This book is intelligent, entertaining and practical at the same time. Neither do these qualities need the other; All the better they meet here. In his 140-page essay, the author comes straight to the point that reads: The current craving for the authentic is misleading. It lives from the idea that a true inner essence is an essence of man that we can recognize, even have to recognize. Authenticity is nothing more than a felt correspondence between observation and expectation.
One might think that an authentic Italian restaurant is characterized by a wide range of pizzas. However, pizza is a destiny invention and is almost unknown in the rest of Italian cuisine. The very opposite belief leads us to believe that any Italian who does not eat pizza is inhumane. We often do not even know what is real, only our own expectations, often clichés, determine it.
Because it is so, the urge for authenticity, which was originally meant to free us from social conventions, can create a bond. Whatever does not meet the expectations of authentic politicians, celebrities or private individuals, they have bad cards. This is why staging authenticity, “fake authenticity”, has become the norm, tells Eric Schilling. It has not only been effective in politics and media since Donald Trump.
Schilling teaches German and literary studies at Ludwig Maximiliens University in Munich. It is therefore not surprising that he cites many examples of novels and films. He does this in a pleasant educational way. At one point he asks if JK Rowling was able to write his magical epic “Harry Potter” or Theodore Fontaine’s “Effie Briest” without ever being a “broom” or a “Baron Instetten”.
In the second (most abstract) chapter in the book, the author tries to define a word and differentiate between various forms of authenticity claims. In addition to the authenticity of a painting, for example, which can be checked against the objectionable criterion, there are three types of subjective inscriptions: loyalty to one’s self, lived experience, and true speech.
The dark side of longing
Today, for example, the argument that only those who have children should express themselves on questions of upbringing is allowed to testify to the extreme urge for authenticity, or only those actors in films who are homosexual or transgender people Should depict those who are themselves appropriately oriented. Schilling is fatal in that it is not really being affected and is being represented instead of an open perspective. He sang it: “The longing of authenticity prevents plurality, critical distance, contemplative complexity.”