Recognising “cool”

Jonathan has just finished his second week at Jazz School and it is going remarkably well. He has even accepted that he needs to practice. (phew)

One class he takes is called contextual studies and is a short version of the history of the western world, with emphasis on art, architecture and music. He also has a tutorial for this class focussed more on the musical aspects. This first section has been about “culture” and how it affects people, and how people affect culture. In the lecture they mentioned “culture shock”, which occurs when we are surrounded by a culture we are not part of, and have difficulty making sense of. It struck me that Jonathan is pretty much in a permanent state of culture shock. Everything has to be explained and analysed. Nothing “goes without saying”.

At the end of the tutorial the tutor commented that we all know what “cool” is. We can’t define it, but we know it when we see it. Well, Jonathan doesn’t. He has no concept of “cool”. When you are totally blind, with autism thrown in it’s pretty hard to tell anything from appearances. Sighted people fail to realise how much Jonathan has no concept of. Colour, light, sky, mountain, tree, ocean, most animals… Not a clue! Art? Pretty much meaningless. Architecture? I can see this subject is going to be a challenge.

Having said that, I don’t know if I’ve ever been cool. William was pretty impressed when I clocked Tomb Raider, and that made me cool in his eyes. Developing iPhone apps makes me a bit cool in some circles. Maybe I’m too old to be cool. I’m far from musically cool. Most of the people the tutor mentions in class are names I may possibly have heard of, but don’t mean anything. So I guess cool is culturally constructed.

Fortunately Jonathan feels no need to be cool. This is just as well when his wardrobe is chosen by his mother. Having said that, people have often said that Jonathan is cool. I think the fact that he is who he is, without any pretense or excuse probably makes him cool.


1 thought on “Recognising “cool”

  1. Pingback: Shibboleth, Myxolydian, Heteroscedasticity – and Kipling | Learn and Teach Statistics and Operations Research

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