If too many people like a thing, it’s not worth liking. At least that’s the conventional wisdom. I told someone today that I like Samuel Barber’s “Adagio in Strings,” and he replied, “You and millions of other people.” That got me thinking, he might be right! If you like something too many other people like, it’s simply not worth liking. If you like Pierce Brosnan, so what? If you think the dwarf in Lord of the Rings is cool, that’s kinky.
If you like Bjork or 50 Cent or Tupac, so what? You are just not that cool. If you like some musician who just started to play music the last couple months, you must be super cool.
If you like baseball, millions of others like baseball too. But baseball isn’t considered culturally important. If you like a book, a painting, a piece of music and millions of others do too, then you have weak taste.
Anything that’s really cool, and I mean super cool, there are only about ten people who like it. If you like the Mona Lisa, that makes true art lovers scoff. You like some obscure poet in Wayne, Nebraska, some odd painter in Dutch Harbor, Alaska? Now that’s cool.
Mary Oliver and Billy Collins are the most popular poets in America and for that alone there must be haters.
I want to be cool so I try not to develop a fondness for any book more than ten people have read, any piece of music after five people listen to is just old and tired for me. I’m on the other side of cool. I’m developing a new brand of cool and as for fashion, I’m inventing it as we speak.