This book is smart, entertaining, and insightful at the same time. None of these attributes require the other; All the better they meet here. In his 140-page essay, the author directly addresses the point that: The current longing for authenticity is misleading. It lives from the idea that there is a true inner core, a human core that we can and must recognize. Authenticity is nothing more than a palpable correspondence between observation and expectation.
One would think that the authentic Italian restaurant features a wide variety of pizzas. However, pizza is a Neapolitan invention and virtually unknown in the rest of Italian cuisine. The completely opposite assumption leads us to believe that any Italian who does not bake pizza is not authentic. We often don’t even know what’s real, it’s just our expectations, and often clichés, that determine this.
Because this is so, the desire for authenticity, which was originally intended to free us from social norms, can produce slavery. Anyone who does not meet the expectations of real politicians, celebrities, or ordinary individuals has bad cards. This is why displaying authenticity, “fake authenticity,” has become the norm, explains Eric Schilling. It has not been the only dominant gesture in politics and media since Donald Trump.
Schilling teaches German and Literary Studies at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich. It is therefore not surprising that he cites numerous examples from novels and films. He does so in a fun, non-academic way, and on one occasion he asked JK Rowling if she was able to write her epic “Harry Potter” or “Evie Priest” by Theodore Fontane without having “installed a broom or being Baron Instetten himself”.
In the second (more abstract) chapter of the book, the author attempts to define a term and distinguish between the various variants of claiming authenticity. In addition to the authenticity of the painting, for example, which can be verified against objective criteria, there are three types of self-attribution: loyalty to one’s being, to living experience and sincere speech.
The dark side of longing
Today, for example, the argument that only those with children should express themselves in matters of parenting are permitted to testify to an excessive desire for originality, or that only these actors should portray gay or transgender people in films who They are themselves directed accordingly. For Schilling, being unimpressed and acting specifically is fatal rather than being open to perspectives. It sums up: “The yearning for authenticity prevents plurality, critical distance, and reflexive complexity.”