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Robert Farris Thompson, author of "Aesthetic of the Cool: Afro-Atlantic Art and Music"


So where did cool begin? The answer might surprise you. It's not the hipster scene of Greenwich Village or the clubs of West Hollywood. It's much farther back than that, and it's not even in the U.S. Yale Art historian, Robert Farris Thompson (aka Master T) explains cool:

”There’s Hollywood cool with leather jackets, and shades, but that’s false cool, that’s fashion cool. The real cool has a much broader semantic range than cool in Standard English. In Standard English, cool means moderation of coldness, but it can also mean bravery, sangfroid, stuff like that.

In Africa – their cool term is much broader. It includes silence, discretion, healing, purification and rebirth. And you find that the black influence is so strong in our country now with respect to this term, people unconsciously or consciously use cool to mean yes.”

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Thompson goes on to explain the importance of drumming in the culture of cool, as well as how the cultural diversity in the town where you grew up can be a key predictor of future cool.

“I grew up in a very hip city – El Paso,” says Thompson. “If I’d grown up in Duluth or Minneapolis, I’m sure I’d be where I am now.”



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