What are the principles of authenticity?

The goal here is to explore what we mean when we say something is ‘authentic’, ask who gets to decide, and how we tell the difference. I’m quite sympathetic to Ribbonfarm’s perspective, but I also wonder if there’s something ‘true’ about deep honesty that people relate to. It’s still always a performance, but what makes a performance seem more authentic than another? What are the principles of authenticity?

Consider Ya Kun Kaya Toast, McDonald’s, The Capitalist’s Zombie, The Origin of Authenticity in the Breakdown of the Illusion of the Real

Irish Pubs [1], Scottish Kilts

  • <is this really important, not really. i’m interested in it out of curiosity but it’s not the most important thing>
  • note to self- look for quora, what makes a good actor good or bad
  • Authenticity is a funny thing, like “the good old days”. It’s a nebulous concept, a moving target. Like obscenity, we can’t quite define it, but we know it when we see it. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_know_it_when_I_see_it )
  • For those of us who care about identity, values, goals, a lot of our lives seem to be about figuring out how to be authentic. (I have recently been introduced to the idea of disregarding the authenticity/identity conundrum altogether. All you need to do is get really good at what you do through intense practice, and questions like “what are your values” and “what is your goal” become almost trivial, annoying.
  • But let’s not even get that grandiose. Let’s talk about “smaller” things, like a theater performance. I saw a play once that was performed by young amateur actors who varied remarkably in the quality of their performance. Some of them were incredibly convincing as their characters, while others seemed to be just speaking their lines and using volume as a cheap substitute for intensity.
  • What is the difference? What makes one actor mediocre and another convincing? What makes one piece of writing boring and another compelling? Are the two related?
  • I’m thinking of Benjamin Zander’s ‘one-buttock playing’, where the musician focuses less on getting from A to B to C and more on the overall journey from A to Z. She loosens up and allows herself to flow. But I think that is just a heuristic, and that there’s something a little deeper that’s going on in such a performance. I’m reminded of Tor Norretranders talking about states.

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