—is not only uncool, it’s an insult to both yourself and what it means to be cool.
Cool is always honest, but rarely forthcoming.
It can sometimes be cool to align yourself with things that are particularly uncool, if it’s genuine. This alignment can work like what investment bankers call ‘a short,’ which is—essentially—selling a stock with the idea that you’ll buy it back when its price lowers.

This is similar to what we talked about earlier, but with this technique you are not making the object cooler: You are admitting a lack of coolness, which makes you cooler. This is a specific application of the maxim that taking risks is cool. Embracing what you love, despite its uncoolness, is cool. I don’t know exactly why, it just is.

Maybe it’s because of the central truth about being cool: it is indefinable. Any attempt to do so would only prove the uncoolness of the attempter.

Especially if the whole ‘Cool, Not Cool’ thing is a cheap rip-off of King Missle's Gay, Not Gay. (Streamed, Not Streamed)

Tomorrow: Cool Dominos


Blogger dan writes:

Man, it sure sounds hard to be cool. But I guess your point is that if you think it's hard to be cool, then you obviously aren't. Of course, posting about what is cool and what is not cool can run you the risk of being uncool by seeming as if you think you are the purveyor of cool. And nobody likes people who think they know what's cool. Few people can do it, but I think you pulled it off. Especially since I laughed out loud at your punctuation rant. I, too, am a fan of excessive punctuation and the superfluous last comma in a list. And your statement about the ironically uncool attempt at being cool is quite astute. There was a really funny scene in a Simpsons episode once where the parents tried to understand what was really cool - being uncool or pretending not to be cool - but quoting the Simpsons is decidely uncool these days so forget I said anything.


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