Who is our authentic self, exactly?

We can tie ourselves in knots [over the cynical idea of society’s corruption and commerce’s alienation], but the fact is, the relationship between the stuff we buy and who we are, and the broader relationship among consumer culture, artistic vision, and the authentic self, is fraught with bad arguments and bad faith, and the usual themes and oppositions (between genuine needs and false wants, or between the shallowness of a branded identity and the depths of the true self) are too crude to be helpful.

That’s from Andrew Potter’s The Authenticity Hoax, which is so far a fascinating rebuttal to the idea that we’re all merely automatons, creations of the media, men in gray flannel suits, mindless conformists, better off going back to nature, incapable of meta thinking, mere cogs in the machine, alienated labor, brainwashed by Disney, or instinctive conservative reactionaries.

My authentic self appears to be the kind of person who doubts that my authentic self exists.

Interviewing Brady Udall today

I’m heading up to Phoenix to interview Brady Udall this afternoon. His new novel, The Lonely Polygamist, concerns the economic and social travails of Golden Richards’ unusually large family, which are complicated by the family’s patriarch taking a job to build a brothel, rivalry and sexual awakening among the teenage children, and jockeying for position among the wives.

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