Sunday, December 18, 2005

unutterably authentic

AKMA and Jeneane and Ray and Juke and more on Authenticity. (More links to be added later.)

In the realm of meanings for "authenticity" - various usages, which seem not to be talking about the same thing, unless they happen to be:
  1. authenticity of artefact. This usually involves a judgment about material cause: This item, thing, rudder, box of soap - no, that's probably wrong - painting - was caused by that cause - usually we invoke a hand or eye, or something going on (and there's the rub) between the hand and the eye, of some imagined craftsperson or artist.
  2. authenticity of performance. The Fishko example - the notion that the act acted is "true" to the act conceived by some actor who acted the act, whether onstage, or off, in Joycean fingernail-filing mode, or, in scripted arts, a doubling of authentical relations, where a performer, etc. produces a performance which enacts a conception/interpretation of another's conception of the act (Gould->Bach).
  3. authenticity of utterance. The matter of "keeping it real," which overlaps with ethical considerations of honesty, sincerity, integrity, hypocrisy, deceitfulness, anomie, etc., which are ethical judgments about the intentionality and spiritual state of the utterer. The utterance "has the stamp of" something. Consider AKMA's use of the term "impression."
Aren't these all Aristotelic tropes involving some relation between an inside/outside, cause/effect, aim/end?

It's fairly clear that considerations entering into a judgment about authenticity of utterance have not anything essential to do with judgments of material cause. Usually, unless conditions of falsified reproduction enter into it, we take for granted that an utterer is the cause of the utterance. To mix artefactual authenticality with the pathos of Heideggerian issues could be a category mistake.

But can we safely say an utterance is solely caused by the utterer? Surely an utterance involves not merely the mouth (larynx etc.) shaping the sounds, but matters of language, grammar, syntax, rhetoric, cognition, emotion, information, memory, muse, context, etc.

In all triviality, we may aim to say something, but what's in the scope exceeds our grasp. It involves an understanding more like the way a word is on the "tip of the tongue." We know it, but we don't. We can't produce it, we can only produce an utterance that states that it is there, beyond the reach of the utterance.

Or we possess an insight or understanding, say, that refuses to fit into the language models or available forms (to us). We struggle to articulate - and the utterance succeeds or fails as a result of the outcome. But we sense, often, a remainder, something left out. If we acutely sense that something is missing, has the utterance succeeded or failed, and does that make it less or more authentic?

What all of this has to do with felicity and luck and skill and polish and adroitness? And for that matter, with the seemliness of what we, our maturing generation, imagine to be an utterer of substance -- for Boomers, this is a spokesman for fine California wines.


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