new media

Geoffrey Lewis
19 min readJun 4, 2023

an addition to a collaboration in progress, a document where a friend shared some ideas about a media company, and per usual, I peruse my lattice of works in progress and continue writing whatever I have to say today in a box that seems suited to receive it, whatever the consequences to the supposed work in progress

everything becomes media and i’m tuning out
the young long to see themselves onscreen
have i seen enough? i know everything will be there, online, the bodies and faces clinging to the dates and timestamps, eager to know they are real, hungering to be consumed by others and stroke their upward number of impressions and likes, approval
whereas the spiritual and contemplative life draws me more now, the soliloquy and solstice of the silence broken within me; now, i won’t quickly become a coach of You, of holding space for You, Zoom calls for You to Talk and Discover, we could, you could pay, would you pay? who should have to pay; absurd business; yet, we sell and buy; our worry is anchored in numbers and not-enoughness; or is it about love? is it about not being known? i have ceased depending on others, they have their own thing going on, them against their own need to survive, everyone a script-running rule-following animal: eat sleep and crap, keep the story going, yesterday’s tomorrow has arrived and the future awaits; maybe the insanity is ebbing now, peak … peak something (let’s do a noun-wash: peak trembling, peak anticipation and expectation; arrival at the whirlpool of past and future, THE PRESENT which i’m told is enough, Now is enough, I am enough, You are enough, the crisis is all in my head based on programmed expectations or something, a belief that life would be different from this. Now! What kind of work can I snap into? Marketing? Recruiting? PHONE CALLS TO MAKE! COMMUNICATION! Dance is something: bodies meeting wordlessly, just movement, movement as a cure to all this word-vomit, ELSEWHERE a salvation, oh this bleating sheep-heart I’ve carried to term; is this beautiful enough to screenshot? No; it speaks to no one, represents no one — admirable only in the courage to Lose Yourself Onscreen As Media, As Art, a thing I can’t quit, insanity my wet nurse and shepherd, Maybe this could be a life, being a man who goes insane Just As Practice so he can help You also tend to your insanity and live a material life too, your name in all the right places, the numbers trending the right way ~ maybe I speak to a generation’s difficulty to Be OK in a world where it seems impossible to Be OK; maybe I should make no conclusions yet and instead just Spurt and Create if this is indeed CREATION; it is the opposite of self-conscious, luckily, a break from my usual ego-routine, self-protective, train on the track avoiding punishment, stay greased and going, repeat the arrival times as soothing, the only midlife mom-lullaby left: doing every task in the right order at the right time, Be Good Enough, fulfill the duty of your expected role. I write what life is instead of live it! I am being honest about my inner life! Maybe this is a ticket, a signed letter from a doctor or guardian so I am exempt from the usual rules (oh how I still long for relief and salvation in rescue as opposed to responsibility, grit and acceptance), oh how ripe these materials for the right therapist or editor, if only someone could understand I don’t want a life or a project distinctly; oh distinctions, oh don’t make me explain! I am escaping this horrendous plane of awareness, naming and fact, flesh and bone, clock and word; I fly, finally the poet I said I was, happily forsaking “my life” for the flight into the sun to burn and commingle among the subterranean river of emotion we all share, come from and will return to: the only place to go is other people’s stories, imaginal empathy, understanding, support; using what’s around (resources), learning to temper my own hunger and see it instead as a metaphor and allegory for others’ insatiable wanting, craving for relief and release from adult American life, chores and worries and impressions to make on gatekeepers who will choose to grant or withhold Goodies, Prizes, yeses and nos, and so we go on not committed to any one outcome, open to being blown off course, losing everything that can be lost, waking up heavy and with no motivation to construct a future, bereft of language or vision or a sense of who one is ~ but being and feeling remain, as does the body, and more time. I wonder how to encourage young people to grow up and take the mantle of adulthood and country, pride and endurance; is this place worth continuing? We forget all this and call a friend, hunger returns and the image of a sandwich, another attendance due at an event that’s not your own, receding into the crowd, the expected role ~ if I am an artist, I long to buck against expectation, to invent, to not be what I thought I would be, to continually betray my imagination, to let reality overtake the mind’s locus of control (this is just breathing now, ceasing to continue a line of inquiry, being uneditable, a lump of concrete no one else could create; is this daring? Am I on the high wire, splaying myself out as the Soul I am, not the man? The voice and not the one presenting a voice? Ah, some expert, please tell me who the two selves animating this ridiculous performance and discovery are! I want someone else to watch and to know! But no one will ~ only God, that made-up thing, would see me through from insanity to core. Longing for God is not new to the melancholy contemplative I have become, a man of inner conflict who nurses the word-war and collision in the mind, wishing to show you this melting star. This is fine starter material if anyone is interested in collaging ingredients into Something Else; art is a fine pastime; was Kurt Vonnegut right when he said we were on earth to fart around? Are we just wandering apes? Where’d my urgency go? To build civilizations, to make the country worth being proud of, to yank and push the numbers to go up … the longer I go, the more bewildered I am at other people’s normal, laptops logged in, typing ~ why are we typing, what for; Jean Beaudrillard said people are contemplating the operation of their own brains on their word-processor screens en masse ~ the masses of people LOGGED IN HARD, LOOKING HARD, scouring for a next step, a profitable move to make you-related numbers go up; oh the horrendous herd of strivers I wish I could belong to in good faith! If only my selfish voice would return.

