I really liked Barker and Taylor’s Faking It: The Quest for Authenticity in Popular Music. The thesis of the book (which I happen to be very sympathetic to) is that the modern obsession with “keeping it real” has hurt both the creative work and careers of musicians, and has kept music fans from enjoying perfectly good music:
Is it possible to put authenticity to one side for a while? To refuse to accept that “authentic” is always morally better than “inauthentic”? If you get up, turn on the radio, and listen to some music you haven’t liked before because it struck you as “fake,” how do you feel now? Liberated? Bored? Scared? Maybe even entertained? Is it possible to just listen and react to it without worrying about why you do so? And if you are enjoying music that you would normally regard as fake, do you feel ashamed?
When we’re young, a large part of our original motivation in discovering music comes from trying to find out about our identity—perhaps to fit in, or, in contrast, to differentiate ourselves from the rest. The musical morality we adopt at an early age often becomes enshrined, making it hard to change our views later on. From this comes the notion of “guilty pleasures”—any music that we regard as inauthentic but still enjoy becomes a shameful secret, rather than something we can honestly admit to liking.1
The book runs just a little long and the book gets just a tad preachy at the end, but its mostly very thought-provoking: I especially liked the chapters on Kurt Cobain, Elvis Presley, and Neil Young. (The authors kept a blog a few years ago when the book came out that’s fun to browse through.)
Lionel Trilling’s Sincerity and Authenticity on the other hand…well, I really liked this Oscar Wilde quote in it:
Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.
Filed under: authenticity
(Source: instagr.am, via austinkleon)