And make no mistake about it — cool was oppressive. It told you how to be and what to be. In some ways cool was the inverse of itself. It was the enemy of freedom while pretending to be its apostle. Nowadays there is nothing more square than to be cool. So feel free to be whatever you want to be.
You may even be cool again. In a new way.
Cool was indeed oppressive — and let’s talk about what drove the Vampire to drink blood:
- Kerouac drank himself to death, essentially slow suicide. (But he was really cool each step of the way! So who cares if he was miserable?)
- William S. Burroughs — the muse behind Ginsberg and the rest of the beats — was a heroin addict who killed his common law wife.
- Cobain regularly injected himself with heroin, committed suicide, and married Courtney Love (three acts that are all variations of the the same thing).
- Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas author Hunter S. Thompson was an alcoholic and a drug addict who committed suicide in 2005.
- Mailer had SIX wives and his drinking was legendary.
I’ll leave Jimi Hendrix, another fallen Boomer icon, to name Cool’s mother and father by name:
Cool, as it has been willed into existence in the post-World War II era, is an artistic expression of the self-destructive, suicidal temperament of a bipolar mind. Others with more credibility on scientific matters and psychology (See Touched with Fire: Manic Depression and the Artistic Temperament) can back me up on this. From the same well of tempestuous emotion that fuels vivid artistic creation also flows the overwhelming self-hatred that drives both the internal suicide of drug addiction and the political suicide that comes from undermining every life-sustaining institution that has enabled Western civilization to rise from barbarism.
Thus, it is cool to destroy yourself. That has been the essence of cool since America had the luxury for it to be after winning World War II.