Birth of the Cool
Art movements alternate between hot and cool, the emotive and the analytical. Abstract expressionism, hot, then pop art, cool; neo-expressionism, hot, then neo-geo, cool. To inherit or attain a hot bod is a no-brainer, of course, it motivates people, but one must keep a cool head. This dichotomy is natural, I ain’t complaining, but in the country that has given the world the assembly line, where men are converted into efficient, interchangeable chumps, into machines, in short, cool is not just a code but a prerequisite. Stay cool, keep cool, be cool, act cool, even as one is suffering or inflicting pain, since, in spite of all the jiggling evidences at every foodcourt, one's body is no longer supposed to be flesh, flab or cellulite, but steel-tough and glistening, a square-cornered, gas-guzzling 24/7 boner, a monster truck in loose-fitting jeans. It hasn’t always been this way. In 1957, the Everly Brothers could sing, “Bye bye love […] I think I'm gonna cry,” without being feathered as swishy Mummers. Imagine Ludicrus twanging such queer lines today. In American poetry, much of what Ron Silliman calls “school of quietude” is actually quite “hot,” but it’s a jive kind of heat, ludicrous, the melodrama of a little man in a house of mirrors, self-pitying and self-aggrandizing, procreating hisself since no fool would do the nasty with him. Call me ignorant, but who’s writing convincingly hot poems these days?