The Definition of Cool
at Bonne Gauche, we often
talk about cars, watches or design items being 'cool' -
referring, perhaps, to an intrinsic, effortless elegance
that differentiates the items we revere from those that are
merely functional, ugly, or are trying too hard. The
underlying notion is that the possession of cool items
confers some of their inherent coolness on the owners.
To a certain extent this is demonstrably true: the
impression that we may form of a man climbing out of a
would be quite different to the impression of the same man
exiting a Vauxhall Vectra, or worse, a Porsche Cayenne.
However, sometimes coolness is not a consequence of
possessions and their associations. Sometimes a person can
be cool without the assistance of these aesthetic props. In
fact, sometimes a person can be cool whilst directly
contravening the rules of coolness.
For an example of this scenario, we need look no
further than our TVs, and the US drama Californication. For
those of you who are not familiar with this series, it
centres on the life of Hank Moody, a troubled novelist,
whose lifestyle involves frequent casual sex and
recreational drug use, and the occasional bout of
Throughout the series, Hank is shown driving a black 964-era
Porsche 911 cabriolet - under normal circumstances a car
that would only be viewed positively by a gay investment
banker from the 1980s- yet he still manages to look cool in
it. More than that, though - he makes you begin to think
that you too might look good driving a battered late 80s
convertible 911 around the streets of LA.
You won't, of course, but it's worth pausing for a moment to
consider why this is the case. The best explanation seems to
be that Hank's coolness is derived from a wilful insouciance
that is in direct opposition to the social norms associated
with the ownership of luxury sports cars such as Porsches.
Hank doesn't give a f**k about the state of his 911, (or
about the amount of class A drugs he takes or the number of
women he sleeps with, for that matter) and this provides him
with immunity from the normal negative connotations of
driving a 911 convertible.
In the real world, it would be difficult to replicate Hank's
couldn't-care-less attitude, and besides, the act of
attempting to do so would, in itself, make you uncool; it's
cool to be a leader, but never cool to be a disciple (just