Great Art Requires Commitment
Art is like a relationship.
Intimacy requires attention. If you swipe through dating apps or only indulge in surface conversations and one-night stands, you will never know the depth that comes from marrying a person or raising a child with them. There are experiences that can only come from giving another person your full attention, that no amount of casual connections could ever provide.
Great art is like a relationship. If you skim through short-form videos or watch a movie on your phone while doing other tasks, you will not have the profound artistic experience that comes from giving a great film your full attention. Art requires commitment. If you give a great work your singular attention, it will reward you in a way that no amount of short-form videos could ever provide.
We have an attention economy. There is more media in the world than one could ever watch, just like there are more people in the world than one could ever know. While many meet people with the intention of finding the one they wanted to give their full attention, for others, swiping becomes an end in itself. Many choose to stay at the level of surface connections and live a lifestyle of endless short-form relationships.
The same behavior endless-swiping behavior found on dating apps has spread to all forms of digital connection. People do not give their attention to each other, but to platforms that provide an endless stream of content to swipe on. They don’t follow bands, they listen to algorithm-curated playlists. They don’t follow filmmakers, they subscribe to streaming services. They don’t follow writers, they read what they see on their timeline.
It’s hard to say what came first, the attention spans or the content. Do companies make sugary snacks, because people like processed sugar, or do people eat processed sugar because so much is advertised to them? It’s a vicious cycle, where more is made because people demand it, and people demand it because there is so much.
Short-form content is in a similar vicious cycle. What used to just be a video of a person speaking is now a video of a person speaking with large colorful subtitles appearing word-by-word as music plays and a video of a video game runs on the lower half of the screen. There is so much competition for attention that capturing it is a constant arms race. The calories are empty, but there are more of them to make up for it.
I like content where I get to have a relationship with you. With substack and podcasting, you subscribe to me, not the platform. When you like something I create, we can continue the relationship. An algorithm can’t end our connection. If you’re subscribed, we’re connected. You are subscribed, aren’t you?
I understand the need for short-form content. With so many options, you can’t commit to everyone. Most need some signals of the value before they’ll open a book. We do judge people by their cover. But how is that working out for you? What does your relationship history look like? And when was the last time you read a full book?
Everyone has to market themselves. Some people know how to present themselves on dating apps as worthy of deeper commitment. Some artists know how to market their art in trailers and short-form content as worthy of a purchase. Yet there are a lot of good artists and people who remain single and unknown. Those who can do both are the exception, not the rule.
If you’ve been reading my writing, you know what I’m about. You know the value I have to offer. You’re either into it or not. We can keep doing this short-form dance forever, or you can open the book. There are insights I have that you will never get unless you commit to reading deeper. I can’t communicate them in short-form content any more than you could get the experience of raising a child with someone from a coffee date. It’s time to
fuck marry buy a book.
P.S. While marrying multiple people at the same time is a challenge few can accomplish, you can read as many books as you want. I’m not asking for exclusivity. In fact, I’ll recommend others to you. But you do need to get one and read it cover to cover. Yes, not just buy, but finish. The amount of attention you give it will determine what you get out. The deepest experiences require the fullest connection. The last chapter is the best. Get one here.