Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Subjective Cool

What is "cool" to you? More specifically, what is "cool" when it comes to music? Is cool something that you feel you aren't, because you don't like the things that everyone else seems to? Or is cool something else, something more personal, something that describes that which touches you, or blows your mind, or gets under your skin (in a good way)?

I find that "cool" to me ultimately means some variation on that last one. At least, when I am willing to let go of some of the bullshit foisted on me by the world at large, that's what "cool" means. I'll tell you a story. When I was very young, a small child, no one ever told me that "cool" really meant some sort of status quo in regards to fashion, art, entertainment, culture, etc. "Cool" to me just seemed to mean "that which you get excited about, or that which excites YOU." Not anyone else, just you. "Cool", for me, was always something subjective (the truth is that the other cool is subjective, too, but no one wants you to know that. It's a secret they never tell you, you have to find out for yourself). The clothes I wanted to wear? Cool. The toys I wanted to play with? Cool. The music I wanted to listen to? Cool. At some point around age 12, the world around me started to inform me that it strongly disagreed with my assessment of these things. This stressed me out for a few years, but then I pretty much adjusted.

Maybe "cool" doesn't mean this for you, but it does for me. The coolest moments are the ones in which I find something that I feel like I've always been looking for, or something that feels like it was made for me. It's how I felt when I first heard the Beatles as a kid, or when I first read Douglas Adams. It was absolutely how I felt when I began really getting into Frank Zappa in college. Like this whole world was opening up, begging me to come sit in it. I didn't have to be anything else other than what I truly was in there, and that, by God, was COOL. The people who expect/desire us to conform to some sort of cultural or behavioral rubric in order to fit into some larger, cultural definition of "cool" could learn a thing or two from the things that truly touch us and work their way into our lives. Those things, those pieces of music, art, literature, whatever, don't expect anything of us other than to come to them as we are. It is no coincidence that people find the spiritual in these things, because they share this characteristic with the divine. Find the things that you truly connect with, without having to change yourself. That's cool, but it's a billion times more, too.

1 comment:

Aimee Greeblemonkey said...

Love this post. Totally agree. I think sometimes people get too caught up with what the majority thinks is cool, rather than what THEY like.