What makes art authentic?

Authenticity is a value that people use in the folk discourse of evaluating music; tacitly imbued. People often talk of selling out, which presupposes a value of integrity that an artist has. Let me consider the case of music.


I recall a story that when Richey Edwards of the Manic Street Preachers, was questioned about his ethic and ideology of the band, he responded by gettting a razor blade and carving on his arm 4real. There are many ways to make powerful statements, the sad thing of the cynical age of today is that people imitate the past to defer to them, and not the message. Where is the genuine where everything is plastic?

Edwards became the stuff of legend after his disappearance; rumours of sightings and endless speculation. Ther are many instances, where unresolved issues are set, for a discourse to set around, or even a mythology to come up from, an individual. The precondition of such a mythology can come from their underlying ideology. Admittedly I don’t know very much about the MSP; but there are many cases wherewhich the life becomes the embodiment of the message.

What do I mean by that? It is here where authenticity can be found; where one lives their art, or art expresses one’s life. The ambivalence and restlessness of grunge; the anti-Christian hatred of black metal through acts of violence unto religious communities, or even, in the case of some infamous Norweigian bands; violence unto each other in the band.


Was it in Homer, where it was said that the testimony of the Greek warriors was that we still sing of them today?

We know Ajax and his violence, we know the unfortunate death of Priam and the subsequent fall of Pergamum, but some historians found that there were many different cities of ‘Troy’ on that one location; but constantly were razed over the many hundreds of years.

Immortality is the sign of good art, immortality is the testimony of good thought; how many people remember Kant; where Lampe was but a mere dim-witted soldier forgotten in the annals of history (except, by Kant scholars and historians, as Immanuel’s trusty servant).

The centrality of the artist-hero

Perhaps one way to listen to music in the popular production and everyday discourse of things is by relation to an individual; the hero of music is the composer; for she is the God, the creator of the world we are asked to enter.

Can we understand the work of Nirvana without relating it to the life of Kurt Cobain? It seems, that his death has cemented, and given an irony to what he has made in life; his death by suicide, complete the message of the cynicism and pessimism of contemporary youth.

Recently, a lady friend of mind passed on an album of Lilly Allen; I found it exceptionally funny; I liked the jokes in it, the music was droll, but the attitude was there. The spoiled orgasm of music today is that we associate celebrity with shameful lives; like the Greek Pantheon who indulged in the acts of sexual promiscuity, double-crosses, and all sorts of transgressions.

I do not want to be cynical, but in such an age today, it seems like its the only way to be; sometimes hope is embedded in pain; light in the midst of darkness. The interest we may invest into music embodies the expression of ourselves. By following the cult of celebrity (an intentional pun cult of personality); we can find some positives; we may follow the music and life of Madonna as we have been teenagers during her early period, but we may still ask ourselves in the discourse: is she still a material girl? Is J-Lo still that working class gal? Celebrity reinforces, yet also mutates, the ideology of person embodied in the common discourse of art. It seems absolutely bizare, but what are we to conclude when we presuppose such a discourse of common consumption?

Better consumers

Would it not be ideal to be educated into how we are to consume? Very few people (myself among them) appreciate literature, and all sorts of artforms, I have no idea how to approach dance, for instance (other than not doing it). The idea of the cultivated consumer of art is not an original one; it goes back to a number of people such as Ruskin. The cultivated consumer is of the utmost importance. Which leads me to another thought…

Michael (and Sinistre)


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