There is a word that causes great tension in the air here at WMD HQ. It is a word that we try to avoid even uttering, never mind full on discussion. Whenever it is spoken, a fight is inevitably on the horizon. It is a word that sends our collective and individual irrationalities into over-drive.
This word contains four letters and begins with a C.
The word is ‘Cool’.
So imagine my horror when I got to the pile of potential WMD blogs this morning and the fourth word I read was ‘Cool’. Has one of my co-writers really written about this ultimate taboo? The guy’s got Balls. Either that or he has come down with a bout of insanity – how can we write about something that is so … well … unexplainable?
This latest attempt was inspired by an article in the Sunday Times wherein a stand-in writer for a regular columnist chose to use the word ‘Cool’ as a vehicle to explain the rise in property prices in those parts of London which have become newly fashionable – or ‘trendy’.
The ire this caused at WMD HQ is felt by all of us as the one area of ‘Cool’ on which we are in agreement is that the only physical manifestation which can be recognised as such is as a human being.
However, this is where it starts to get a bit murky. My colleague who reopened this discussion goes on to suggest that ‘Cool’ is a condition specifically male.
The reasoning behind this assertion is that part
of the essence inherent in both ‘Cool’ and maleness is the recognition that to qualify for belonging you have to possess the Courage to ‘Stand Alone’. Your integrity is on the line.
This is the moment of truth when most guys fail the test. For most of them Fear induces a placement within the stale security of the crowd, one where ‘Cool’ has no place. As a result, Life becomes a ‘settle for’ programme, the one they use to measure their future levels of cowardice.
Through this connection it follows that what we identify as ‘Cool’ evolved from men’s understanding of each other. This goes way, way back to our ancestors of a million or two years ago when Homo Erectus learned to differentiate friend or foe via his Sensing powers – then a major tool of communication – which in turn led to his newly acquired ability to bond.
These instinctive skills are all that remain within a handful of (What Men Do) guys via their ‘gut instinct’ and self-belief which they retain despite the additional development of language and the spoken and written word.
There’s a pretty thorough coverage of this subject of ‘Sensing’ in the WMD Guide. This highlights that Bonding is closely related to the silence of a male ‘Understanding’ and the Sensing ‘smell’ of trust, truth
and the depth of loyalty, plus what it feels like to be a man.
This definition of ‘Cool’ is certainly specific to males, but then on consulting the WMD glossary we are told that ‘Cool’ is: “defiant behaviour by an individual who refuses to be other than how he believes himself to be.” Does this defiant behaviour lie solely in the realm of males? Well OK, not only, but mostly.
(I’m not chickening out here, but to pursue this line of thought takes us far and wide of what is practical.)
The problem with ‘Cool’ is that it defies definition. Sure, we’ve made a pretty decent attempt in the Guide – even if we do say so ourselves – but the reality is that ‘Cool’ cannot be captured by language. Like Glamour, it is an inner quality that can only be known through the instinctive (as compared to the intellectual) senses.
Its existence is certainly not found in the advertising world’s domain pushing ‘stuff’, where to be perceived as ‘cool’ (note the small ‘c’) you have to follow the ‘In’ crowd – wear those jeans, drink that brand, eat at that restaurant, and above all else, get noticed!
Such is the antithesis of ‘Cool’.
As to what it actually is …. the debate continues.