The IRONY, Jameson, of your qualification of these artists as un-ironic/anti-irony is that by labeling them The New Sincerity you are actually imposing an
incredible, almost comic irony onto them. Did you realize this? Was it
intentional? I almost can't...believe it could be. And, as an aside, long titles
is an awfully shallow way of categorizing artists.
Can we start please with a basic understanding of sincerity as a way of
being versus honesty as a way of communicating? AD Jameson is confusing honesty with sincerity; he is also forgetting or perhaps does not realize that honesty can be used to manipulate. But the thing about sincerity, true sincerity, is that it cannot by nature be used to manipulate because at that point it would cease to be sincere and would become something else altogether (i.e. lying or manipulation).
In order to determine honesty versus sincerity, it is important to address intentions and goals, outcomes. Intention is never irrelevant. The outcome of actual sincerity, that is, sincerity without intent to manipulate, is a real connection. The goal is connection. The only intention is to connect. To present one's intentions or feelings in such a way as to be completely open, ego stepping to the side, vulnerable. Absolutely nothing about "New Sincerist" writing indicates to me an openness or vulnerability. In fact, I experience quite the opposite. The writing of Tao Lin produces a wall between himself and the world. His "sincerity" about his "feelings" or vulnerabilities is quite literally braketed by quotation marks; it is a false wall designed to look aesthetically like sincerity, vulnerability, openness; however, the outcome is not a real connection. I have never once felt that way during or after reading any of Tao Lin's work. I felt a great deal of things...fascination, disgust, curiosity, skepticism, etc. He uses his supposed honesty or what looks like honesty (but who knows?) to dazzle and seduce us. Because that's what voyeurism is, a dazzling/fascinating/intoxicating experience produced by our deep seated desire to connect in a world that is mostly separated (by our own egos). This voyeurism is the spawn of a world where almost no one is able to connect. Lin's cracking his door open and saying, "Look at what I've got in here, just a glimpse..." And you walk in and it's all laid out for you bare and minimal like a museum of emotions hanging on white walls. You can casually stroll though and look, examine each emotion, but please remember that this has all been artfully curated for your visit. Sincerity does not look like this because genuine emotion does not look like this. We do not curate our selves. Just the act of doing so, the manipulation of our own emotions and experiences into a toned down, pleasing form for others to pick up like an object, the objectification of ourselves, is to lose any sincerity you might have had. The New Sincerists are a joke. Ironic in nomenclature, empty writers filling empty rooms with pretty objects labeled This is a Pipe.
This is not a Pipe.
We do not have to be robots.
It is a choice.
Our art does not have to be the blank performance of a wind-up toy.
It is a choice.
We can do better.
We have done better.
To get even more specific, I want to point out that when Lin or any of his milieu do readings, one of the devices used is this faux nervousness in mannerism and style. I say faux not because it does not perhaps come from a genuine place of actual feeling, but rather because it is taken from that place and used as a device, transformed from feeling into object. The alternative, of course, it to just FEEL it and express it as a result of feeling it. By divorcing the feeling from themselves in this way, they are objectifying their own feelings and building a wall between the viewer and the performer that will inhibit all actual connection. What creates connection is empathy, seeing someone feel something inspires us to feel it too. We cannot feel empathy for an object. Sincerity is the key to this intangible process that occurs between an artist and the audience. Sincerity breeds connection. Without connection, we know there was no sincerity. It was, however, possibly honest. Maybe.
I can show you what sincerity looks like. It is cringe-inducing in its rawness. It is something we of the desensitized generation of jaded fools will roll our eyes at. Anything real or genuine is worthy only of skepticism and muttered sarcastic asides. It's true isn't it, what I am saying? We watch movies where human beings are tortured and revel in the gaudiness of cruelty and gore. I am speaking from experience here. I loved the Old Boy Trilogy, anything Michael Haneke directed, Gaspar Noe, Lars Von Trier. I enjoyed watching people do terrible/secret things to each other. I finally felt something. Terror, horror, disgust. I was so desensitized to reality that I had to escape in order to feel things. I watched movies that felt voyeuristic in order to feel like I was allowed into another person's life. I was so disconnected I sought connection in fantasy, books, movies, music. I saw this in other people too, this addiction and gravitation towards greater heights of sense pleasure whether it be beauty or pain. I could write an entire essay on how the root of this is our country's grand and shameful atrocities against other countries and our bubble of protection that buoys us up with power and wealth. My point is that, this should stop. Must stop. I know it can be overcome. I am slowly becoming sensitized again. There is not an easy way to fix it. It takes time and genuine effort like anything worth anything at all. Our generation hates anything that takes time and effort. We abhor it, wave it away and get fucked up instead. Smoking weed is so much easier than actually doing the work that is required in order to feel again. Isn't it?
It is. I could write an essay about that too. My point is that this is what it
takes: learning how to actually connect. You could get high and FEEL connected for however long the high lasts. You could spend your life doing that. You could. But it's fake. And I don't want to get too philosophical here, but when you wake up from your dream, you won't be left with anything. So you could sleep forever or you could wake up and try to build a better reality by figuring out how to actually connect. The thing about the latter is that it benefits everyone. The more you learn to connect, the more you increase the possibility of connection for others. The former only benefits you, and the benefit is an illusion. It is also an illusion that is shaky at best.
Here are some other articles:
Montevidayo's Johannes "Sincerity - New? Old? Normative?"
HTMLGIANT's AD Jameson "What We Talk About When We Talk About The New Sincerity Part 2"