After hearing about the origins of film, I began to wonder why the idea of film was developed and what how other types of art might have come to exist. If Thomas Edison, the Lumiere brothers, and Georges Melies were able to envision something as complex as film there must have been other people who were the same designers within their art. Immediately I began to think of blues music. I first started with the history of the blues, which is very similar to the beings of cool, starting mainly through the slaves. No one can take full credit for the idea of the blues, or at least that person has never been given that credit. It has taken many years and many different people to make the blues what they have become today.
One of the first notable blues song is The Memphis Blues by William Handy. It was simply a song that was about a mayoral candidate, but it is in the style that is now recognized as the blues. Just as film has grown from the small store front nickelodeons that only lasted a few minutes, so too has the blues. Slaves would use call and response solos while working to pass the time and to create bonds between them. Who knew that the tragic situation of slavery would bring an art form that would evolve into so much more? Blues music was expressive, in some ways it seems much more expressive than most other music. It was a way for feelings to be shown. Like early film there were many different topics for blues music. Like The Memphis Blues, many songs dealt with things as simple as a job or an outing, but of course it also spans the gap to feelings of love and hard times. Films brought people together, just as the blues have always done.
As time passed on the music began to evolve into so many more things. It has developed into rhythm and blues, jazz, blue grass, early country, and even rock and roll. The blues have come to mean a lot and be well represented by a number of famous artists. Musicians like John Lee Hooker, Buddy Guy, BB King, Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Eric Clapton may not have been in the beginnings of the blues, but they continue to grow and mold the art form. Just as film continues to push new boundaries, the boundaries of the blues are ever changing. The art of the blues and its history are summed up well by Who's Gonna Fill Those Shoes by Buddy Guy.
What is cool? I have never really tried to truly define and explain cool, but after hearing F. John's explanation my mind began to wander about my thoughts on cool. I can see a spectrum of cool being very plausible, but I believe that every person has his own developed views about cool. F John gave us his spectrum of dissident to transcendent cool. I understand his reasoning and examples, but this does not exactly match my thoughts on cool as a whole. Yes, James Dean is dissident cool as much as Bruce Lee is transcendent cool for me, but what about my mom or even my two and a half-year-old nephew? My mom's ideas of cool are fairly similar to my own, but what is to be said for the fact that my nephew is sure his Pops is the coolest person he knows? It seems there is an age where an individual begins to develop the idea of cool with which most people would agree, but when is it? When does a person have the knowledge of culture enough to say what is or isn't cool? When do we lose the capacity to maintain that judgment?
Cool is just that to me, a judgment. A nicer way of saying this is that cool is subjective. Though many people will have similar definitions, each person will vary his own thoughts depending on his age, gender, social class, ethnicity, and general upbringing. So for me, I have a liking of classic movies, it comes from watching them with my siblings and parents when I was much younger. One of my favorite actresses from classic movies is Katherine Hepburn, and she definitely qualifies as cool to me. Her defiant nature as a woman in Hollywood led to a trend in changes in women's wardrobe and her quick wit was bold to say the least. But would every person think of Hepburn as cool? It is doubtful, but maybe this semester will bring more cool individuals to my attention, such as those who have begun to fall out of the world of cool and need only to be rediscovered. The world of cool is made of only opinions, there is no easy definition or set of individuals and I am sure it will never be that easy.