The author attempted to define cool but just like others who came before him there is can never be no standard definition of cool because standards and rules are the anti-thesis of cool. Nevertheless, the author came close when he decided to be precise rather than to be accurate.
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Although there is no way to accurate define the meaning of “cool” or “coolness” one can get close to it by understanding the spirit behind the term and Botz-Bornstein was correct when he wrote that it is a mixture of indifference, indirect, staying calm, becoming the best without being gung-ho about it, and the need to rise and become better than others while projecting an aura that it really does not matter at all and therefore there is no need to strive, sweat, and groan, just be cool about it.
The author is an academic; he is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the Gulf University for Science and Technology in Kuwait. Thus, he thinks like a typical academician using scholarly sources and other reliable information to prove a point. In this article he tried to trace the origins of cool, not the lowering of temperature but the attitude of 21st century youth culture.
In his research he was led to Hip-Hop and the origins of this genre which ultimately led him to the time when slavery was still legal in the United States as well as the time when slaves were free but considered as second-class citizens that requires segregation so that they will not be able to interact with the white man.
This means that they were double standards, according to the author, “During slavery, and long afterwards, over aggression by blacks was punishable by death” (Botz-Bornstein, 1).
They want to fight back but they know it is disadvantageous. This is how they learned how to stay “cool” – the paradoxical fusion submission and subversion (Botz-Bornstein, 1). In order to strengthen his argument the author had to go to Greek philosophy and he said that there is something common between Hip-Hop cool and the Stoics. He said that the stoics were indifferent to fate when the rest of the ancient world had created a life based on the idea that fate governs life (Botz-Bornstein, 1).
He went even further by citing Epictetus, a Greek philosopher who asserted that there are things that people can control and there are things that they cannot and in those instances it is wise to let go – the author said this is the essence of cool. The author tried to show that he used credible sources but linking Stoic philosophers and rap artists may be too much.
The author did not stay with that definition and he pointed out that there are many interpretations of cool. He said that coolness is the determination not to go to the extreme.
He also said that coolness is a matter of balance (Botz-Bornstein, 1). It is control without thinking that one has absolute control or can single-handedly change the outcome of the situation like a dictator or a perfectionist would like to believe. It is the ability to stay focused and calm even if defeat is sure to come. It is to attain something significant but not to appear desperate in keeping it.
A multi-millionaire is cool as long as he can enjoy his millions and is not living in constant dread that someday everything will be gone and so has to work himself to death to maintain that lifestyle.
Those who will read this article can agree on a limited basis with Botz-Bornstein definition of cool. Even after an exposition on the possible origins of cool and how it is viewed by the youth it is not clear that no one has come up with a standard definition.
And this is simply in keeping up with the idea of cool which is to not conform, to be indifferent, not to be placed in a box so that there is no room to breathe. Cool then seems to signify a desire for utopia even if one is aware that it is impossible to achieve it in this world. Nevertheless, the author was able to show that this is what teenagers are thinking when they applaud artists, musicians, and philosophers who in their mind embodied the true meaning of cool.
It is hard to accept the connection between Stoic philosophers and rap artists who are happy to not receive any formal education and pride themselves in spending time in prison. There may be similarity in terms of their nonconformist attitude but to say that Hip-Hop artists are like Greek philosophers is too much to take.
Botz-Bornstein failed to give a concrete definition of cool and by doing so he indirectly contributed to the creation of youth culture that says hard work, dedication, perseverance, goal setting, and winning consistently are ideas that must be treated with contempt. The author encourages may have not known it but he has encouraged the young not to push themselves to the limit in order to discover their true worth.
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It is therefore a surprise that Botz-Bornstein, did not include another aspect of being cool and it is rebellion. It is a surprise why the term rebellion or rebel did not appear in the article. He may have tried to glorify the idea of being cool. He even went as far as going to the Greeks for inspiration. But he was afraid to open Pandora’s Box when he did not discuss rebellion.