Can a Trip Ever Be ‘Authentic’? – The New York Times

Our notion of places — which is to say the romances and images we project onto them — are always less current and subtle than the places themselves. […] That disconnect is even more acute because so many travelers have been everywhere (if only on-screen), which in turn means that reality — all that is unmediated and nonvirtual — holds a greater premium than ever.

Can a Trip Ever Be ‘Authentic’? – The New York Times

Hating Bourbon Street – Places: Design Observer

Authenticity is seductive; we embrace it because it makes us feel exclusive. Hating Bourbon Street has valuable social currency, and it’s an easy step toward assuming co-ownership of “real” New Orleans culture. But declaring something to be inauthentic positions the critic in the dubious position of arbitrating reality. […] Worse, inauthenticity rests on the troubling supposition that not all human beings or human endeavors contribute equally to this thing we call culture.

Hating Bourbon Street – Places: Design Observer

Can authenticity be aware of itself as such and still be authentic?

Michael Pollan, talking about the way we talk about food, specifically, the bullshitting/storytelling endemic to Southern barbecue culture (which is part of its charm, right?).

How Code-Switching Explains The World : Code Switch : NPR

You rush your mom or whomever off the phone in some less formal syntax (“Yo, I’mma holler at you later,”), hang up and get back to work. Then you look up and you see your co-workers looking at you and wondering who the hell you’d morphed into for the last few minutes. That right there? That’s what it means to code-switch.

My dad and my sister are experts at (subconsciously) stepping up the Southern accent ever so slightly when the situation calls for it. I’m pretty sure I do it, too, but it’s quite possible everyone sees right through me.

How Code-Switching Explains The World : Code Switch : NPR

The bogus religiosity which now surrounds original works of art, and which is ultimately dependent on market value, has become a substitute for what paintings lost when the camera made them reproducible. Its function is nostalgic. It is the final empty claim for the continuing values of an oligarchic, undemocratic culture. If the image is no longer unique, and exclusive, the art object, the thing, must be made mysteriously so.

John Berger, Ways of Seeing (via jenbee). Okay, two things here. One, it brings me back to The Authenticity Hoax again (I wrote about why you should read it). Andrew Potter:

Can you see what is happening here? It is the return of the aura, of the unique and irreproducible artistic work. Across the artistic spectrum, we are starting to see a turn toward forms of aesthetic experience and production that by their nature can’t be digitized and thrown into the maw of the freeconomy. One aspect of this is the cultivation of deliberate scarcity, which is what Alec Duffy is doing with his listening sessions. Another is the recent hipster trend to treat the city as a playground—involving staged pillow fights in the financial district, silent raves on subways, or games of kick the can that span entire neighborhoods. This fascination with works that are transient, ephemeral, participatory, and site-specific is part of the ongoing rehabilitation of the old idea of the unique, authentic work having an aura that makes it worthy of our profound respect. But in a reversal of Walter Benjamin’s analysis, the gain in deep artistic appreciation is balanced by a loss in egalitarian principle.

And two, made me think of any time someone writes a “Why ___ Matters” essay. See: swan song.

Amy Rebecca Klein: The Last Thing I’ll Ever Write About Lana Del Rey

When the world decided that Lana totally bombed on Saturday Night Life, we could see Lana telling us nothing other than what we already tell ourselves about women in music. We already assume that the feminine is inauthentic. So, I mean, why does everyone care so much if she has had plastic surgery, or if her management company created an image for her? What’s the big deal with being deceived? Some of our most respected musical icons (Bob Dylan, anyone?) used music to continually invent and re-invent possible selves.

See also Nitsuh Abebe:

Making pop music— more than almost any other art— sits right at the intersection between being yourself and finding something better than yourself to be. This, in the end, is what we’re looking for: Someone who can devise some fantastically compelling version of herself to act out, while still seeming as if she’s… being herself. Musicians are expected to write a great part and convincingly act the role at the same time. And even after that, we’re not really judging them on how compelling the identity they’re offering us is— we judge them based on which types of identities we personally need or aspire to at the moment. There is no identity politics quite as nuanced or complicated as people arguing about music.

Amy Rebecca Klein: The Last Thing I’ll Ever Write About Lana Del Rey

The Authenticity Hoax (review)

The Authenticity Hoax
It’s a stretch to call this a review, because I mainly just wanted to purge some quotes that I’ve had lying around that I kept being lazy about sharing because they were a bit too long or needed more context than I wanted to bother with on my tumblr. Anyway. Great book, especially the first five chapters on modernity, business, art, self, etc.

On bullshit, and where to find it:

It is hardly surprising to find that the two areas of human enterprise most concerned with sincerity as opposed to truth—namely, politics and advertising—are also the two areas most steeped in bullshit. Or would it be better to say that politics and advertising are the two areas most concerned with the appearance of authenticity? This might be a distinction without a difference.

Validating the suburbs:

The people who move to the suburbs aren’t nearly as stupid or careless or brainwashed as the urbanites seem to think. They know they’re going to get a lawn, a garage, and a backyard. They know they will be miles from a store or cafe, and that they’ll have to drive everywhere. Most people move to the suburbs with eyes wide open, fully aware of the tradeoffs they are making. They are not looking for some pastoral idyll, but for more privacy, space, quiet, and parking.

