Inventing an Authentic Life
Eric G. Wilson
“[A] terrific new philosophical investigation.”—Clancy Martin, The New York Times Book Review
Shoot straight from the hip. Tell it like it is. Keep it real. We love these commands, especially in America, because they appeal to what we want to believe: that there’s an authentic self to which we can be true. But while we mock Tricky Dick and Slick Willie, we’re inventing identities on Facebook, paying thousands for plastic surgeries, and tuning in to news that simply verifies our opinions. Reality bites, after all, and becoming disillusioned is a downer. Eric G. Wilson investigates this phenomenon. He draws on neuroscience, psychology, sociology, philosophy, art, film, literature, and his own life to explore the possibility that there’s no such thing as unwavering reality. Whether our left brains are shaping the raw data of our right into fabulous stories or we’re so saturated by society’s conventions that we’re always acting out prefab scripts, we can’t help but be phony. But is that really so bad? Our ability to remake ourselves into the people we want to be, or at least remake ourselves to look like the people we want to be, is in fact a magical process that can be liberating in its own way. Because if we’re all a bunch of fakes, shouldn’t we embrace that? And if everything really is fake, then doesn’t the fake become real—really? In lively prose, Keep It Fake answers these questions, uncovering bracing truths about what it means to be human and helping us turn our necessary lying into artful living.
Eric G. Wilson is the Thomas H. Pritchard Professor of English at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He is the author of Everyone Loves a Good Train Wreck, Against Happiness, The Mercy of Eternity, and five books on the relationship between literature and psychology.