New Sincerity (closely related to and sometimes described as synonymous with post-postmodernism) is a trend in music, aesthetics, literary fiction, film criticism, poetry, literary criticism and philosophy. It generally describes creative works that expand upon and break away from concepts of postmodernist irony and cynicism, representing a partial return to modernism. Its usage dates back to the mid-1980s; however, it was popularized in the 1990s by American author David Foster Wallace.
Definition and characteristics
The term was used in the mid-80s – early 90s by the Soviet poet and artist Dmitry Prigov and philosopher Mikhail Epstein as the antithesis of the growing absurdity of late Soviet and post-Soviet culture. Absurdity in this case was understood as a gap between the existential understanding of things and their official ideological interpretation.
Postconceptualism, or new sincerity, is the experience of using “fallen”, dead tongues with love for them, with pure enthusiasm, as if overcoming the band of alienation … the lyrical task is restored on the antiliric material – the scum of ideological cuisine, wandering colloquial cliches, elements of foreign vocabulary … – M. Epstein
Prigov also speaks of a return to the “traditionally formed lyric-confessional discourse”, to the problems of “a non-exclusive person in a non-exclusive state”.
In American culture, the emergence of similar concepts is associated with the name of the writer David Foster Wallace . In his essay “E Unibus Pluram: Television and the Literature of the USA” (1993), Wallace, reflecting on the prevalence of conscious irony in modern American fiction, predicted the emergence of a new literary movement, in many respects sharing the positions of new sincerity.
“This sincerity is new because it assumes that traditional sincerity, in which the inspired poet equated with her hero, is dead. Yet, this novelty transcends the precedent of his alienation, impersonalism, and conceptualism,” Mikhail Epštein described.
“It can be said that, in terms of what is currently being bought, a period of some kind of neo-life has definitely come to pass. Life stories and travel articles,” Jürgen Rooste has described the novelty in literature. “/ — / a certain aestheticism, found a breakthrough, ironic-sarcastic, critical, grotesque and strange literature about Western society, when the men were somewhat perverse and cruel, now followed by such a tendency of vitality, humanity, simplicity, where the first assumption is the opportunity to equate my own voice, the narrator’s voice with the author himself, at least with his image. ”
“According to the idea, the novelty should mark the dominant flow in art, which became clearer contours at the millennium,” says Igor Kotjuh. “What is the definition of a newborn? It is almost impossible to answer, because it is a largely unsuccessful term. Is it possible to determine the sincerity of the text?” “No.” Was there a literature flow called “sincerity”?. ”
According to Kotjuh, the novelty distinguishes the novelty from earlier sincere books – examples of which are Jaan Kaplinski’s Jesuit prose and Viivi Luige’s historian – focuses on “not so much the pursuit of beauty as the message itself, trying to give weight to every single word. The work has become a precise transcription of the survivors, expressing imaginatively – as accurately as possible in the language spoken. ”
On the other hand, according to Kotjuh, the genre track composes the genre lines: “It seems that the novelty wants to expand the reader’s understanding of literary genres, which would allow for thinking like this: Siim Nurklik’s book is a novel – a play, Viivi Luige” The Shadow Theater “is a travel book – a romance, Aare Pilve ” Ramadaan ” essay. ”
Kotjuh contrasts with the novelty of postmodernism: “Postmodernism spoke in other words, the novelty speaks in its own words. Postmodernism uses different materials to build works, combining ancient stone walls with gypsum board, the novelty builds all the walls of a transparent glass, postmodernism opens the doors to the valued ones, the u-ray drops the heart from the outside.” Piret Viires affirms with him that the novelty can be spoken (only) in comparison with the rise of postmodernism in the preceding decades: “Although the novelty is not dominant at the present moment but exists alongside other directions, literature which values truth, clarity and beauty, is a rising phenomenon. ”
“New Sincerity” was used as a collective name for a loose group of alternative rock bands, centered in Austin, Texas in the years from about 1985 to 1990, who were perceived as reacting to the ironic outlook of then-prominent music movements like punk rock and new wave. The use of “New Sincerity” in connection with these bands began with an off-handed comment by Austin punk rocker/author Jesse Sublett to his friend, local music writer Margaret Moser. According to author Barry Shank, Sublett said: “All those new sincerity bands, they’re crap.” Sublett (at his own website) states that he was misquoted, and actually told Moser, “It’s all new sincerity to me… It’s not my cup of tea.” In any event, Moser began using the term in print, and it ended up becoming the catch phrase for these bands.
Nationally, the most successful “New Sincerity” band was The Reivers (originally called Zeitgeist), who released four well-received albums between 1985 and 1991. True Believers, led by Alejandro Escovedo and Jon Dee Graham, also received extensive critical praise and local acclaim in Austin, but the band had difficulty capturing its live sound on recordings, among other problems. Other important “New Sincerity” bands included Doctors Mob, Wild Seeds, and Glass Eye. Another significant “New Sincerity” figure was the eccentric, critically acclaimed songwriter Daniel Johnston.
