How Cool Are You?

Posted by | November 28, 2018 | Human Thinking and Behavior, Personality | No Comments

I just read Thomas Hodgkinson’s new book on how to be cool. I know — you wonder why someone as cool as I am would read that book — you cannot imagine me being any cooler than I am. But you could be wrong.

Hodgkinson lays out nine criteria for being cool. The person has to be stylish, rebellious, reckless, rootless, promiscuous or celibate, expressive/artistic in some way, flamboyant or austere, eloquent or silent, and calm.

I have two thoughts about the criteria. First, I meet at most a few of the criteria. Second, “nine” is not a cool number. There are not nine Commandments; we do not have nine digits.

So I added a tenth criterion: The person has to show self-assurance. I am thinking of James Bond here. He is not a real person, but he definitely is cool.

The book describes many cool individuals from history, for instance David Bowie, Che Guevara, Billie Holiday, Jack Kerouac, and Madonna (the modern one).

The only one of the individuals mentioned in the book I ever saw in person was the excellent poet Maya Angelou. She once gave the commencement speech at a university where I worked. As she spoke, she burst into song, showing a surprisingly good voice. I later read in her autobiography that her first adult job involved working as a prostitute. It took her years to find a new line of work.

Many of the individuals mentioned in the book came to an untimely end. For some, their recklessness led to an early death due to abuse of alcohol or some other drug. Many of the rebels (and the gays) were crushed by the surrounding social system.

There seems to be a major cost to being cool. My consolation for not being particularly cool is that I can avoid paying that cost.

But wait: At the end of the book is a self-test of coolness. My writing a newspaper column boosted my score because the activity is expressive/artistic.

My test score indicated that I am reasonably cool but that I am unlikely to start my own religion. My response: I have my eye on some new cool clothes; also, I am working on something like a new religion. Give me a few years.

Hodgkinson says that Jesus Christ is the person who best fits the criteria for cool. I see most of the cool characteristics in Jesus. But I do not see style. As far as we know, he was no Beau Brummell, who set new standards by wearing three-piece suits and other fancy clothes. Also, I am unaware of any biblical or historical indications that Jesus was either promiscuous or celibate. He was cool though. 

How cool are you? Who do you think meets all or almost all the criteria?


[Photo by The Independent Newspaper]




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