THE FUTURE IS COOL: “Think desires and convert to sources”

Ric Amurrio
16 min readAug 26, 2020

Music In Phase Space Episode 50


Standing on tiptoe
is not a position of strength
rushing about does not bring steady progress
braggarts only impress fools
pomposity is not respected
selfish people cannot expect generosity
those who seek fame
do not make great leaders
Those in DivineUnity
have no need for self indulgence
do not retain cancer or garbage
do not waste food or energy
those in DivineUnity
are truly free

Lao Tzu

A group of outcasts, Dubbed the Zephyr Team or Z-Boys, from a rough part of the Los Angeles that includes the beaches of Venice and Ocean Park helped spark the skateboarding boom in the 1970s and changed the skateboarding landscape forever. Rough and antisocial, they began out as surfers playing into the dropout surfer stereotype.

Between Venice Beach and Santa Monica the Pacific Ocean Park Pier was an unfinished theme park on the water. The big wood pilings and rickety piers in a U-shaped structure formed a kind of underground cove in the center of the POP, as it was called. Surfing was an extremely unsafe in this location, yet Dogtown ‘s local surfers coveted their hidden surf spot and vigorously protected it — often with intimidation. Outsiders will have to work their way in.

In 1972, Jeff Ho opened a surf shop called Jeff Ho and Zephyr Surfboard Productions in Dogtown. The shop was full of young surfers who had nowhere to go and who were hungry to prove themselves. Craig Stecyk was the artist who designed the surfboards’ graphics. Skateboarding was a hobby that had a short-lived flash of excitement in the late 1950s. In 1972, urethane skateboard wheels were invented. The Zephyr team skated on concrete like they were riding a wave, dragging their hands on the pavement. Style was most important to the team, and they pulled all of their inspiration from surfing. For the rest of the country, skateboarding was slalom (riding down a hill around cones) and a graceful freestyle.

In any medium or structure there is what Kenneth Boulding calls a ‘break boundary at which the system suddenly changes into another or passes some point of no return in its dynamic process’. Now we have multiple televisions and other types of screens (such as personal computers, laptops, cell phones, tablet computers) that are available continuously to provide a stream of images, text, and other information that we often attend to in a fragmentary and desultory manner. Therefore the experience and effect of using electronic screen technology has heated up over time.


You can’t really grow unless you understand how to do sewage. If you cant do that the city gets to a certain size and everybody dies of cholera. Next stage may be pandemics. So it’s fair to say, and that the way the future looks the way it does because of Metal Hurlant. At some point in our history, The next step in human evolution was cities. You can’t do cities without a substrate of other technologies. There’s a mathematics to it — a city can’t get over a certain size unless you can grow, gather, and store a certain amount of food in the vicinity.

In Europe or Asia that’s just life — it’s not science fiction, it’s not fantasy. But in American science fiction, the city in the future is always brand-new. Cities seem to be our most characteristic technology. The simplest and most radical thing that Moebius did was to put urban archaeology in every frame. It hadn’t been obvious to mainstream American science fiction that cities are like compost heaps, just layers and layers of stuff. Past, present and the future totally adjacent.

Mediums define the limits by which thought can operate. Mediums as well as giving us the capacity for abstract human thought, may also be seen as defining the limits by which we can think. The medium creates an environment that makes certain things possible and certain other things impossible.


One reason the lockdown has proven helpful to me is that I don’t care anymore about listening/watching images to music in hot mediums, tv, youtube etc. Diminishing returns. They have reached their shelf life and now is back to engaging with turntable, streams and the third eye

It had already been 3–4 years that I was having problems with Netflix etc as I always found more interesting things to do with myself that be submitted to someone’s idea of a good idea. Reading more, strumming into space for longer than usual, tweeting in the last year,

Will all this coalesce around a new cool medium is hard to say but if someone manages to put all this into a new thing, the future is theirs for the taking. Surest bet is turn all that into an art form and by attaching ourselves to the objects and atmosphere trying not to go from the unknown to the known (which we only do to preserve our sense of self) but from the known to the unknown

Understated elegance
There’s this Brian Eno prompt. Something like “Think desires and convert to sources”


Cool, or Itutu, is one of three pillars of religious philosophy created in the 15th century by the Yoruba and Igbo civilizations of West Africa. Cool contained meanings of conciliation and gentleness of character, generosity and grace. The Gola people of Liberia define cool as the ability to be mentally calm or detached, in an other-worldly fashion, from one’s circumstances. In Yoruba culture, Itutu is connected to water, because to the Yoruba the concept of coolness retained its physical connotation of temperature.

