David Brooks on Sincerity in Music

Do yourself a favor and give David Brook’s newest column on “What Sincerity Looks Like” a read and follow it up with Chance the Rapper’s live performance referenced in the article. A few guiding snippets:

Sometimes pop culture seems completely prepackaged and professionalized, so when somebody steps out and puts on a display of vulnerability, trust and humility, it takes your breath away.

That’s what Chance the Rapper did on Monday on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.” He debuted a new, untitled song, but which is about the perils of stardom — which is what you’d sing about if you were 24 and you’d blown up so big.

If you watch the video from the show, you see Chance just sitting on a stool, with his friend Daniel Caesar on guitar and some ordinary-looking backup singers behind him. There’s no superiority here, just an artist humbly baring himself before his audience, trusting them to understand, sympathize and receive his bid for intimacy. There’s always something multilayered when people tell you a story about the ground that they have honestly walked.

Brooks goes on to compare the difference between Taylor Swift and Chance the Rapper.

The first thing you notice in comparing the Chance and Swift songs is the difference between a person and a brand. A lot of young people I know talk about “working on their brand,” and sometimes I wish that word had never been invented.

A person has a soul, which is what Chance is worrying about. A brand has a reputation, which is the title of Swift’s next album. A person has private dignity. A brand is a creation for an audience. “I’ll be the actress starring in your bad dreams,” is how Swift puts it.

The second thing you notice is the difference between sincerity and authenticity. In Lionel Trilling’s old distinction, sincerity is what you shoot for in a trusting society. You try to live honestly and straightforwardly into your social roles and relationships. Authenticity is what you shoot for in a distrustful society. You try to liberate your own personality by rebelling against the world around you, by aggressively fighting against the society you find so vicious and corrupt.

Back in the 1950s, sincerity seemed treacly and boring, and authenticity, in the form of, say, Johnny Cash, seemed daring and new. But now rebellious authenticity is the familiar corporate success formula, and sincerity, like Chance the Rapper’s, is practically revolutionary.

Advertisements

From the Archives: 1/27/2015 Edition

The 30,000 Futures of the Brain

https://medium.com/@neuroecology/the-30-000-futures-of-the-brain-d857e3fbec55

 

The European’s Fight and the Kids Hear Everything

http://humblestudentofthemarkets.blogspot.com/2015/01/the-european-parents-fight-and-kids.html

 

How Language Police are Perverting Liberalism

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2015/01/not-a-very-pc-thing-to-say.html

Jezebel Responds

http://jezebel.com/a-note-to-chait-dissent-isnt-suffocation-internet-isn-1682017960

 

How YouTube Lost It’s Soul

http://pando.com/2015/01/26/keep-youtube-weird-how-youtube-lost-its-soul-and-may-lose-the-creators-that-built-it/

 

The Netanyahu Disaster

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/01/Netanyahu-vs-Obama-on-Iran/384849/

 

Inside League of Legends, the World’s Largest Virtual Psychology Lab

https://medium.com/backchannel/inside-the-largest-virtual-psychology-lab-in-the-world-7c0d2c43cda5

 

The Business of Fake Diploma’s

http://priceonomics.com/the-business-of-fake-diplomas/

 

Just Another Interview with Bill Gates

http://www.vox.com/2015/1/26/7877357/bill-gates-interview

From The Archives: 11/25/2014 Edition

Chock Full Of Learning Today.

 

Why Uber Fights (This article looks at a lot of the reasons why it makes sense for Uber to act the way it does)

http://stratechery.com/2014/uber-fights/

and Increasing Returns and the Two Worlds of Business (warning: PDF. This is an older paper, but if you haven’t read it before its a really good primer on the subject, and it helps flesh out some of the stuff in the Uber Article)

http://www.iwp.jku.at/Born/mpwfst/02/BArthur/Arthur_B.pdf

 

This is What We Know About A Prairie Home Companion

http://boringoldraphael.tumblr.com/post/102816045574/this-is-what-we-know-about-a-prairie-home

 

Why It’s Impossible to Indict a Cop

http://www.thenation.com/article/190937/why-its-impossible-indict-cop

Don’t Blame the Grand Jury, Blame the Law

http://www.newrepublic.com/article/120408/ferguson-grand-jury-didnt-indict-darren-wilson-good-legal-reasons

 

The Hidden TV Gem’s of 2014

http://grantland.com/hollywood-prospectus/thanksgiving-tv-jane-the-virgin-netflix-bbc-america-starz/

 

Orrin Hatch On the Tech Issues the New Congress Will Take Up (yes on patent trolls, no on net neutrality)

https://medium.com/backchannel/will-new-congress-pass-tech-agenda-orrin-hatch-says-yes-5c60b2dd689

and Why Mark Cuban Wants Fast Internet Lanes

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-switch/wp/2014/11/24/why-mark-cuban-opposes-net-neutrality-i-want-there-to-be-fast-lanes/

 

Firing Chuck Hagel 

http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2014/nov/25/firing-chuck-hagel/

And The Fall Guy (Firing Chuck Hagel is not a cure, it’s a symptom of the disease)

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/11/24/the_fall_guy_chuck_hagel_resignation_obama_administration_national_security_team

