The List






The Definition of Cool


Here 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 Facel Vega 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 ill-advised violence.

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 ask Saint Peter).