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Find Theatre 7 in Ambit 233 on social constructs of health and Dante
The Death Of Cool
Gods do not need to wear gold shoes.
Shoes of disco air breathed by Nike,
shoes to be drunk in slowly
gazing through glass at night.
I would sell half of myself
in a heartbeat
to journey shod
in reflections of hope.
Cool is gone.
No more rippling surface
and forest shade
hushing us to stellar reflection,
beseaching us to
outsiders on the inside,
use our brain cells,
Excerpt from The Death of Cool published by Cold Lips. Please purchase a copy of Cold Lips 3 Featuring Douglas Hart here for the full poem:
The concept of Hungry Ghosts exists across many forms of Buddhism. A typical Tibetan image is of tear-shaped bodied creatures with bloated stomachs and pin-like necks, in perpetual need. This is often interpreted as a paradigm for hauntings of the soul manifest as addiction, compulsions and attachments, all driven by a sense of unmet human need for love. Intense emotional needs are being expressed in an animalistic manner. Some attribution is linked to neglect of ancestors. Perhaps, more accurately it is the neglect BY our ancestors (parents) that creates this hunger, although Buddhism teaches us that our responsibility then lies in how we manage this in order to be compassionately at peace with our identities. Easier said than done.
The poem explores the concept in relation to the prevailing hunger for social media and cyber gratification, neoliberalist consumption, and, of course, beautiful shoes (fetish).
The other idea is in looking at the shift away from the cultural paradigm of Cool- which includes notions of aloof or objective intelligence, celebration of outsider-identity and originality being valued. The shift to the street word Sick, although thought to originate in skateboarder speak in California, now signifies quality within a landscape of gratuitous reproduction and is a near physiological meme. What is served by the use of a negative term as a positive qualifier? Are we all sick right now and needing to normalise or voice it? Or is this a counter- cultural reclamation of stigma? Evolutionary Language scholars will have many more ideas, but I personally mourn The Death of Cool as a signifier of the devaluing of originality.
Valerie Solanas is understandably not celebrated for her attempt to kill Warhol. She was, in fact, a friend and peer of his who had significantly contributed to feminist discourse through her “Society for Cutting Up Men” manifesto, where both violence and intelligence are justified. What I love about The SCUM Manifesto is the Freudian inversion – where womb envy displaces penis envy as the societal cause of undesired phenotypes. Whether parody or not, this is a piece of art in its bold focus on the control mechanisms imposed on the female body extending through the discourse of psychoanalysis so that inferiority is built as innate mental architecture. Such is the insidious tenure of the discourse.
The poem attempts to contextualise the act as performative and embodying social activism.
I have to thank the book ‘The Lonely City’ as inspiration, written by the talented Olivia Laing.