Of film heroes and the emotionally disturbed

Open your eyes and stare into space. Humphrey Bogart could do that just as well as Clint Eastwood or Alain Delon. The cold look into the distance, apparently not clouded by any emotion. The hero: a man. His demeanor: far removed from any soft, feminine sentimentalism. Determined, tough - cowboy or killer. Ice cold, cool.

"Clearly, of course, it has something to do with a certain ideal of masculinity. Interestingly, you can almost observe a double strategy that on the one hand the ideal of masculinity is declining - I'm talking about a certain image in Hollywood films, whether this is the case with Turkish young people, whether or not That is the case in Japan, whether this is the case in Africa, is an open question. In relation to our culture, it probably goes back. But cool women come to the fore, so the type Uma Thurman in Kill Bill, for example. "

RĂ¼diger Zill, philosopher at the Einstein Forum in Potsdam.

The screen stars of the past century sometimes managed to prove their limitless sovereignty without any "cool" accessories. Today's hero-imitators usually need reflective sunglasses, open-topped cars, bulging muscles, or peaked caps turned back.

"Cool is a demarcation mechanism. But cool is not always cool. I have tried to differentiate between cool behavior that arises from disappointment and tries to suppress certain emotions, and cool behavior that actually allows affects in the background, but channels them. Or by such a feeling, dictated by a melancholy feeling that is almost indifference. "

The abysses of everyday coolness were only worth looking at for the Einstein Forum at its conference. The well-formulated title of the event - "Apatheia / Prudence / Coolness" - already indicated that they did not want to get in common with contemporary badger attitudes, but sought a historical-philosophical perspective. Cool not as a fashion appearance, lifestyle or ideal of beauty. But "cold" as an anthropological constant.

The literary scholar Helmut Lethen - specialist in "New Objectivity" and "Theories of Cold Behavior" - found what he was looking for in Friedrich Nietzsche.

"With Nietzsche it is said: The seriously suffering person looks out from his condition with a terrible coldness. .. That is of course everything to the taste of the cold freaks. But Nietzsche does not stop at this thought. It is a matter of seconds. Kick Recovery, the pathos of the cold gaze is recognized as arrogance. "

The cult of cold - we remember - was also considered an ideal in ancient Greece: "Apatheia" was a prerequisite for the peace of mind that the Stoics worshiped. And even when far from the West, domination is not necessarily interpreted as arrogance or attitude. In Zen-influenced Japan, external lack of emotion ultimately stands for balance and inner peace. And in hot Africa, reported Heike Behrend, a cultural scientist from Cologne, "coolness" is associated with balance, calm and moisture - quite a contrast to the dry and dusty impression of our "cool", which is not only associated with arrogance and distance, but sometimes also bears traits of the pathological, as pointed out by the Mainz psychoanalyst Michael Huber:

"I think coolness is not something you put on as a mask - what is it for? Rather, it arises from the need to not be able to be otherwise. If people experience feelings as dangerous, then it is better to do than stand you over there. Take a narcissistic position where the others are exposed to their feelings and you don't need to yourself. "

So what now? Is coolness cool? Or a case for the couch? - This question showed the problem of the conference. What did they actually want to negotiate - a motif from popular culture, an adolescent attitude of adolescents, a topos of the history of philosophy, a clinical picture? The focus wasn't that clear.

The "cool" research is not entirely new. The relevant work by some of the conference participants also appeared a decade ago. On the other hand, the attitude the term describes is more widespread than ever. The distance to one's own feelings increases.

"I'm afraid it has a high social value to be cool. Unfortunately" "