(GPL 6/4/23)

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new effort becomes new media
new striving out of a hole becomes a new example
the desperation of the performer to relate
to go from one broken heart to another
traversed in words through time

(GPL 2/12/23)

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“But her thoughts are often of the past. That evanescent, pervasive, slippery internal landscape known to no one else, that vast accretion of data on which you depend — without it you would not be yourself. Impossible to share and no one else could view it anyway. The past is our ultimate privacy; we pile it up, year by year, decade by decade, it stows itself away, with its perverse random recall system.”
— Penelope Lively, How It All Began

clinging = death

ownership = death
accept death
responsibility

(GPL 12/3/22)

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for excellence in the arts

Nike is simply celebrating excellence in athletes and athletics

who is worthy of doing it for media? “Thinking online”? Editing and organizing are a pain in the ass; there’s probably no solution but becoming somebody who (through folly, and making lots of things that aren’t good) gets it right the first time, because editing doesn’t work; maybe same goes for photography and post-processing; may as well get it right the first time

“Ulman’s first performance, “Excellences & Perfections” (2014), was a wizardly gag on feminine consumerism and selfhood. For four months, she played various young-girl archetypes on her Instagram, convincing many followers, including myself, that she’d quit trying to be “a serious artist” and gone the ready-made route. That is, to use one’s young, thin, white-passing femme form to rapidly access precarious power, money, and attention via designer clothes, makeup, plastic surgery, bad boy flames, sugar daddies, yoga, and the wellness industry. In the end, Ulman announced the performance, like gender, as make-believe, and soon after, erected a solo sculpture show in Manhattan of war and rehabilitative vehicles, beautifully considered objects she’d been crafting while the Internet was obsessing over her boobs.”

(GPL 10/9/22)

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this is about being a media renegade
what are you gonna do with being human
given the state of the board today?
what do you have to offer your era? your broken heart? your hunger?
this is a sermon but could be music

have i found my form? have you? what then? admit my bank account? show my hand, my weakness, admit what i am holding back, become a fountain of vomiting shame? probably; Björk said she’s a fountain of blood in the shape of a girl, and the image turns me on

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aha yes — logged on to the Fire at Night (inverted colors on Mac; in big trouble in life, at a friend’s house in Berkeley, homeless essentially — so: i logged onto the modern fire, to imagine and envision the circle of elder and friends [singing long to music; not unlike dirty dudes pushing carts around town; I am not better but I want to avoid their fate

(GPL 9/28/22)

You’re still here. Means the world…. ( — JS 9/28/22

J.S. was Bach too

some hear their inner voices clearly and become legend (Jim Harrison who like us and Henry Miller likes love and death and despises irony; it got us here but won’t get us there

Neither a lofty degree of intelligence nor imagination nor both together go to the making of genius. Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius.
- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

turn it on and you’ll know

“The other day I was listening to Mahler in my library. When I caught sight of the computer on the table, it looked small.”

