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The Conquest of Cooling - De File
Does Collecting Make You Feel Dirty?
The Conquest of Cooling
When Thomas Frank's book The Conquest of Cool came out, I was torn between the appeal his incisive critique held for me and my reservations about its purpose. As much as its bite appealed to me at a time when too much cultural analysis was unwilling to draw blood, I worried that Frank had made mordancy an end in itself. A decade later, the differences I then perceived between The Baffler's political aesthetic and my own have been softened by nostalgia for an era that seems absurdly remote, like the Roman Republic viewed from the year 1000. Today, I'm far more likely to identify with Frank's work than to identify the ways in which it clashes with my convictions.

My metamorphosis has been facilitated by the ever-expanding access we have to cultural evidence that makes what I once regarded as Frank's exaggeration for effect seem like a model of understatement. The Presidency of George W. Bush has turned showmen into servants of modesty. And then there's the wealth of material available in collections like the Prelinger Archives, which reminds us that the madness of the present conjuncture represents the convulsions of a longer durée:

While the 2000s are probably the low-point of American history, at least as it is viewed from the perspective of foreign policy, the 1960s for which I still have vast born-too-late longing were not much better. But the confusion they introduced into consumer culture was considerably more intense. Those children, myself included, who were conceived in the Summer of Love were born into a Spring of Hate. And do-it-yourself refrigerator decoration: "Commodify your failure to dissent."

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6 comments or Leave a comment
flw From: flw Date: August 30th, 2007 08:40 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
You know what you need? You need to get into Pogs. Then you can see where all the fun is, and you can quit all this post-modern stuff. I don't even understand what you are getting at.

I'm going to redo my myspace page with the Baffler stylesheet!

Cool has been so conquered that you can't even be uncool without being cool.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: August 30th, 2007 05:50 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I need a sweater. Or at least a swest.
bitterlawngnome From: bitterlawngnome Date: August 30th, 2007 02:16 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
that's a wicked funny commercial, but could you please put it behind a cut? it auto-plays every time I load my friends page.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: August 30th, 2007 08:28 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Sorry. It took me a little while to figure things out. All better.
From: cut_dead Date: August 30th, 2007 02:42 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
In an age of rollershoes & fitness clubs for dogs, designing your fridge to look like your wardrobe doesn't seem so bad in comparison.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: August 30th, 2007 02:43 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I suppose. But I blame the obsession with new "skins" for technological devices on Westinghouse!
6 comments or Leave a comment