“Cool” is also closely associated with the deity Òsun of the Yorub religion. The “mask” of coolness is worn not only in time of stress, but also of pleasure, in traditional African cultures. Coolness may have its roots in slavery as an ironic submission and concealed subversion. The history of cool in America is the history of African-American culture. Cool is the silent and knowing rejection of racist oppression, a self-dignified expression of masculinity.


Sprezzatura or aristocratic cool means disdain and detachment. It is the art of refraining from the appearance of trying to present oneself in a particular way. Raphael’s “Portrait of Baldassare Castiglione” and Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” are classic examples. The Mona Lisa’s smile and positioning of her hands are intended to convey this.

Coolness is an aesthetic of attitude, behavior, comportment, appearance and style which is generally admired. It has associations of composure and self-control and often is used as an expression of admiration or approval. This holds connotations of anti-establishment and anti-authority. One consistent aspect however, is that cool is widely seen as desirable. Coolness is a subjective, dynamic, coolness in the beholder ‘s eye. Awesome based on “autonomy” inference.

Coolness is a positive trait based on the inference that a cultural object (e.g., a person or brand) is autonomous in an appropriate way. It has been used to describe a general state of well-being, a transcendent, internal state of peace and serenity. Cool can also refer to an absence of conflict, a state of harmony and balance.In a related way, the word can be used to express agreement or assent, such as “I’m cool with that”

I’m excluded, but I make a virtue of my exclusion; I’m prettier, sexier, and have more style than you; I don t care what you think or say about me, and I’ve nothing to say to you’. Among pre-pubescent and early-teenagers, cool has immense appeal as the antidote to their ultimate fear, of being embarrassed —

Among young adults cool is the liberated way to consume. The level of irony and self-reference in youth-oriented commercials renders them both irresistible and irrefutable. If you like them it can only be because you don’t ‘get’ them (because you’re not cool) because you have not lost respect for your society’s dominant value system.


Cool is the retreat from social entanglements, expressed verbally by the language of cool. A problem for cool is that detachment, if pursued to its limits, would lead to total social atomisation. Cool encourages the formation of tight peer groups and subcultures, unified by a shared definition of what is cool.


Narcissism in the strong psychoanalytic sense, rather than just vanity —The new ‘liberated’ personality type characterized by charm, protective emotional shallowness, promiscuous pan sexuality, avoidance of dependence, inability to mourn, and dread of old age and death. Thanks to the bomb and decreasing job security they lacked the faith in the future required for successful child rearing.


The surface meaning and the underlying meaning of what is said are not the same. Irony consists in stating the contrary of what is meant. Comedians like Lenny Bruce and Richard Pryor probed the extremities of dark, ironic humor. Any display of directness or sincerity has become almost impossibly un-cool


Hedonism is a school of thought that argues seeking pleasure and avoiding suffering are the only components of well-being. A cool good time almost always involves consuming drugs. The original 1950s cool adopted heroin as the drug of choice because opiates effortlessly produce the emotionally detached state that cool seeks.


One of the essential characteristics of cool is its mutability — what is considered cool changes over time and varies among cultures and generations. That is, something is perceived to be cool when it follows its own motivations. Cool is a real, but unknowable property. Cool, like “Good”, is a property that exists, but can only be sought after. The act of discovering what’s cool is what causes cool to move on. Cool cannot be manufactured, only observed. It can only be observed by those who are themselves cool.

It’s easier to understand this mechanism by looking at cool’s alternative label hip, which originally meant knowingness, as in ‘I’m hip to that’. Hip expresses shared knowledge of a secret that is denied to ‘the squares’ — i.e. members of the respectable society — that bonds the hip together. The word hip in the sense of “aware, in the know.”

