The Decadence of Cool


You hate them. You know who I'm talking about. Yes, those spoiled, entitled and self-indulgent brats who frolic with their free-range, organic, non-mainstream food and drinks, fiddle with their pricey iPhones, and wrap their ignorance behind seven layers of irony while regurgitating morally relativistic, politically correct babble. These freaks of nature come in two flavors, i.e. the "whatever" and the "activist". Yet, behind their pretended social persona, they're made of the same spineless, pampered, and intellectually amorphous blob. 


The (unfair) disenchantment with the Age of Reason, after it failed to bring an era of prosperity and peace for all, created a huge void in humanity which was promptly filled up by relativism. Hungry for meaning and naturally not made for true nihilism, the spiritual void in humans was slowly occupied by a combination of consumerism and cynic detachment. For those with a conscience and some neurons, communism stopped being an option too for those cursed by agreeableness after the genocides in China, Russia, Vietnam, etc. To this day, the sense of being lost continues to reign supreme throughout most of the developed world. If in doubt, suffice to witness what happens at the universities of European and North American cities, where clueless snowflakes recite Foucault, Adorno, and the like without knowing that they are calling for the complete extermination of the very same culture which is responsible for their affluence and comfort.


Humans are funny animals, though, for whenever something becomes the norm there is a backlash arising from their contradictory nature. Perennial seekers of meaning as they are, I started to notice how more conservative positions are trending among people, particularly the younger ones. And that is a good thing because the murderous chimp who walks on two legs needs rules. Biologically, humans are born with the hardware and the basic kernel of software (pardon the metaphor) for a moral structure. If that structure is not developed, or if it is spoon fed junk, the existential longing eventually emerges. Just check the experiments with babies, too young to talk or walk or make any sense at all, yet already able to react to situations of blame and praise, or to evaluate the fairness of situations presented to them in controlled environments. See them split things, or react to social stimuli. Those are not chimps but little pink, hairless worms with a moral sense. Whomever tells you humans are blank slates is either on drugs or stupid, as this is scientifically demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt. 


That is why the swing of the pendulum back to the meaningfulness found in rules, limits, and propriety is a necessary thing. The phenomenon is not devoid of its dangers, though. As an institutional machine which feeds stupidity is already there, it is crucial to have the table set for those hungry for meaning and, mind you, it's not like finding the roundness of the circle. A very good first step is to look into the past for the best that tradition has to offer. It is an intuition thing, but I will give you one bone if what the Romans understood as proper doesn't ring true anymore. The one which is most known is gravitas, because it is overused nowadays to anyone with some grey hair on their heads and a nice suit and tie. But gravitas was, for the Romans, mostly about substance of personality which pretty much comes down to taking responsibility with seriousness rather than run around like a snivelling brat whining about "my rights, my rights!". A person who has the virtue of measuring properly and quickly the gravity of any situation will think before opening the mouth, and behave in the appropriate manner for the circumstance. However, this virtue wasn't complete without pietas, or piety, because the direction of the appropriate behaviour based on the particular circumstances, no matter how dignified, had to be directed towards what is divine, both in the infinite and the others. This allows, in turn, for humbleness and selflessness to arise when acting with dignity, and it goes very well the latter because it is irrelevant if one acts with gravitas and piety one day, one week, or a month. Instead, the virtue of dignity comes from consistently acting in a virtuous way throughout one's life and, with that, comes the deserving of respect. Sure, it is not easy to act throughout one's whole life with courage, virility, and character but, hey, the alternative is those little punks we were talking about before: whiny, feeble, shallow, and unpredictable.


I can imagine what an effect would have in an educational system to teach and promote those values throughout the lens of history. Instead of intersectionality, logic. Instead of the anti-scientific gender fluidity thing, grammar. Instead of safe spaces, rhetoric. Can you imagine the classical approach to the Trivium brought back and seriously taught? You'd get as a result a generation of people who can think and express themselves well, who'd rather engage in civilized debate than picket speakers and events which they find "triggering"! Again, this could be the antidote to the shallowness of merely taking contrarian positions and regurgitating what some "Youtube celeb" says about this candidate, that meme, or some other inane subject. Because, let me tell you something, if you think that it is cool to be far right, then you are as poisonous as the far left. This is not about some shallow political tag but as creating lethal thinkers who can then go into cultivating their minds and souls with arts and sciences. Most importantly, they can nest all that intellectual and spiritual arsenal into a solid and respectable character. One for which , like a grandma once said, there are proper times and places for each thing. Heard that before? Yes, it is a classic, and it means: maturing.


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