Sunday, June 04, 2006

Mature Cool

Maturity is the ultimate uncool. Mature literally means ripe, but in the eyes of cool it means old. And old means outdated, irrelevant and not cool.

Very few people manage to maintain a cool in their maturity. Johnny Cash was one. For some reason hipsters clung to the septuagenarian Cash like they never did in his prime. One reason maturity is not cool is because mature people no longer care about being cool, and cool’s power disappears like mist when people stop believing in it.

To the hip young, an old person is a memento mori – a reminder of death. The old person carries in his or her body the signs of time fleeing. Cool is about effortless mastery of the environment, and stiff joints, failing eyesight, brittle bones and gray hair are sure proof that the environment will always prevail.

People who are not afraid to be reminded of death can linger in the presence of maturity like the cowardly hipster never can.
All this to say: I just read a book about Eldridge Cleaver - a collection of the former Black Panther's lifelong writings. Most notable about the book was its emphasis on the mature Cleaver's thought. The author of Soul on Ice, the definitive black power book, lived many years after his black power days, and he changed his mind about a great many things.

He paid a big price: when he renounced violent revolution, the panthers shunned him, just as Cleaver had earlier done to Martin Luther King. But Cleaver didn't care. He was growing up, and growing old, and came to see the world differently than when he was a young man.

In the end, growing is far more human than shaking one's fist against the sky. Cool doesn't allow people to change; cool is too fickle to care about real life. Posted by Picasa


At 5:24 PM, July 17, 2006, Blogger Spud McSpud said...

Too true. As someone who was terminally uncool all through school (an English boarding school - the dark side of Harry Potter??) I looked to maturity (ie turning 30) as the end of all that posturing, the straining for acceptance that would never come, and when 30 finally happened, the loss of needing to try to fit in with any kind of "cool" group was so freeing. The flip side of this is that you then have to start worrying about what you haven't yet done with your life, and the fact that you are approaching middle age. Here in the UK, the pressure to remain cool - even as a 30something - is immense. Resist it; leaving cool behind for maturity is one of the most freeing and releasing experiences you can have. It does the soul untold good. Cool is not cool!


Post a Comment

<< Home