We’re in an age that’s obsessed with being our most authentic selves.
Now that sentence is a whopper of a cliche. ‘Authenticity’ is a real selling-point; it’s on my resume (Not that I’ve ever actually got a job with my resume). Realtors are the best at it too. There’s an apartment block going up across the road from the op shop, and it promises “authentic living” to potential buyers. But what does that even mean? Aren’t we all authentically alive?
And at Woolies you can now buy an “authentic, ready-made pizza base”. I mean, that seems like a contradiction to me. I suppose though that it is the most authentic mass-produced pizza base I know of. What is an authentic pizza anyway? Is it one made using a special recipe? Or one made by an Italian? Or one made from scratch? There seem to be so many ways in which something can be ‘authentic’. There. More contradiction.
I’m doing a bachelor in ‘Historically Informed’ Performance, in which we attempt to play in ways which take into account how we suppose the pieces was intended to be played. If that makes any sense at all. In the 80s and 90s, when the ‘HIP’ movement was introduced into academia, musicologists debated what made music “truly authentic”. Currently academics seem to be at a consensus that: 1. We only know so much and there is only so much extant information to inform us; 2. No matter how hard we try, we still won’t be playing in the time, or in the place, or in the dress, or in the ‘good taste’ of whichever piece we’re playing – so in those ways (and of course in many more) we will never be ‘authentic’ (the literature since avoids the term completely). But before this consensus there was great dilemma. There were people who gave up their careers as professional musicians, because their music would never be the ‘authentic’ they wanted.
People are most worried that they come across on social media as their ‘true’ selves. I recently deleted fb so this blog is now my only platform around which I can be bothered by my level of authenticness. Which is a bit of a problem when I start thinking about it, because my blog posts are made with my knowledge that my friends and family basically don’t know about them.
Is this blog my most authentic manifestation, then? I feel like it isn’t because the people around me make me, so I am most ‘authentic’ around them. I’ve been writing about it a bit recently actually: we’re not really original or unique (which is completely okay, btw).
It seems to me that ‘authentic’ is the most inauthentic word I know.