I sent the following text message this morning:
"I'm getting really good at killing fruit flies with my bare hands."
It’s true; I’ve snagged two of them recently, my fist closing quickly like the tongue of a frog, and I intend to keep practicing.
But as soon as I sent it I realized how strange this usage is — had I been, perhaps, wearing gloves, I still would have made the same boast. Which in turn made me wonder, why do we use “bare hands” to mean “without tools”, but “bare feet” to mean only, literally, without shoes or socks?
Recently, I’ve been bothered by a perceived over-use of the word (and concept of) “authentic”. It’s become a potent buzz-word at least within the food media world, and I’ve noticed it increasingly, perhaps because I’m primed for it, across other conversations, as well.
I’ve been spending a lot of time mulling this over in my mind, and I’ve decided that there are some uses that bother me, and some that don’t so much. They can roughly be divided into two classes: internally-ordained authenticity and externally-ordained authenticity. This is just what I’ve come up with over several weeks of casual ruminating; the world has no shortage of other classification systems, such as those discussed here, which to some extent overlap with the way I am seeing this proposed dichotomy. And there are plenty of uses of the word that don’t really fit neatly into these two classes, either. I use them only as a proxy to discuss the way conversations about experiential (and cultural) phenomena take place and the power dynamics within them.