Liz Smith: The Abasement of Authenticity

“Which one of the stars of ‘Les Miserables’ is the best-dressed?” asks a movie advertisement.

I found this quite funny since the characters in Victor Hugo’s great book are all starving, living in the Paris sewers in rags and stealing bread to live.

I’m just warning you, dear reader, we got a lot of e-mails discussing the abasement of authenticity in the overkill of comment, so here are a few thoughts from our readers.

This refers to the column appearing last December 12th where I asked if we are being “over-informed.”

Here is Carolyn Reynolds:

“As a former NYC cable executive, now unknown in Santa Cruz, California, I look at this time as the Dim Ages. It seems to me everything of quality dims in the din of the mediocre. 500 cable channels and nothing to watch. Reality TV that is scripted. News that is screaming opinion, lies, hearsay. Endlesss coverage of the most superficial of people and events. All this blaring out to the adult versions of those little kids carrying 100 pounds of books home in their backpacks. Too weary to take it in, too stressed to care about one more disaster that isn’t their own, barely able to stay awake to read a good book. I see this in the children of my friends and my own … the real victim is humor.

“This site and Jesse Kornbluth keeps me hopeful about civilization. The Silicon Valley keeps me hopeful about the economy and innovation but not about civitas. Not much of that there … Keep writing for us NYC ex-pats and all others who have happily discovered New York Social Diary.”

Here is Lauriate — who did not like my quote from the Churchill book The Last Lion, because it stated the Prime Minister’s agnostic nature:

“… the easy way out is to accept agnosticism. I have spent so much lifetime thinking and wondering about it all, to no satisfactory conclusion. I have decided the only deep thinking I intend to do the rest of my life is about Susan Sarandon.”

Here is Clancey Mitchell:

“I, like you, am jaded. Guess about ready to surrender to the fact that there are no news sources. I refuse to give up but someone out there has to have honesty and integrity. I feel fear for our children and grandchildren.” I guess it’s time to suspend disbelief and cynicism and worry and try being happy, joyful, helpful, and decide who we are going to help survive this Christmas, this year.

I am reforming, personally disabusing myself of worry and causing worry and starting to enjoy this many-faceted holiday. I hope you can as well, although the horrors of Newtown, Connecticut haunt us night and day at this time.

Through the offices of the generous and brilliant titan of Blackstone, who I happen to know, one John Studzinski, I was introduced last week to Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York. He enfolded me instantly in an embrace, in spite of my warning that I was raised a fundamental Southern Baptist and had become just another poor sinner who questions almost everything. This ended with his asking me to write a column for the Vatican newspaper.

What could I say, as a person who believes that organized religion has done equally — harm and help to western civilization? There are the Inquisition and the Renaissance. Explain that! What could I possibly write for those who worry about their sins, and the sins some people don’t believe are sins, and all that we do, right and wrong. I have to think on this.

Meantime, as a traditionalist, I wish you a Merry Christmas — not Happy Holidays — and I wish you happiness in all the other sects, ideas, philosophies, and celebrations that are dear to your heart.

This column originally appeared on NYSocialDiary.com on 12/18/12

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