by Fraser Hibbitt for the Carl Kruse Blog
I have nothing against contemplating and making changes to your life when quietude and time afford it, but as any contemplater knows, the time you pick isn’t always the right time. Someone thinks on one day: “oh, nothing new” and then on another, seemingly out of nowhere: “that’s interesting, perhaps I could to do something about that”. Now it makes sense that someone might be feeling sentimental at the end of the year; you rest, gather a sense of how your life is going, and think to push onto better things. New Year’s resolutions ought really to be the contemplation of previous resolutions because that is probably a better gauge of what you’re after; or, perhaps the whole thing is pointless because obvious: get in shape, stop drinking and eating etc. Most of us are ignorant fools, and when we like and do something, have no idea why other than it feels right, and that is a good thing; liking something, doing something for no reason at all, is good. Why tar the glory of the New Year celebration with resolutions? The time for problems is all the time and we have become aware and very smart at giving advice, calling things by their proper names, and pointing in the right direction for the ones who ask for help. You’re not only aware now, but you’re likely always aware of your shortcomings and the more serious strains that are oppressing you. Many of us only have one long ritual a year – why bother the “new me” with methods to disperse problems in the new year; for the resolutionists, so strong is the effect of hope coming out after the last explosion in the sky.
Why extend the festive period into the new year this way? Is it because the Christmas period is one of the last rituals that atheists and secularites enjoy, despite Theocide? If there were a more collective effort into creating a ritualistic year then all these sudden realisations of life and change would become less sensational if more profound, but the opposite seems to be the general trend. A ritual is about renewal, often a renewal of time, and not just any time, but a very specific kind of time that tempts one to think that we are a part of this specific time. It’s unclear what it means now but anyone familiar with ritual as practiced by our ancestors will know that the ritual, in most cases, re-creates and reminds the participants and observers of a time of great tension, or of a golden age; the time which we spiritually descended from. It is essentially a conservative practice to remind people why things are the way they are, in case they forgot, or are bitter about it. For many of us, we have no golden age anymore because we proudly took that grail to bless ourselves; we have dreams of the present, of Life, that obscure thing is our greatest tension, and the New Year’s should be an ode to that living moment – leave off resolving your supposed future self.
The New Year’s celebration certainly takes part in this component of ritual, renewal of time, but there is a focus on change. We obliterate the previous year in the sky and make a list of what can be done better; we have a clean slate to try again. The thing we are reminded of so forcefully is that we could be in control of our lives. The resolution is a promise to preserve and cultivate this gift. So why does it feel like cheap nonsense? With hope and hope, it becomes a half-remembered thing a couple of months into the new year when the wheel has already begun to spin to a new phase of life and there are more pressing matters. I don’t doubt that some people have said “this day-dreaming life of mine, this little life I’m living and humiliating, ends now” and begin the actual practicalities of that spiritual statement, and now are not entirely day-dreaming, but wake by stops and starts; others have gotten into shape; others have gotten out of shape, gone down-hill. And others have made money off both of them, also a resolution, perhaps. You only have to be somewhere with friends and family to get hooked and flung into the feeling of resolution and change; the feeling of wanting to be better than you are, or wanting to extend that pleasant freedom of content completeness, is mostly drawn from that experience alone.
The Carl Kruse Blog home page is at https://www.carlkruse.com
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Other articles by Fraser include Matters of the Occult and English As She is Spoke.
Another Carl Kruse Blog. Carl Kruse Bio here.