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Lionel Trilling, in the course of arguing that the focus of personal morality had shifted from a Victorian era emphasis on outward consistency, or sincerity to a proto-existential adjunct to 'be true to oneself,' known as authenticity, quotes Andre Gide's remark that, "One cannot both be sincere and seem so." Jane Taylor, who is speaking tommorow at the New School, seems to be making a similar point when she says, "Anywhere that ‘sincerity’ names itself, it ceases to exist. It is a value that is vouched for through a circuit of social consensus, in which it cannot itself trade." Its an interesting moment to bring back a discussion of the term, as sincerity, or its absence has become an essential feature of a certain mode of ambition. Further, it seems somewhat incongruous that someone could be both insincere and authentic, as the precisely the desire to be insincere, or the one which motivates insincerity reveals a corresponding lack of authenticity.
Recently, Taylor has examined the various historical and theoretical relationships between subjectivity and performativity. Juxtaposing sincerity with her work with visual artist William Kentridge, Taylor's lecture tomorrow will also touch on her work in South Africa with the Truth and Reconciliation committee.