Lewis Samuels and the Importance of What Matters
It’s been a long time since I’ve felt the inspiration to write here on Phoresia. The reasons are varied. I’ve been surfing a tonne and preparing for the arrival of our first child. In the meantime, D. Lawless has been steadily holding down the fort. Today however, I wanted to take a moment to ruminateÂ on the state of surf media and the ever increasing surf blogging happening in our culture.
As I’m sure many of you have, I’ve been religiously following the mad writings of Mr. Lewis Samuels on Post Surf. Lewis is undoubtedly a gifted writer. He also appears to be extremely well read in many subjects and topics outside of surfing. He has a wit unmatched by his contemporaries and is able to take in stride anything that comes his way. So why is it that people love to hate him?
Is it because he challenges our vision of ourselves and what we like to consider to be our surf “culture”? Or perhaps it’s because Samuels is unrelenting in his pursuit to shame and degrade his subjects. Whatever the reasons may be, as I’m sure you can come up with a long list, Samuels has managed to capture the surfing public’s attention like no one else and as far as we can see from his site, he profits not.
Why is Samuels important and how has he been able to generate so much traffic? It first must be noted that Samuels has already been a successful surf journalist. However, his blog’s success is due in part to the legions of surf bloggers who for the past four or five years have independently created a new form of surf culture media which exists in parallel to the traditional magazines like Surfer and Surfing. I think it’s also fair to say that the surfing blogosphere is slowly eclipsing the traditional media outlets both in terms of relevance to the surfing audience as well as in popularity.
That’s not to say that the magazines will collapse and be no more, or that surf bloggers are going to become the new mainstream surf media. But certainly the way we access information has changed radically and it is our newfound openness to other outlets that has opened the door for people like Samuels to reach massive audiences without the need for marketing and advertising.
We all owe a bit of gratitude to Samuels for the hours of belly aches and entertainment he’s given us over the last few months. In the end we may owe him more as he continues to challenge the consumer aspects of surfing (and surfers, yes us). His attacks on surf company’s uncanny marketing techniques are a long awaited equalizer in what’s being fed to us. Although I often disagree with Samuels theories on progression and board design (all hail the thruster, eh Samuels), I can see that his rants and ridicules have much more depth than they appear to have and based on the comments they are causing us to think even if only for a fleeting second. More importantly, he challenges our overall cultural values and our relationship to consumerism and this is something that we should all give more thought to as our habitat goes to shit.
Recently Samuels wrote three simple sentences that have stuck with me for a long long time:
“We make all of this more complicated than it is.
The water holds no answers.Â I don’t hold any either.
Sometimes it’s enough to bear witness.”
As for me, I’m gonna try to get back on this blogging train and continue my pursuit in the discovery of the essence of surfing — the elixir that keeps me awake daydreaming about wavy waters. Thanks for reading.