From the Bookshelf: Wilson on "Authenticity"

"One of our great problems today is that we have gotten caught up in our culture-wide quest for authenticity. We want our jeans authentic (pre-ripped at the factory), we want our apples authentic (grown locally instead of somewhere else), we want our music authentic (underground bands nobody ever heard of), we want our lettuce authentic (organically manured), we want our literature authentic (full of angst), we want our movies authentic (subtitles), and we want our coffee tables authentic (purchased from a genuine peasant while we were on some eco-tour). In short, we are a bunch of phonies. We are superficial all the way down.

We are not going to get out of this snare until we see the quest for authenticity for what it is— a hypocrisy factory, cranking out tight-weave superficiality by the yard.

Now of course, there is a sense in which the word authentic should not be a problem. If a manuscript expert said that a recently discovered eighth-century manuscript was authentic, he means that it is not a forgery. Great, and no problems. The same thing goes for paintings, and so on. But somewhere between that and a crusty old farmer who has an authentic soul because he grows tiny peas for the local farmers’ market, we have lost our way. The word authentic has lost its authenticity and has become a nebulous term of praise, loudly used by those who are in the process of chasing their zeitgeistian jack-o’-lanterns.

This quest for authenticity, in its current configuration, is actually a quest to feel superior to other people, and because everybody has gotten in on this very attractive proposition, this presents a considerable marketing challenge. As a consequence, we have low sales resistance, no shortage of authenticity-mongers, and lots of niche markets for different manifestations of superiority . These good folks will sell you a smaller carbon footprint, a burlap tote bag, a slate shower, a Che poster, an indie movie that only the true-hearts understand, a trip to the rain forest, a bit of jewelry for your nose, and lots and lots and lots of other stuff."

Wilson, Douglas (2011-11-16). Wordsmithy: Hot Tips for the Writing Life (pp. 16-17). Canon Press. Kindle Edition.