Thanks. I agree the desire for honesty or authenticity can be overrated. Clearly, we’re torn about this, because the truth is often off-putting so that complete honesty would be a boorish, appalling breach of etiquette. This is why we’re so easily mesmerized by myths, lies, and fantasies, because they’re more compelling or reassuring than the bitter truth.

And this is why I speak of mere embers of truthfulness in pop culture, as opposed to a raging fire. The lies and half-truths greatly outnumber the saintly acts of truth-telling. Nevertheless, for reasons that Georges Bataille may have struck upon, we may be like moths to a flame in searching for some unvarnished truth even if doing so threatens our safety. Religious folks who have only exoteric, superficial understanding talk so blithely about the apocalypse, the revelation of the end of all things, as though the universe’s destruction wouldn’t be as great a Lovecraftian horror as the prospect of falling into a black hole.

The unvarnished truth in the universe as we know it is typically grotesque. We’ve developed a defensive strategy against that truth, known as mass culture. But we seem to like to remind ourselves every once in a while that the alternative is waiting for us, that the truth doesn’t disappear just because we prefer to dwell on fanciful lies. We see signs of truth in those forced facial expressions of honesty on social media.

I’m not sure if spontaneity gets to the heart of this contrast. Spontaneity would be opposed to the boredom of routine, which would make for a different critique of culture. The movie Brazil takes up this theme, using love as an opportunity for spontaneity in a dreary dystopia. Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four does the same. Spontaneity would also fit into the problems of infantilization and cultural narcissism, since we may be looking to fully express ourselves because we presume we have that right as infantilized egos.

Knowledge condemns. Art redeems. I learned that as an artistic writer who did a doctorate in philosophy. We should try to see the dark comedy in all things.

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