This ‘big secret’ has many facets — reflecting many smaller ‘hypocrisies’ — and it can encompass all aspects of life. Money: everyone’s out to rip you off. Politics: the good guys never win. Crime: the only real crime is getting caught. Death: we’re all going to die. Sex: everybody does it. Family:It’s all fucked up. Drugs: they tell us drugs are nasty, but we know drugs feel good. In the background though there’s always the suggestion of a bigger, seldom verbalized, secret: the perceived ‘hypocrisy’ of straight society, a shared belief that society’s taboos have no rational basis, and are in any case regularly broken by everybody.


Avant-garde artists gained prominence in the aftermath of the First World War. Key Dadaists, such as key Dada figures Arthur Cravan and Marcel Duchamp, and Weimar’s left-wing milieu. In The Threepenny Opera, Brecht projected his cool life attitude onto his most famous character, Macheath. Mackie personifies the bitter-sweet strain of cool. Puritanism and sentimentality are both anathema to the cool character.

Cool is said to have been popularized in jazz circles by tenor saxophonist Lester Young. Notions of cool as an expression of centeredness in a Taoist sense are commonly understood in both African and African-American contexts well. Cool jazz is a laid-back, restrained, laid back solo style of jazz. “Don’t blow your cool” and “chill out” are expressions of inner contentment or restful repose in African American Vernacular English.

When the air in the smoke-filled nightclubs of that era became unbreathable, windows and doors were opened to allow some “cool air” in from the outside to help clear away the suffocating air. The purpose of the cool jazz was always the same: to lower the temperature of the music and bring out different qualities in jazz. By analogy, the slow and smooth jazz style that was typical for that late-night scene came to be called “cool”.

Like Brecht’s, during the turbulent inter-war years. Cool irony and hedonism remained the province of cabaret artistes, ostentatious gangsters and rich socialites, those decadents depicted in Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited and Christopher Isherwood’s Goodbye to Berlin, tracing the outlines of a new cool.


World War Two destroyed or disrupted the lives of millions throughout Europe, America and Asia. For a few however the experience of war had poisoned the very idea of domesticity and respectability. They concluded that ‘society’ itself was to blame, and to be shunned.

The deferred gratification offered by work and family no longer seemed like such a good deal — Disgruntled ex-GIs formed the first outlaw motorcycle gangs in the USA. Beat poets began to shout their passionate and dissident verse in coffee bars. Better to live fast and live now. Lowered future expectations lead to an opting out of civic duties.

Hippies felt repressed by the dominating conservative ideology of the 1940s and ’50s towards conformity and rebelled. In the 1960s, it took a more materialistic direction toward the market place. The ‘Hidden Persuaders’ of Madison Avenue became hip themselves. Hip became central to the way capitalism understood itself and explained itself to the public. Marketeers discovered that the cliquey solidarity implicit in cool made possible new strategies. which still rule the industry today; Nike vs Reebok vs Adidas.

Warhol grasped that he could reduce the star system to commodities. In the 1990s, the concept of “dressing cool” left the minority and went into the mainstream. Cool entered the mainstream because Hippie “rebels” of the late 1960s were now senior executives.


Parts of the left dislikes cool. While the thrust of the project is to shore up the traditional family. Cool stands for precisely the opposite values. It’s intrinsically anti-social, anti-family, pro-drug, anti — caring and most of all anti-authority. Jazz found a special resonance behind the Iron Curtain, where it offered relief from the earnestness of socialist propaganda.

In the Polish industrial city of ŁódŚ, jazz, “the forbidden music”, stimulated the film talents of a generation of artists, including Andrzej Wajda, Roman Polanski. Polish novelist Jerzy Kosinski, in whose clinical prose cool tends towards the sadistic. In Prague, the capital of Bohemia, cool flourished in the faded Art Deco splendor of the Cafe Slavia. Significantly, following the crushing of the Prague Spring by Soviet tanks in 1968, part of the dissident underground called itself the “Jazz Section”.