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“An opera begins long before the curtain goes up and ends long after it has come down. It starts in my imagination, it becomes my life, and it stays part of my life long after I’ve left the opera house.”
— Maria Callas

so you have to BE IT
it has to be IN YOU
and you live with it all day, nurture your talent like a child, like a startup, it’s your 5–9

and a 5–9 costs everything, demands everything

9–5 is for people who don’t want to go there

and the 5–9s need the 9–5s

it’s a fair trade — i think capitalism is fair, funny enough

it weeds out those who don’t believe in themselves, and they rank and file behind those who do; it’s fine

you can always change your mind; social mobility has always been hard, and gets harder (only because people believe in age, and believe they’re too old to start or end habits ~ goes back to Bruce Springsteen:

“All I do know is as we age, the weight of our unsorted baggage becomes heavier, much heavier. With each passing year, the price of our refusal to do that sorting rises higher and higher. Maybe I’d cut myself loose one too many times, depended on my unfailing magic act once too often, drifted that little bit too far from the smoke and mirrors holding me together. Or, I just got old, old enough to know better. Whatever the reason, I found myself once again stranded in the middle of nowhere, but this time the euphoria and delusions that kept me oiled and running had ground to a halt. Long ago, the defenses I built to withstand the stress of my childhood, to save what I had of myself, outlived their usefulness, and I’ve become an abuser of their once lifesaving powers. I relied on them to wrongly isolate myself, seal my alienation, cut me off from life, control others and contain my emotions to a damaging degree. Now the bill collector is knocking and his payment will be in tears. In all psychological wars, it’s never over. There’s just this day, this time and hesitant belief in your own ability to change.”
— Bruce Springsteen, Born To Run

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When you start working, everybody is in your studio — the past, your friends, enemies, the art world, and above all, your own ideas. But as you continue painting, they start leaving, one by one, and you are left completely alone. Then, if you’re lucky, even you leave. — John Cage

so arriving at nothingness is the goal: silence, home

“our soul would much rather fail at its own life than succeed at someone else’s”

“we want to be seen so desperately and we want no one to see us just as much”

“we want the answers, but we don’t want to be with the questions”

Build us a bridge to where you are.
— Lin-Manuel Miranda

the hard part is admitting you want to be found; you have to be your audience, your discoverer; you have to understand yourself and forgive yourself, and see yourself as an other, like others will; you have to be those others first ~ being was always the new thing;

the hard part is the harsh Sophoclean light — — being seen for what you are, accepting not being what you are not yet; this is mental health: the tension between where you are and where you are going; no one is yet who they should be; human beings are human becomings…so the important thing is to be able to keep doing it;

“…our primary job as artists is to make sure we can continue creating our art.”
— Jeff Goins, Real Artists Don’t Starve: Timeless Strategies For Thriving In The Creative Age (2017)

‘A work is never completed except by some accident such as weariness, satisfaction, the need to deliver, or death; for, in relation to who or what is making it, it can only be one stage in a series of inner transformations.’
— Paul Valéry

I would say: commit to your inner transformations and doing them out loud; the people you relate to who feel it won’t forget it, and they will help — this is what artists do (and God, it took a long time and a lot of screaming and kicking to get here, to believe it, to risk everything, and daily it requires ever more belief and risk and beating shame and battling voices to overcome and victory — and form and sense humiliates you again; you can’t get the real thing down on paper no matter how well you know it, and everybody says they know stuff all day — a hellscape of information and people

Consuming media is as much about managing feeling as accessing information

“Emotional Rescue” by @mactra

what you really want is to not have to go all in; to get the benefits of going all the way, but being safe from being hurt, seen, known, rejected, loved or heartbroken, or disappointed, or failing in front of people you’re trying to control your image for, not betting on who you are, not being alone in that belief — not wanting to believe alone, and not wanting to be alone if you have to suffer, and of course your only suffering is going to be a temporary frustration — so much is done out of fear of frustration, fear of waiting, fear of having to fear and to wonder if we won’t get help in time

