Friday, April 16, 2010

New This Week: The Authenticity Hoax: How We Get Lost Finding Ourselves by Andrew Potter

No matter what you make of Andrew Potter’s path to bring us back to reality, it’s an interesting journey. A philosophical one, in many ways. On a par with the paths of thought taken by the (thus far) better known Alain de Botton, who is, after all, one of our best known contemporary philosophers. Though he holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Toronto, that isn’t what Potter calls himself, but that does not change facts. Read his work and you’ll see: this is an artful, gymnastic mind and he takes on some of our biggest contemporary foibles in a book that manages to be both sweeping and intricate at the same time. From the introduction to The Authenticity Hoax (Harper/McClelland & Stewart):
The quasi-biblical jargon of authenticity, with its language of separation and distance, of lost unity, wholeness, and harmony, is so much a part of our moral shorthand that we don't always notice that we've slipped into what is essentially a religious way of thinking....the search for the authentic is positioned as the most pressing quest of our age.... My central claim in this book is that authenticity is none of these things. Instead, I argue that the whole authenticity project that has occupied us moderns for the past two hundred and fifty years os a hoax. It has never delivered on its promise and it never will.
The author argues that the quest for authenticity in our lives is nothing more than yet another form of status seeking: ecotourism, performance art, the cults of Oprah and Obama and more.

Potter weaves elements of history, philosophy and pop culture together in a book that will leave an impression even if it doesn’t necessarily show us the path. Is Andrew Potter one of the great thinkers of our age? He may well be: this is great stuff.

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home