August 29, 2010

You could trace the whole thing back to Jesus Christ, the ultimate secret agent

What's with All the Secrets and Lies? by Stephen Marche
Esquire, September 2010

"I suppose, if you wanted, you could trace the whole thing back to Jesus Christ, the ultimate secret agent, a poor carpenter who moonlights as the Son of God." (p. 102)

"The emergence of these types of stories is rooted in a newfound sophistication of American identity. We crave a new acceptance of doubleness, a recognition that secret lives are in a sense necessary. Part of this is a function of technology--our recreation is filled with Facebook profiles and gaming avatars--and we've come to expect that every person has, at the very least, a work self, a home self, a street self, and a digital self. Part of it, though, is also the fallout of recent history. Our ongoing wars and the Great Recession were the results of massive frauds, and after WMDs and 'Mission Accomplished' and the subprime fiasco and the Deepwater Horizon, we no longer take anyone or anything at face value. This is good news: We're less trustful but that much wiser, and our new cynicism has shaped how we think of ourselves and others. For the past fifty years, all culture, from the highest to the lowest, has been consumed with the distinction between the authentic and the inauthentic. The distinction means less every moment. There's no point in trying to find yourself anymore; you'll only find somebody else. 'Who am I?' has already been replaced with 'Who are I?' Soon it will be 'Who cares?' and we can all just get down to the business of living." (p. 104)

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