Humans didn’t invent cool, but rather cool invented humanity. Probably, cool (cool as such, shamanism, magic, religion) preceded the development of differentiated self awareness. Cool oxygenates society by infusing it with a more expansive reality than its preconceptions allow for.

Anti-social types often have power to see environments as they really are. This need to confront environments with a certain antisocial power is manifest in the famous story, “The Emperor’s New Clothes” “Well-adjusted” courtiers, having vested interests, saw the Emperor as beautifully appointed. The “antisocial” brat, unaccustomed to the old environment, clearly saw that the emperor was not wearing anything.

Professionalism is environmental. Amateurism is anti-environmental. Professionalism merges the individual into patterns of total environment. Amateurism seeks the development of the total awareness of the individual and the critical awareness of the ground rules of society. The amateur can afford to lose. The professional tends to classify and to specialize, to accept uncritically the ground rules of the environment.

In other words cool belongs on the same plane as information physics, dreams etc. We are becoming a society without cool in which people are starting to lack the most effective means to envision realities beyond the ideological horizon. Cool is always somewhat disconcerting. It points to a secret order in the universe that the human mind couldn’t fully take in without being transformed or destroyed.

Joyce saw that the wake of human progress can disappear again into the night of sacral or auditory man. Joyce could see no advantage in our remain- ing locked up in each cultural cycle as in a trance or dream. He discovered the means of living simultaneously in all cultural modes while quite conscious.


The term “gross national cool” argues that as Japan’s economic juggernaut took a wrong turn into a 10-year slump, and with military power made impossible by a pacifist constitution, the nation had quietly emerged as a cultural powerhouse: “From pop music to consumer electronics, architecture to fashion, and food to art, Japan has far greater cultural influence now than it did in the 1980s, when it was an economic superpower.

In Japan, synonyms of “cool” could be iki and sui. These are traditional commoners’ aesthetic ideals that developed in Edo. Tokyo is one of the world’s “capitals of cool.” Asian countries have developed a tradition on their own to explore types of modern ‘cool’ or ‘ambiguous’ aesthetics.

There is an explosion in cultural exports, and many argue that the international embrace of Japan’s pop culture, film, food, style and arts is second only to that of the United States. Business leaders and government officials are now referring to Japan’s “gross national cool” as a new engine for economic growth and societal buoyancy.


Cool is a crossing of barriers, and erasing of old categories. Updating a high-level model is a dangerous endeavor. A significant redesign of one’s build structure can risk immediate reform, or confusion, or fear. Sometimes people will either willingly disregard troubling evidence or compel it to adhere to their pre-existing paradigm.

The preliterate confronts the literate in the postliterate arena, as new information patterns uproot old mental breakdowns. Implementing the latest concept would immediately make the universe less stable, even though in the long term it might be a better-predicting model. Fake it until you’ve build up enough references (build up enough neural pathways) that you actually are that person.

Hybridization refers to the fact that media necessarily break boundaries and affect and change one another as they are adopted. These explosive hybridizations occur when a society is moving from one dominant medium to another, as in the transition from orality to literacy. Hybridization can be a good opportunity to break out of somnambulism and understand the effects of media.


Because inherent in the artist’s creative inspiration is the process of subliminally sniffing out environmental change. It’s always been the artist who perceives the alterations in man caused by a new medium, who recognizes that the future is the present, and uses his work to prepare the ground for it.

So one antidote to the numbing effect of a overheating medium is to use another medium that has a counter-effect: Lawrence Durrell’s Alexandria Quartet transformed the Copernican breakthroughs of Einstein and Freud into fiction. By translating events which are ephemeral and local in their initial impact into that which is universal and enduring, we can make news into culture.

Art is one means by which we reimagine existing paradigms to accommodate new discoveries, the thread linking news events to the “longue durée.” Art is also a means of pooling knowledge and it is, like literature, news that STAYS news. It is the means by which we adjust existing paradigms to accommodate new discoveries, the thread connecting the now to the past and to the future.

