We live in the New Sincerity world
We need to destroy it.
The New Sincerity is the perpetually reinvented wheel of the discourse. A few weeks ago an article was made to trend on twitter claiming that the ‘earnest female celebrity is in’, once seen as uncool, it naturally attributes this change to a ‘younger generation’ (in their 30s) and located it in a wider cultural reaction to ‘irony’. Every so often a tweet gets a distressing amount of likes saying something to the affect of blah blah blah the Modern Counterculture is Sincerity and Churchgoing and voting Kanye, Irony and Nihilism is the Mainstream. In 2016 the popular twitter commentator Logo_Daedalus reached for New Sincerity on his blog to explain events, again, what’s striking is how the New Sincerity is projected forwards into the future rather than a hegemonic fait accompli. Even further back (but still distressingly near) Tumblrists in 2015 invented ‘Hopepunk’ and criticised angsty, dark settings you might easily associate with Warhammer or Alan Moore’s comics as a case of white male privilege endorsing positive uplifting storylines and settings instead. If there’s one idol to whom obeisance is on everyone’s lips today its Sincerity and the dubious claims of its novelty.
The hallucinatory newness of sincerity is a textbook case of how an older generation can convince those younger to believe in their own values by selling them as a means of rebelling against the older generation. The New Sincertiy was invented by David Foster Wallace, (or ‘David Foster Bollocks’ as the good Mikkagroyper called him) over 30 years ago. In 1989 Wallace outlined his idea in a negative review of John Updike who he took to task as the favourite writer of his parents’ generation. Wallace’s historiography ran as follows: in the 1950s and 1960s it was necessary for writers like John Barth and Thomas Pynchon to be ironic because the society of White Negroes in which they lived was racist and sexist and atomically ambitious. It was okay for ‘arseholes’ like Norman Mailer to write about themselves being ‘arseholes’ because everyone is an arsehole, man. However, in the post-revolutionary multiracial society of the future this was simply inexcusable narcissism: there was a terrible danger people might IDENTIFY with these unlikable male caricatures instead of focusing on the author’s moral intent (Postmodernism was dead even then). Wallace, presciently channelling the spirit of Ronnie Reagan, realised America’s 21st century Empire needed spiritual armour. He proposed a Wholesome Chungus literature that would do for America what Ruskin and Kingsley had done for Britain and move the minds of its young elites towards proper stewardship of Empire.