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January 25, 2016

GUEST ROOM | An Artsy New Year’s Resolution

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I haven’t made a real New Year’s resolution in years. Sure, if you asked me in the week leading up to and following December 31 I would have told you some boilerplate goal (Exercise more!). And it’s not that there weren’t a handful of ways I could have improved each year; it’s just that I never took the resolution list to heart. But in 2016, I have a very serious New Year’s resolution. So serious, in fact, that I’m now publicizing it for the Cornell Daily Sun reader base.  The resolution: to write down every book I read, movie I watch and play I see in 2016.

Before I continue, I should say that I am still working out how to record the TV I watch, because listing individual episodes seems excessive but entire seasons feels too broad. And, as of now, this list doesn’t include concerts, as I’m someone who listens to music almost entirely on their iPhone. But I may opt to include all of these — maybe art museums would be worth considering as well. I would recommend others consider this resolution because it is quite easy to achieve. Most resolutions that fail dictate a change in behavior, something my resolution hardly demands. Rather, all this resolution asks is that you monitor your behavior in terms of art consumption. I personally am writing them down in my agenda but I’ve already converted one friend who is now using her phone. The act of writing something down is so low-maintenance — especially given how often people will (unfortunately) text mid-artistic consumption anyway!

In light of how easy this resolution really is, I think the benefits are fairly significant. Perhaps the most worthwhile and direct result of writing down the art one consumes in a year is self-knowledge. To be able to look back at all of the great (and not so great) art I’ve consumed in a year will be valuable information for me moving forward. I imagine I’ll feel both rewarded and constructive as I consume a fair amount of art. Since entering college, I’ve already felt a dip in the amount of books I read for personal enjoyment during the school year.  Even though it has only been a little over two weeks in, the process of making this list makes me determined to change that.

I imagine some people who adopt this resolution will have a similar experience. Perhaps they will realize that they are reading little and only seeing subpar films. And maybe this list will encourage them to try to change that (I recognize that films and books are less financially burdensome and more convenient than theater, but tickets for Cornell student productions are very cheap.) Or maybe they’ll realize that they are averaging over fourteen movies a week, and that they might have a problem.

There is so much powerful art out there and I look forward to being able to look at my list at the end of next year. I think, or at least hope, I’ll be proud of all I’ve seen and read in 2016 and it will help me track what I enjoyed or didn’t. I imagine that the list will make me less passive as writing it down reminds me of what I’ve just consumed. In other words, while this list doesn’t dictate a change in behavior, perhaps it will inspire me to change in 2017. Of course people should cater what they are cataloging according to their interests. I know some people who see every concert they can, others who attend a comedy show almost weekly. It’s a resolution that is achievable, tangible, and hopefully rewarding when December 31 comes along. So far it’s been interesting to see some of the contrasts in what I’ve been consuming — this year in movies has kicked off with The Danish Girl, Creed and It’s Complicated. I am already looking forward to my complete list and seeing what pieces of art will define my 2016.

Emily Kling is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at eak243@cornell.edu. 

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