The artist picks up the message of cultural and technological challenge decades before its transforming impact occurs” and so “the artist is indispensable in the shaping and analysis and understanding of the life of forms, and structures, created by electric technology

“Blake’s counterstrategy for his age was to meet mechanism with organic myth. . . . For myth is the instant vision of a complex process that ordinarily extends over a long period. Myth is contraction or implosion of any process . . .”

Marshall Mcluhan

Sergei Einstein: “As the silent film cried out for sound, so does the sound film cry out for color.” McLuhan takes a parallel form to Einstein: “As the printing press cried out for nationalism, so did the radio cry out for tribalism.” Electric light changes patterns of human organization when it encounters them: cars can begin traveling at night, ball players can begin playing at night, and buildings no longer require windows. The telegraph restructured newspapers, and one of the ways it did so was allowing for “human interest” stories. This took significant interest away from the theater.

George Bernard Shaw responded to this effect of “human interest” stories by putting the press and “human interest” into the theater. Movies took significant interest away from the novel, newspapers, and theater. Radio altered the form of movies when it was added to silent films to created sound films. Radio, gramophone, and tape recorder all affected poetry by re-emphasizing the role of the poet’s actual voice. Television’s cool emphasis on participation resulted in poets desiring a personal connection with their audience, and therefore presenting their poems live in cafés and parks.
Television took significant interest away from movies and nightclubs. It also caused significant changes in radio programming.

Artists are able to “mix their media diet” to affect their work. Yeats’ poetry was affected by oral peasant culture. Eliot’s poetry was affected by jazz and film. Both Eliot’s The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock and Joyce’s Ulysses used “the film theme of Charlie Chaplin.” Chaplin adopted forms of movement from ballet to the film medium. Many Hollywood movies are based on bestselling novels. Agatha Christie adapted a classical oral story to short story form in The Labors of Hercules, about Hercule Poirot. Magazines applied concepts from movies to “the idea article,” they took significant attention from short stories.

Yet these transitions, or hybridizations, can be “a moment of truth and revelation” by providing a release of freedom and energy by snapping us out of the usual sensory numbness and narcosis our media forms induced in us.
The new extensions of man and the environment they generate are the central manifestations of the evolutionary process, and yet we still cannot free ourselves of the delusion that it is how a medium is used that counts, rather than what it does to us and with us.


So what if the future belongs to the cool, inclusive, low definition cartoons, high participation because roughs provide very little data and require us to fill in or complete the images themselves, something that gives the ear relatively little data. By placing all the stress on content and none on the medium were probably setting ourselves up for a surprise when the new thing starts transforming the environment

So what do you get if you mix a cartoon, telephone, ideograms, speech, seminars, discussion, broadcast and comics With less data, high in audience participation, engenders holistic patterns, tribalizes, organic, collapses space and creates vertical associations Hypertext art

Performance: Conceiving of something as a script rather than a txt. The audience cannot receive it until it is performed. A wave is recorded or used in its original form. A signal is taken straight from the source and laid onto the new medium. It is not sampled at some interval, and then turned into numbers. Enhances analog and access to the umwelt: the world as it is experienced by us but not particularly by our identity. Makes obsolete film, broadcast, podcast by non manipulative but staged spectacle, meant to alter belief system, and eventually, influence human society

Retrieves continuous signal for which the time-varying feature (variable) of the signal is a representation of some other time varying quantity, i.e., analogous to another time varying signal

It reverses into claimed reception of information whereby a person perceives information not gained through the recognized physical senses
It needs to be competitively superior and recognized as so to our current version of the computer/smartphone and must thrive under VUCA. Ultimately it has to be an evolutionary stable medium not displaceable by alternatives and must achieve something similar to Clarke third law “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”.

Cool represents a free market in personal relations and sexuality, and like it or not, many people now aspire to that freedom. Maintenance of a healthy democracy requires a difference between the parties of left and right and real confrontations over real issues. The prospect of an apolitical cool generation is alarming. If we persist, however, in our conventional rearview-mirror approach to these cataclysmic developments, all of Western culture will be destroyed. If literate Western man were really interested in preserving the most creative aspects of his civilization, he would plunge himself into the new vortex. By understanding it, dictate his new environment — turn ivory tower into control tower.