This was an interesting post from a couple of weeks ago at the Secret Lives of Men with Dr. Chris Blazina. Andrew Potter is author of The Authenticity Hoax: Why the "Real" Things We Seek Don't Make Us Happy. You can read an excerpt from MacLean's at this link, with a taste below the podcast.
According to Potter (coauthor of Nation of Rebels), the cost of modernity's dismantling of traditional frameworks of truth and meaning has forced meaning and authenticity to become individual searches that are private and consumercentric. Potter's lively cultural analysis combines an astute analysis of foundational antimodernist thought (in particular Rousseau) with savvy surveys of mass culture to flag the pitfalls and ironies of the modern obsession with authenticity in its every incarnation (authentically punk, spiritual, environmentally conscious) from our jeans to our celebrities. Potter champions a mitigation of modernity's negative, alienating effects rather than a rejection of modernity, and his characterizations of antimodernists can be dismissive to the point of oversimplifying a large and varied spectrum of dissent from the status quo. But in redeeming modernity from primitivists, apocalyptic doom-mongers, and more subtle critics, the author offers a shrewd and lively discussion peppered with pop culture references and a stimulating reappraisal of the romantic strain in modern life.
An excerpt . . . .
Read the whole excerpt.
Andrew Potter: How did authenticity become the hot new status symbol?
In the summer of 2008, a 28-year-old French engineer named Florent Lemaçon, his wife, Chloé, and their three-year-old son, Colin, embarked on what looked to be the trip of a lifetime. After quitting their jobs, the Lemaçons set sail from France in a boat into which they had poured their life savings, a restored yacht named the Tanit. Their destination was Zanzibar, an archipelago off the coast of Tanzania, and to help them sail around the clock, the Lemaçons had picked up another couple. As the Tanit left Egypt and headed down into the Indian Ocean, they spoke to a French frigate that strongly advised them to turn back from a journey that would take them into some of the most lawless, pirate-infested waters in the world.The undaunted adventurers continued on their way, and over the weekend of April 4, 2009, they were seized by Somali pirates intent on taking their ﬁve hostages back to the mainland, where they would be harder to ﬁnd and, hence, easier to ransom. After negotiations with the pirates broke down, French commandos launched a rescue operation during which four of the Tanit crew were rescued. Mr. Lemaçon was killed during the ensuing gunﬁght, perhaps by friendly ﬁre as he tried to duck down into the yacht’s cabin.On a blog the couple kept of their trip, the Lemaçons wrote: “The danger is there and has indeed become greater over the past months, but the ocean is vast . . . the pirates must not be allowed to destroy our dream.” And their dream, as they told everyone who would listen, was to protect their son, Colin, from the depraved elements of the modern world, especially the sterile government and its ofﬁcious bureaucracy, the shallowness of the mass media, and the meaninglessness of consumer society and its destructive environmental impact. “We don’t want our child to receive the sort of education that the government is concocting for us,” Florent told a French newspaper. “We have got rid of the television and everything that seemed superfluous to concentrate on what is essential.”