“The trouble with letting people see you at your worst isn’t that they’ll remember; it’s that you’ll remember.”
— Sarah Manguso

you are afraid of having to be you

Reboot Podcast Episode #90 — The Fear of Being You

“To love ourselves and support each other in the process of becoming real is perhaps the greatest single act of daring greatly.”
― Brené Brown

Giving yourself permission to do the scary creative work is so much harder than it ought to be. We are raised and trained in school that we need an authority figure to tell us we have the talent or brains. But that’s not true. Show up and do the thing. Permit yourself the dream.
— Brian Koppelman in a since-deleted tweet

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the web is a lot of people who are hungry to be saved, so it’s worth going down to the human nature level and understanding what it is people want: security, regularity, to be known, to know others, — a boulevard of trees, didn’t you say this one? A quote you shared I think, about what a man needs in a city: a cup of coffee in a downtown area with trees ~ so architecture; we go back to Leonardo da Vinci and putting a golden cross on top of a church using cranes, because art honored God and we gathered to honor God, because the hard work has been done, the crown is bought and paid for

“There is one other thing to know … when you have expressed yourself to the fullest, then and only then will it dawn upon you that everything has already been expressed, not in words alone but in deed, and that all you need really do is say Amen!”
― Henry Miller, Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch

men hate this because it isn’t hard enough; they don’t believe they’re enough — they don’t want someone else’s solution, they don’t want to be loved, they want to do it themselves, hence the running around and burning out and dissatisfaction and alcoholism and depression and being tired but righteous

Terry Crews’s interview with Tim Ferriss on Tim’s podcast is good, just listened last night, humility and wisdom (and I was impressed with how well-read Terry is, while also admitting to a past riddled with addictions to both violence and pornography, lying, rage…being distracted by his phone and social media while on set on a job…so good

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“The media can’t cope with numerous genres. It’s all about winners. But in the internet era there are tons of winners. And the more different you are from the hitmakers, the greater the chances that you’ll succeed.

But it’s a slower process than before.

And you have to do most of the work yourself.

But your fanbase will support you through thick and thin. And no one is as rabid as a fan in spreading the word, they’ll drag friends to a gig, which is why you’ve got to be great every night even if there are only ten people in the audience, because one person today has more power than any newspaper if they believe.”

(GPL 9/20/22)

new media? It’s about new men. This was the Dada movement, meaning “Yes! Yes!” Just keep saying yes to life — another thing Terry Crews mentioned was how he loves Viktor Frankl’s writing, and endurance ~ how he watched everyone get killed, and yet he came out of that camp saying yes to life. Endurance is bliss ~ the Greeks said it

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new media is “new” and “me” and “dia” (day) ~ the new media is just being a good man: doing it for children, women, the music, the town — everyone but you; let their glory be yours; be (for) them, since after all, you are from them, born of a woman, named by your father; you are not you

“Worry is a way to pretend that you have knowledge or control over what you don’t — and it surprises me, even in myself, how much we prefer ugly scenarios to the pure unknown.”
― Rebecca Solnit, A Field Guide to Getting Lost

“Listen: you are not yourself, you are crowds of others, you are as leaky a vessel as was ever made, you have spent vast amounts of your life as someone else, as people who died long ago, as people who never lived, as strangers you never met. The usual I we are given has all the tidy containment of the kind of character the realist novel specializes in and none of the porousness of our every waking moment, the loose threads, the strange dreams, the forgettings and misrememberings, the portions of a life lived through others’ stories, the incoherence and inconsistency, the pantheon of dei ex machina and the companionability of ghosts. There are other ways of telling.”
― Rebecca Solnit, The Faraway Nearby

we are just a(nother) place where fear and love mix
we aren’t unique
just guys, dudes
like the Beatles were just four guys
like Les Claypool is just a guy who has a van and kids and loved music every day and merged with it ~ merge; that’s the call — don’t hang back on Twitter watching and waiting for the other guys in suits to go

