Commitment ...

Here a piece I wrote for a magazine called 32BNY. The issue is themed around responces to 'Commitment' ...

I’m really late submitting this. I’ve been sitting so long, bathed in the empty white glow of a Microsoft word New Document that my eyes have developed screen burn. The document reads “Commitment...” The cursor is flashing, anticipating a flurry of user input. But this user seems destined to stay put instead, sorting through the jumble of likes and dislikes, of images, of things I’ve done and stuff I’ve seen. “Commitment ...”

Why is it so hard to pin down? I must be committed in some way – my inactivity in front of my iMac is at least some kind of commitment – I mean, I could have gone to bed, or wandered down to the kitchen instead. My presence, however inert, hopefully counts for something. The trouble, it seems, is that commitment is hard these days. It seems so very … final. An act committed in perpetuity, like marriage or murder. It feels at odds with a world hallmarked by the provisional, by shifts, and by fragmentation. Frankly, I can hardly commit myself to a single half hour TV show without changing the channel, or to listen to a three minute song without scrolling my iPod onto something else. To a generation that seems committed to remaining juvenile, commitment to anything else seems perhaps too adult.

To commit to one thing feels makes me feel like I’d missing out on something else. Surrounded by such plenty, it seems so singular and austere.

Perhaps there is also a distrust of the certainty of commitment. The kind of commitment that is voiced by politicians or mouthed by product endorsing celebrities. These absolutist statements sound great but ring hollow. Of course, it’s because we like, want or are nostalgic for the heroism, for the deep felt sincerity, even for the long suffering that commitment might require.

Perhaps the value of good old fashioned commitment has been frittered away, spent propping up a zombie culture. Wholehearted belief becomes, in time, empty gesture.

To spin my hesitation positively, maybe the jumble of associations running through my mind is actually a commitment to plurality. My reluctance a commitment to stuff and more stuff, to strange, personal agglomerations of people, things and places.

With the liberating breeze of doubt in my hair, I’ll raise my standard – however slight it might be. I’ll swear allegiance, however quietly. Released from the dead hand of certainty and flushed with a rush of choice, I’ll be: Committed to down as well as up. To futurism and nostalgia. To the camp and the serious. To theatrics and realism. To logic and absurdity. To the monumental and the ephemeral. To craftsmanship and amateurism.

Most of all: To a great big warm embrace of everything, all at once, all at the same time.

Posted by sam at January 21, 2006 1:40 AM

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