Whenever I am worried about being "cool," I am caught up in the capitalist configuration of social relations and turning my consumption, my efforts to sustain and "reproduce" myself, and even my efforts to concretize and express my identity into labor on capitalism's terms. I am regarding social relations as intrinsically competitive with the reward being not reciprocation in the abstract but validation as a zero-sum thing -- I win the exchange when I am seen as cool relative to someone else, who is less cool. And the cool I have produced in my person, through my mediation of my everyday existence, will extend the tyranny of cool over social life that much further (I've enhanced the "value" of other commodities in symbolic terms, in terms of their coolness); in exchange I get to feel a little more secure in my status. I get to feel a little better about myself by feeling better than someone else.
I want to be in contact with things, people, contexts that make me feel alive. I have a specific definition of alive, which is I want to feel like I am being changed. Someone who’s completely habitual, is set in their ways of thinking and doing, that type of person is liable to see days in a calendar as being pieces of material that you use to achieve your goals. There’s all kinds of degrees between that and someone who’s so completely open to every moment that they’re dysfunctional or something, but I want to live closer to that second pole. I think about things that are enlivening to me, and they tend to be encounters, conversations — that “My Dinner With Andre” type of conversation where you and your conversation partner are changed by the end, you’ve covered new ground, you are both now somewhere else. But it’s also encounters with nonhuman life that is growing and changing, and realizing that I am also changing and evolving. To me those are the reminders that, yeah, I’m alive, today is not the same as yesterday, I will be different in the future, therefore I have a reason to live, which is to find out what that change is going to be.
Your observation, your acknowledgment, your intuition, your meditation is what will make art of it. Allow yourself that privilege. Become enveloped within each and every image until the air of the past is indistinguishable from the present and there begin your own journey. Backwards through time. Backwards through each and every change of hands. Backwards through adhesive snares in every photo album tenderly brought down from the shelf. Backwards through lives lost and now born and up until the very moment that the camera shutter snapped closed. Once you've arrived, unravel all that you can. As impossible as it may seem, go and uncover every buried secret that may lie beneath every detail now immortalized. Leave no speck of ink untouched before returning to where you now sit and know that even without names and without stories and without the memory of how the scrap metal or winter chill or fear of war or smell of dew felt, with a single photograph, the conduit through which existence may endure to the present is you.
Under your stewardship,
this proof of existence has life left to breathe.