"There is a lot to be said for 'cool theory' as a way of talking about art and books. Dinerstein uses his cast of actors, writers and musicians as kites that show which way the cultural winds are blowing.
"'What’s cool' is a question of taste … whereas coolness depends on the interaction of a contemporary audience.
"That is why jazz matters so much here -- jazz improvisation is supposed to offer an immediate expression of what the audience (in a club) is feeling. It responds, as it were, to market forces, and fame works in a similar way."
We used to call such artists emblems of the zeitgeist (literally, the "spirit of the times"), but that word has become a cliché and fallen out of favor. That's why cool – the word -- remains the password to an American mythos: it is the exclamatory term invoked when pointing to innovative artists groping for a new cultural pattern of individuality for a given audience with consequences for social change.
Kendrick Lamar (above) is one such cultural kite -- Black Lives Matter supporters chant his songs on marches -– and Miranda Lambert is another, for her embodiment of a new female country persona (right). Both have galvanized new audiences into being by publicly wrestling with the winds of change. Such artists should not be conflated or confused with celebrities – e.g., Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez -- who are more commodities (whats that are cool) than windsurfers.