Writing about ‘authenticity’ can turn out to be not only a challenge for the general knowledge while trying to concentrate on it as a scientific specific term, but also a surprise.
Authenticity is based on a clear distinction between self and the others according to British philosophy. The word and the concept starts its journey in the ancient Greek world to land full of experience in the 20-th century. The word “authentikos” was the one used by the Greeks linked to the truthfulness of origin, not corrupted or copied from the original. It is defined as a quality of being genuine and representing facts.
It is not my attention to go deeper in the meaning of ‘authenticity’ in the Greek world or how it is perceived in Arts, Law, Archaeology, or other fields.
In my opinion, authenticity starts at the human psyche and becomes materialised in someone’s work, lifestyle or profile, being authentic is more than anything materialised in you, your path of life and memories. Therefore, I would like to limit this article to ‘authentic behaviour’ and its materialisation.
The journey to my authentic spots will make me learn more in practical term about authenticity. I mean those spot in me that no matter where I am or how I feel, or what I have eaten, or to whom I speak…are always there. These actions, attitudes, taste are somehow free and do not like thoughts to intervene… As a matter of fact they exist with the like or dislike of my conscience. If I try to list them they might seem very common to people but nevertheless these are fragments of what I consider my authentic part, my original self.
This is Orchis Albanica an orchid that grows only in Albania and rarely in the Montenegro. It represents an endemic flower.
It is at the very beginning of my journey that I realise that this simple task: the limitation of authenticity in the human mind and the further limitation in my specific authenticity is not so simple. It is not easy, because, as I start thinking about the subject, it turns out that I could not pour out many things since I try to localise those spots in my memory or behaviour, that are somehow uninfluenced from the external world.
I like to run bare foot on the beach. This is something I’ve always liked and it doesn’t seam like I have copied it from somewhere. On the other hand, the doubt rises in me that I have seen it somewhere and afterwards made it my hobby. I did not discover it myself: running on the beach, did I? Well I might have discovered it at the same time as millions of 5-6 years old boys around the world, while many other millions didn’t.
This attempt makes me aware of the difficulty that this task is rapped with. What can really be authentic in a man living in a planet with other billions of people?
I squeeze and squeeze and all the things that seam pure and very personal to me like looking at the eyes of someone for hours, to speak and learn from each person, my specific way of joking with certain phrases, my lifestyle variation in years: someone who dedicated his life to sports and ended up with a postgraduate law do not appear totally original in the end. They were influenced somehow by the outer world.
Well maybe I am not authentic at all which makes me like many other people that live on the planet. Probably this is the age of many things other than authenticity. The age where the smallest authentic unit is by surprise a location, a community as small as it is, places not yet conquered by civilization or globalization or.. or…
Can the decodefication of authenticity bring us to a human body and mind level? Well me and my experimental Cavies (which is me) failed during the first phase..
This is a fisherman for the town I was born. He holds in his hand the Carp fish which is cultivated in the Shkodra Lake. This fish has an access to three water movements: The Drini River that flows into the lake and the Buna River that flows to the sea. Thus he has the possibility to switch from salted to sweet waters.
Authenticity is the degree to which one is true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character is realised despite the pressures of the outer world. Of course there are boundaries and limitations such as time, space, society’s morals etc. in a person’s life. I mentioned these things because these are factors that influence our being on the planet. I understand that I can not neglect them, but surpass them so that reaching authenticity is still possible.
I can act or accomplish something because of the influence of the outer world in me: because I am expected to do so by my friends, family or because there is an already finished model placed in front of me. On the other hand the motivation in me to do the same thing could be my inner self, my instinct, my perception.
What I would like to stress at this point is that authenticity at the level of human behaviour and perception is very personal and can not easily be judged and understood by others. It is a personal little “war” that a person chooses to carry on. I can run bare foot because I was influenced by my friends at the football team at the time, or I can run bare foot because I really like it, because it is a materialisation of my inner self; I find peace and can let go in this action. Either way the final act is the same: I run bare foot and the truth about the decision lies within me. I am the only one to know whether my path of actions was leaded from the outer or the inner world.
The extent to which we live an authentic life can be related with many things: our happiness, our well being or rejection from the outer world.
As I mentioned before, our life is limited from different factors and it is important that authenticity does not become self-destructive by going against these factors while trying just to make a difference or by being stressed as the meaning of life only by thought control. I would like to mention here that punk culture that was perceived as an anti consumerist movement in the US and UK, who pointed out their difference from the corrupt system as their claim to authenticity and treated authenticity as purity. Being thus neglected and often looked down upon by society, they needed to form a subculture to survive the pressure from society. Here is where the personal authenticity within the subgroup is put again in danger because the punks are somehow or could be urged to follow the moral of their subgroup.
I think is very difficult to treat authenticity at the level of a subculture or a bigger unit because the integrity of the smaller units gets corrupted by that of the whole. This is not by chance a common natural law.
This thought brings me again with pleasure at the smaller unit which is me. I mentioned above some customs of mine that are very simple and do not have the sound or echo of something that is perceived as really authentic (like the case of the punk movement).
Still, believe me or not, these actions are the materialisation of my authenticity; as simple and not unique they seam as strong and as individual the original inner motivation.