“Find the thing in you that is different, that’s as sharp as a diamond and jagged as a razor. Hone that, because that’s the thing with which you’ll cut the world. If you try to stay a safe and soft and average, then you’re going to get lost in the sea of all those other things that look just like you. Find the things about yourself that are weird and cultivate them because, eventually, those are the things the world is going to want to reward you for and that will bring you the most happiness. When you’re young, those are the things that cause you so much pain, but it’s that pain that makes you unique. Own your scars.”

be you
it just takes all day
for the fog to lift
but your 8am to noon before the music starts and the show and space becomes about other people is worth preserving

midnight in the daytime

“When evening comes, I return home and go into my study. On the threshold I strip off my muddy, sweaty, workday clothes, and put on the robes of court and palace, and in this graver dress I enter the antique courts of the ancients and am welcomed by them, and there I taste the food that alone is mine, and for which I was born. And there I make bold to speak to them and ask the motives of their actions, and they, in their humanity, reply to me. And for the space of four hours I forget the world, remember no vexation, fear poverty no more, tremble no more at death: I pass indeed into their world.”
— Niccolò Machiavelli

it is gods who can live beyond time

the only new media is being; media follows what you are — live it and it will become an image worth following, by those who dare not live

(GPL 9/16/22)

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only the individual transcends

— Naval quoting somebody, Maxwell maybe lol clang clang Maxwell’s silver hammer came down upon her head (made of lyrics, song Tourette’s — surely my mental illness shall become product and a marketing channel; ah, everything in terms of business [it is good to summon the sound of your voice through my writing; it’s like real life is just a way to furnish the imagination ~ the next hellish step in my career is what happens when everyone wants to have a conversation with me, when I’m so exciting? What then of my solitude and distance which makes it all possible? Two hells? Two heavens? Offense and defense? It’s clamor everywhere, no clam soup for you — you remember too much and can’t put it down, can’t rid yourself of memory and the voice talking to itself, by myself but also with and for you, and you have the voice too; is awareness a disease? Is vision?

who owns your essence? who owns the place where you’re bringing it out of yourself in a fever to survive?

(GPL 8/30/22)

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“…I think, in its essence, culture is just us telling stories to each other we all remember from being god.”

(7/18/22)

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“People just want to feel full. Hunger, though, is eternal. On this score, what advantage do the wise have over fools? What advantage comes from knowing how to get ahead? It’s better to learn how to be content with what’s right in front of your eyes than to perpetually stoke your cravings with plans and fantasies.”
— Adam S. Miller, Nothing New Under the Sun: A Blunt Paraphrase of Ecclesiastes

new media is no media at all

(7/17/22)

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every morning i water my google docs

no one owns me

i am in others’ audience but they don’t own it

zoom in on an audience — it’s individuals

you must love in such a way that the person feels free

this urge to own and to defend yourself against irrelevance and poverty…study it, listen to it, paint that hole — own your own insecurity; that’s more powerful than “an audience” because like Bezos you must think about what doesn’t change: what we respond to in an artist’s work: their struggle against limitations; their feral trying to get out of being alone and helpless, helplessly aware of the world and their truth, their aging body, what they know and what they don’t; that terrible endless road to selling more, guaranteeing more, climbing more…until you let go and let it all happen and realize you don’t need the audience but of course they’re lucky to see you go through the swimming motions of staying afloat

“Poetry is, above all, a singing art of natural and magical connection because, though it is born out of one’s person’s solitude, it has the ability to reach out and touch in a humane and warmly illuminating way the solitude, even the loneliness, of others. […] It is a bridge between separated souls.”

— Brendan Kennelly, quoted by Garrison Keillor for The Writer’s Almanac (17 April 2009)

I add this mostly to say that there is no solution to being here, there is only being here, and we remain safe and going despite our failures to engineer and design the apparent world on the screen; we are saved by accident, by happenstance, by momentum; we couldn’t afford last night, yet it happened, and we had the money, somehow

(7/16/22)

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i add to the top and keep three spaces between old and new; glad to meet you here on the hardwood (7/11/22)

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