Genre is central to the self’s authenticity. The self can only be parsed as “authentic” in relation to a legible set of conventions. “It is the perception of repetitions that makes a work of art intelligible,” Sontag writes in “On Style.” When I am trying to be true to myself, I turn “myself” into a genre, with readily recognizable and repeatable tropes. I can never be authentic, only authentically generic. I can create and meet a set of established stereotypes of myself. Being oneself always means being a self-parody, and being a parody of oneself is the process of self-discovery. Self-parody precedes selfhood.
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