New Year’s Resolutions as Self-Directed Camp

by Venkat on December 30, 2013

I’ve written a couple of whimsical posts about resolutions in the past, but I can’t bring myself to write about them seriously. Resolutions are not serious. Not anymore. I vaguely recall reading old novels whose characters took them seriously, but in our time, New Year’s resolutions are widely regarded as a joke. Very few expect to actually accomplish them.

I think Susan Sontag’s definition of camp as “failed seriousness” applies to New Year’s resolutions. They are a ritual we repeat as a kind of entertainment we manufacture for ourselves.

But while camp of the normal sort involves laughing at others, resolution-camp involves laughing at ourselves. There is a part of us that secretly hopes we will be able to miraculously figure out how to achieve our resolutions this year. The camp arises out of another part of ourselves laughing at the serious, but naive and wishful, part.

Which is why we actually follow through on resolutions by taking first steps in many cases. The cliched example is signing up for a gym membership, going once in January, and then failing to keep it up.

It’s an expensive way to get your campy entertainment. It’s probably smarter to just indulge in a marathon viewing of the Christopher Reeve Superman movies

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