Despite extensive critical attention (including national coverage in Rolling Stone and a 1985 episode of the MTV program The Cutting Edge), none of the “New Sincerity” bands met with much commercial success, and the “scene” ended within a few years.
Other music writers have used “new sincerity” to describe later performers such as Arcade Fire, Conor Oberst, Cat Power, Devendra Banhart, Joanna Newsom, Neutral Milk Hotel, Sufjan Stevens Idlewild, and Father John Misty, as well as Austin’s Okkervil River Leatherbag, and Michael Waller.
In film criticism
Critic Jim Collins introduced the concept of “new sincerity” to film criticism in his 1993 essay entitled “Genericity in the 90s: Eclectic Irony and the New Sincerity”. In this essay he contrasts films that treat genre conventions with “eclectic irony” and those that treat them seriously, with “new sincerity”. Collins describes
the ‘new sincerity’ of films like Field of Dreams (1989), Dances With Wolves (1990), and Hook (1991), all of which depend not on hybridization, but on an “ethnographic” rewriting of the classic genre film that serves as their inspiration, all attempting, using one strategy or another, to recover a lost “purity”, which apparently pre-existed even the Golden Age of film genre.
Other critics have suggested “new sincerity” as a descriptive term for work by American filmmakers such as Wes Anderson, Paul Thomas Anderson, Todd Louiso, Sofia Coppola, Charlie Kaufman, Zach Braff, and Jared Hess, and filmmakers from other countries such as Michel Gondry, Lars von Trier, the Dogme 95 movement, Aki Kaurismäki, and Pedro Almodóvar. The “aesthetics of new sincerity” have also been connected to other art forms including “reality television, Internet blogs, diary style ‘chicklit’ literature, [and] personal videos on You-Tube…. ”
In literary fiction and criticism
In response to the hegemony of metafictional and self-conscious irony in contemporary fiction, writer David Foster Wallace predicted, in his 1993 essay “E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction”, a new literary movement which would espouse something like the New Sincerity ethos:
“The next real literary “rebels” in this country might well emerge as some weird bunch of anti-rebels, born oglers who dare somehow to back away from ironic watching, who have the childish gall actually to endorse and instantiate single-entendre principles. Who treat of plain old untrendy human troubles and emotions in U.S. life with reverence and conviction. Who eschew self-consciousness and hip fatigue. These anti-rebels would be outdated, of course, before they even started. Dead on the page. Too sincere. Clearly repressed. Backward, quaint, naive, anachronistic. Maybe that’ll be the point. Maybe that’s why they’ll be the next real rebels. Real rebels, as far as I can see, risk disapproval. The old postmodern insurgents risked the gasp and squeal: shock, disgust, outrage, censorship, accusations of socialism, anarchism, nihilism. Today’s risks are different. The new rebels might be artists willing to risk the yawn, the rolled eyes, the cool smile, the nudged ribs, the parody of gifted ironists, the “Oh how banal”. To risk accusations of sentimentality, melodrama. Of overcredulity. Of softness. Of willingness to be suckered by a world of lurkers and starers who fear gaze and ridicule above imprisonment without law. Who knows.”
This was further examined on the blog Fiction Advocate by Mike Moats:
“The theory is this: Infinite Jest is Wallace’s attempt to both manifest and dramatize a revolutionary fiction style that he called for in his essay “E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction.” The style is one in which a new sincerity will overturn the ironic detachment that hollowed out contemporary fiction towards the end of the 20th century. Wallace was trying to write an antidote to the cynicism that had pervaded and saddened so much of American culture in his lifetime. He was trying to create an entertainment that would get us talking again.”
In his 2010 essay “David Foster Wallace and the New Sincerity in American Fiction”, Adam Kelly argues that Wallace’s fiction, and that of his generation, is marked by a revival and theoretical reconception of sincerity, challenging the emphasis on authenticity that dominated twentieth-century literature and conceptions of the self. Additionally, numerous authors have been described as contributors to the New Sincerity movement, including Jonathan Franzen, Zadie Smith, Dave Eggers, Stephen Graham Jones, and Michael Chabon.
“New sincerity” has also sometimes been used to refer to a philosophical concept deriving from the basic tenets of performatism. It is also seen as one of the key characteristics of metamodernism. Related literature includes Wendy Steiner’s The Trouble with Beauty, Elaine Scarry’s On Beauty and Being Just, and the term was taken up by designer/film auteur Brady Becker. Related movements may include post-postmodernism, New Puritans, Stuckism, the Kitsch movement and remodernism, as well as the Dogme 95 film movement led by Lars von Trier and others.