On meaning in a modern world:

The search for authenticity is about the search for meaning in a world where all the traditional sources-—religion and successor ideals such as aristocracy, community, and nationalism-—have been dissolved in the acid of science, technology, capitalism, and liberal democracy. We are looking to replace the God concept with something more acceptable in a world that is not just disenchanted, but also socially flattened, cosmopolitan, individualistic, and egalitarian.

A good example of his cantankerous sarcasm. He likes jabbing at liberals:

The exact mechanism of the apocalypse is unknown, but if you troll around the Internet you can find any number of speculative scenarios. Most of them presume that there’ll be a sort of massive ecological collapse and extinction event caused by a combination of global warming, deforestation, peak oil production, overfishing, overpopulation, suburbia, megacities, bird flu, swine flu, consumer electronics, hedge funds, credit default swaps, and fast food.

With regard to recent developments in art (specifically pivoting off of Alec Duffy and his Sufjan Stevens recording):

Can you see what is happening here? It is the return of the aura, of the unique and irreproducible artistic work. Across the artistic spectrum, we are starting to see a turn toward forms of aesthetic experience and production that by their nature can’t be digitized and thrown into the maw of the freeconomy. One aspect of this is the cultivation of deliberate scarcity, which is what Alec Duffy is doing with his listening sessions. Another is the recent hipster trend to treat the city as a playground—involving staged pillow fights in the financial district, silent raves on subways, or games of kick the can that span entire neighborhoods. This fascination with works that are transient, ephemeral, participatory, and site-specific is part of the ongoing rehabilitation of the old idea of the unique, authentic work having an aura that makes it worthy of our profound respect. But in a reversal of Walter Benjamin’s analysis, the gain in deep artistic appreciation is balanced by a loss in egalitarian principle.

On consumption gravitas:

Conspicuous authenticity raises the stakes by turning the search for the authentic into a matter of utmost gravity: not only does it provide me with a meaningful life, but it is also good for society, the environment, even the entire planet. This basic fusion of the two ideals of the privately beneficial and the morally praiseworthy is the bait-and-switch at the heart of the authenticity hoax. This desire for the personal and the public to align explains why so much of what passes for authentic living has a do-gooder spin to it. Yet the essentially status-oriented nature of the activity always reveals itself eventually.

The long sentence is how we begin to free ourselves from the machine-like world of bullet points and the inhumanity of ballot-box yeas or nays.

Pico Iyer. Here’s mills:

Pico Iyer, in a pleasant Los Angeles Times article noted by Schmudde, defending his use of “…longer and longer sentences as a small protest against —and attempt to rescue any readers I might have from— the bombardment of the moment.”

Iyer chooses two sorts of reduced expression as examples: bullet points, which are the prose of the business world; and the “inhuman” ballot-box, where political expression occurs. It is amusing to note that many believe that it is in precisely these spaces —the professional and the political— that their identity resides, that the substance of their life resides. If not there, after all, where?

Reminds me of an Andrew Potter quote I tumbled from The Authenticity Hoax:

It is hardly surprising to find that the two areas of human enterprise most concerned with sincerity as opposed to truth—namely, politics and advertising—are also the two areas most steeped in bullshit. Or would it be better to say that politics and advertising are the two areas most concerned with the appearance of authenticity? This might be a distinction without a difference.

And another thing I think of and repeat often:

If you write like porridge you will think like it, and the other way around.

Interview with Andrew Potter: Travel and the Search for Authenticity – World Hum

I think we need to keep in mind that the backpackers you’re talking about, who go to new areas and beat new paths by living close to the people and close to the earth and so on, they are in a sense—and this isn’t my line, this is from an old book I came across—the shock troops of the mass tourism industry. They’re the ones who go into a place that has no infrastructure for tourism and basically create the market for other people to come in behind them. And that may or may not be a bad thing. But we need to be aware that that’s actually what’s going on.

Interview with Andrew Potter: Travel and the Search for Authenticity – World Hum

It is hardly surprising to find that the two areas of human enterprise most concerned with sincerity as opposed to truth–namely, politics and advertising–are also the two areas most steeped in bullshit. Or would it be better to say that politics and advertising are the two areas most concerned with the appearance of authenticity? This might be a distinction without a difference.

Ben Casnocha: The Blog: Las Vegas: Authentically Unauthentic

When you visit New York City, you worry about whether you are being a tourist, about whether you are doing as the locals do. Same with visiting Paris, Rome, London. But in Las Vegas, everybody is a tourist. Anybody who’s not a tourist works in the tourism/hospitality industry. There is no real thing. It’s fake all the way to the bottom. The very idea of a sprawling, water guzzling city that sits in the middle of barren desert is too absurd to take seriously.

See also Richard Thompson & Communicatrix on cultural neutrality.
Ben Casnocha: The Blog: Las Vegas: Authentically Unauthentic

L.A. is the apocalypse: it’s you and a bunch of parking lots. No one’s going to save you; no one’s looking out for you. It’s the only city I know where that’s the explicit premise of living there – that’s the deal you make when you move to L.A.

The city, ironically, is emotionally authentic.

It says: no one loves you; you’re the least important person in the room; get over it.