2.06.2011

On Sincerity and Speaking Multivalence


"I'll finger sincerity, by exemplum relate a portrait of my luck." — Lisa Robertson, The Weather (more on her soon).

I think that my efforts at speaking the ambivalence — nay, the multivalence — that I feel often makes my words seem to ring, well, insincere. On the one hand, I deliver my words with great conviction. Simultaneously, I have a hard time being terribly serious. After all, everything gives way.

But does that make me insincere? Or, on the contrary, does it make me more sincere? What is sincerity? Must sincerity be univocal, filled with conviction about this or that? Or is sincerity a certain articulation of what's happening — and what's happening is manifold (I love that word)? Can I be — and, perhaps, must I be — sincerely ambivalent?

(Socrates — he who was never sincere — was often accused for moving between the "natural" and "conventional" definition of a word: Which use of sincerity shall we use?)

Bergson seeks a philosophy that would be absolutely precise, absolutely particular, absolutely one with that moment of the world. To do so, this philosophy must not just think duration, it must think and speak within duration, within the relentless change that is the world, that is all things.

How best, then, to speak this world that is always moving, changing, always giving way?

I love the quote form my new favorite writer, Lisa Robertson: I'll finger sincerity — not embrace it because sincerity is too loaded with sentiment, with cliche, with falsity — and I'll do it by exemplum, by showing this radical particularity that is my becoming, that is my luck, that is my fate, that is my happening, that is: this. Here, this, all this.

Irony, methinks, is sincere. As is humor, often. What is probably more commonly insincere is sincerity in that it fails to speak the duplicity, the multiplicity, of becoming.

This is not say that there is not a time and place for a certain mode of sincerity, on those rare but perhaps beautiful occasions when one's feelings are so unified that speaking in breathy, teary proclamations is appropriate. (There are no doubt other modes of sincerity, too.)

But, most of the time, duplicity and multiplicity are what's called for, are what's called forth. I want to say it all, to have the great teem and whirl, the desire and need and fear and love and loathing and dream come through, all at once. To be sincere in that sense is to make language speak in multiple tongues simultaneously, like Tuvan throat singers who sing harmony with themselves.

Only they're revered and people just think I'm an insincere asshole. And so it goes.

1 comment:

Glenn said...

To answer your second question, I think it makes you more sincere... I think your sincerity jumps of the page (screen).

If people think you are insincere arsehole I would put it down to their reading of 'it'. The same happens all too often with irony and humour, particulatly humour in recent times, mis-read it and you miss the sincerity.