As a cultural movement
“The New Sincerity” has been espoused since 2002 by radio host Jesse Thorn of PRI’s The Sound of Young America (now Bullseye), self-described as “the public radio program about things that are awesome”. Thorn characterizes New Sincerity as a cultural movement defined by dicta including “Maximum Fun” and “Be More Awesome”. It celebrates outsized celebration of joy, and rejects irony, and particularly ironic appreciation of cultural products. Thorn has promoted this concept on his program and in interviews to the point that a scholarly work on Russian post-Soviet aesthetic theory included mention of Thorn as American popularizer of the term “new sincerity”. A typical explication of Thorn’s concept is this 2006 “Manifesto for the New Sincerity”:
What is The New Sincerity? Think of it as irony and sincerity combined like Voltron, to form a new movement of astonishing power. Or think of it as the absence of irony and sincerity, where less is (obviously) more. If those strain the brain, just think of Evel Knievel. Let’s be frank. There’s no way to appreciate Evel Knievel literally. Evel is the kind of man who defies even fiction, because the reality is too over the top. Here is a man in a red-white-and-blue leather jumpsuit, driving some kind of rocket car. A man who achieved fame and fortune jumping over things. Here is a real man who feels at home as Spidey on the cover of a comic book. Simply put, Evel Knievel boggles the mind. But by the same token, he isn’t to be taken ironically, either. The fact of the matter is that Evel is, in a word, awesome…. Our greeting: a double thumbs-up. Our credo: “Be More Awesome”. Our lifestyle: “Maximum Fun”. Throw caution to the wind, friend, and live The New Sincerity.
In a September 2009 interview, Thorn commented that “new sincerity” had begun as “a silly, philosophical movement that me and some friends made up in college” and that “everything that we said was a joke, but at the same time it wasn’t all a joke in the sense that we weren’t being arch or we weren’t being campy. While we were talking about ridiculous, funny things we were sincere about them.”
Thorn’s concept of “new sincerity” as a social response has gained popularity since his introduction of the term in 2002. Several point to the September 11, 2001 attacks and the subsequent wake of events that created this movement, in which there was a drastic shift in tone. The 1990s were considered a period of artistic works ripe with irony, and the attacks shocked a change in the American culture. Graydon Carter, editor of Vanity Fair, published an editorial a few weeks after the attacks claiming that “this was the end of the age of irony”. Jonathan D. Fitzgerald for The Atlantic suggests this new movement could also be attributed to broader periodic shifts that occur in culture.
As a result of this movement, several cultural works, including many identified above, were considered elements of “new sincerity”, but this was also seen to be a mannerism adopted by the general public, to show appreciation for cultural works that they happened to enjoy. Andrew Watercutter of Wired saw this as having being able to enjoy one’s guilty pleasures without having to feel guilty about enjoying it, and being able to share that appreciation with others. One such example of a “new sincerity” movement is the brony fandom, generally adult and primarily male fans of the 2010 animated show My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic which is produced by Hasbro to sell its toys to young girls. These fans have been called “internet neo-sincerity at its best”, unabashedly enjoying the show and challenging the preconceived gender roles that such a show ordinarily carries.
In Russia, the term new sincerity (novaya iskrennost) was used as early as the mid-1980s or early 1990s by dissident poet Dmitry Prigov and critic Mikhail Epstein, as a response to the dominant sense of absurdity in late Soviet and post-Soviet culture. In Epstein’s words, “Postconceptualism, or the New Sincerity, is an experiment in resuscitating “fallen”, dead languages with a renewed pathos of love, sentimentality and enthusiasm.
This conception of “new sincerity” meant the avoidance of cynicism, but not necessarily of irony. In the words of Professor Alexei Yurchak of the University of California, Berkeley, it “is a particular brand of irony, which is sympathetic and warm, and allows its authors to remain committed to the ideals that they discuss, while also being somewhat ironic about this commitment”.
Nowadays New Sincerity is being contraposed not to Soviet literature, but to postmodernism. Dmitry Vodennikov has been acclaimed as the leader of the new wave of Russian New Sincerity, as was Victor Pelevin.
In American poetry
Since 2005, poets including Reb Livingston, Joseph Massey, Andrew Mister, and Anthony Robinson have collaborated in a blog-driven poetry movement, described by Massey as “a ‘new sincerity’ brewing in American poetry—a contrast to the cold, irony-laden poetry dominating the journals and magazines and new books of poetry”. Other poets named as associated with this movement, or its tenets, have included David Berman, Catherine Wagner, Dean Young, Matt Hart, Miranda July, Tao Lin, Steve Roggenbuck, D.S. Chapman, Frederick Seidel, Arielle Greenberg, Karyna McGlynn, and Mira Gonzalez.
Source from Wikipedia