Authenticity and Materiality

I feel like I’m at a very exciting time right now. A particular essay suddenly resonates with me — Benjamin’s “Theses on the Philosophy of History”. The striking first passage there links materialism with messianicism, with politics, and even with lying and cheating (and not with science), which is what I am slowly beginning to discover, along a different path of course. It  is not easy writing a history of “authenticity”, first of all because we’re never certain if authenticity even matters, I mean, in a grand historical scheme. But second of all — assuming now that it does — and this is the primary topic here — we realize that we are having an incredibly hard time drawing a distinction between the authentic and the inauthentic. The attempt to write a history of the authentic — which is in fact the very same thing as what Benjamin calls “materialistic historiography” — is the attempt to establish a point of contact coming from two opposing directions — on the one hand, a kind of lingering doubt, a kind of conviction, on the other hand, considerations of historical significance.

My error for the longest time was not recognizing what seems now to be the primary problem, “from the driver’s seat”, and instead attempting to give a spectator’s view, an overall model of how authenticity could be significant. And, as we know, this involves mysticism more than it does refinement.


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