This is today's sentence from "The Great Gatsby." (As you may have noticed, one of many quirks of the Althouse blog is the "Gatsby" project: Every day we zero in on one sentence — freeze it, personalize it, polarize it — go at it in isolation. The sentence may say: "Why do you center on me when there are other sentences that might put me in context and give me support?" Our hearts are hardened to that pathetic plea.
In today's sentence, we have talking that is both a lot and a little. It's a lot because because 2 women are talking at the same time. But it's also little, because it is unobtrusive, bantering, and inconsequential. So it's neither too much nor too little. It's not too much because it is too little. They talk over each other, but in such a gentle, light manner that it's not annoying. It doesn't even rise to the level of chatter.
Maybe the women's voices are like 2 instruments playing. The sound is described as cool, and you might think of jazz. It is 1922— The Jazz Age. But the use of the word cool to describe jazz — if I am to believe the Oxford English Dictionary — dates back only to 1948:
1948 Bridgeport (Connecticut) Telegram 13 July 9/1 Hot jazz is dead. Long live cool jazz!.. The old-school jazz created a tension, where the new jazz tries to convey a feeling of rhythmic relaxation.Maybe Daisy and Jordan Baker were getting out ahead of their hot jazz era, presaging the new sound, devoid of inflamed passion. They are full of the absence of all desire. All is emptiness: their not-quite-chatter speech, their colorless clothes, their impersonal eyes.