 

The Missile Men Of North Vietnam

http://www.airspacemag.com/military-aviation/missile-men-north-vietnam-180953375/

 

God’s Lonely Programmer

http://motherboard.vice.com/read/gods-lonely-programmer

From the Archives: 8/27/2014 Edition

How a Chinese national gained access to Arizona’s terror center

http://www.propublica.org/article/lizhong-fan

 

Did Tony die at the end of The Sopranos?

http://www.vox.com/2014/8/27/6006139/did-tony-die-at-the-end-of-the-sopranos

 

Understanding the comedy of Phil Hartman (Grantland’s SNL @ 40 series has been terrific)

http://grantland.com/features/the-glue-understanding-the-comedy-of-phil-hartman-saturday-night-live-newsradio-the-simpsons/

 

How the Japanese screwed up Pearl Harbor

http://www.historynet.com/pearl-harbor

 

Dropbox’s plans to stay relevant 

http://www.wired.com/2014/08/dropboxs-plan-to-stay-relevant/

 

Polanyi’s Paradox and the shape of employment growth (warning: pdf)

http://www.kansascityfed.org/publicat/sympos/2014/093014.pdf

 

Pew Research shows Facebook and Twitter limit political debate

http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2014/08/facebook-and-twitter-limit-political-debate.html

 

In hostage negotiations, is the price ever right?

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/aug/25/murky-world-hostage-negotiations-price-ever-right-insurance

From the Archives: 8/26/2014 Edition

Last Call: The End of Printed Newspapers

https://medium.com/@cshirky/last-call-c682f6471c70

 

Twitter v. Facebook as a news source

http://gigaom.com/2014/08/18/twitter-vs-facebook-as-a-news-source-ferguson-shows-the-downsides-of-an-algorithmic-filter/

 

What to Expect When Apple’s Expecting

http://www.forbes.com/sites/ericjackson/2014/08/25/interview-with-horace-dediu-what-to-expect-when-apples-expecting/

 

Endgame for Putin?

http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/robert-skidelsky-asks-if-the-endgame-in-ukraine-will-also-mean-the-end-for-vladimir-putin

 

38 maps that explain the global economy

http://www.vox.com/2014/8/26/6063749/38-maps-that-explain-the-global-economy

 

The complete guide to burger blends

http://firstwefeast.com/eat/guide-to-burger-blends-with-tom-mylan/

 

Grantland on the Emmy’s

http://grantland.com/hollywood-prospectus/the-emmys-after-party-vapes-staches-and-a-breaking-bad-love-fest/

 

This man has nothing to hide, not even his email password

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/08/this-man-has-nothing-to-hide/379041/?single_page=true

From The Archives: 8/25/2014 Edition

The Aftershocks: Has Italy Criminalized Science?

https://medium.com/matter/the-aftershocks-7966d0cdec66

 

Apple + IBM, this time it’ll be different

http://www.mondaynote.com/2014/08/24/shift-happens-apple-ibm-this-time-itll-be-different/

 

The Matter of Time: What Should a Magazine Company Be?

http://nymag.com/news/features/time-inc-magazines-2014-8/

 

The Bro Whisperer of Bustle

http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2014/08/bustle_one_year_later

 

Who Will Win, Might Win, and Should Win the Emmy’s

http://www.vox.com/2014/8/25/6050325/emmys-2014-tonight-breaking-bad-will-win-true-detective

 

Tesla and GM Race to Build the First Mass Market Car

http://qz.com/252990/the-story-of-elon-musk-and-gms-race-to-build-the-first-mass-market-electric-car/

 

The Verge’s very impressive interactive piece on Virtual Reality

http://www.theverge.com/a/virtual-reality

 

Bill Hader on Saturday Night Live

http://grantland.com/features/bill-hader-saturday-night-live-snl-week/

 

 

From the Archives: 8/22/2014 Edition

How Mugabe raised money from Wall Street to Crush his opposition

http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-08-21/mugabes-bailout-och-ziff-investment-linked-to-zimbabwe-despot

 

Frank Miller’s Dark Night

http://grantland.com/features/frank-miller-sin-city-dame-to-kill-for-batman-dark-knight-holy-terror-comic-books/

And the Fall and Rise of Frank Miller

http://www.wired.com/2014/08/frank-miller-sin-city-a-dame-to-kill-for/

 

Everything you wanted to know about Doctor Who but were afraid to ask 

http://www.vox.com/2014/8/22/6055755/doctor-who-explained-who-is-doctor-who

 

Check out some charts about UK tech use! 

http://ben-evans.com/benedictevans/2014/8/7/chartflood

 

Argentina’s Default is…weird 

http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2014-08-20/argentina-s-last-bond-exchange-went-so-well-it-s-doing-another

 

Are streaming services for E-books inevitable?

http://praxtime.com/2014/08/18/libraries/

 

What Lies Beneath Stonehenge?

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/what-lies-beneath-Stonehenge-180952437/?all

 

America in Decay (may be behind a paywall)

http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/141729/francis-fukuyama/america-in-decay

 

The Moderator Revolt!

http://priceonomics.com/the-aol-chat-room-monitor-revolt/