[...] sincerity as a concept has from the beginning been wracked by this kind of difficutly, has never, in fact, evaded its theatrical connection to a notion of performance. "In a traditional sense," van Alphen and Bal tell us, "sincerity indicates the performance of an inner state on one's outer surface so that others can witness it. But the very distinction between inner self and outer manifestation implies a split that assaults the traditional integration that marks sincerity" [...]
[...] Wallace, who recognized that Derrida had "successfully debunked the idea that speech is language's primary instantiation" (Lobster 84), agreed that the effect advertising had of highlighting the complexity and impurity of all discourse could only be responded to by acknowledging one's own implication within this "system of general writing." One must begin by recognizing the lack of any transcendent, absolute, Archimedean point from which to judge the authentic from the inauthentic, the sincere from the manipulative, truth from ideology, and so on.
footnote explains that E Unibus Pluram is not a lament against TV/advertising, but an attempt to understand their power
In a pithy formulation, Steven Connor has quipped that "[b]eing modernist always meant not quite realizing that you were so," whereas "[b]eing postmodernist always involved the awareness that you were so" [...] I would suggest, being a "post-postmodernist" of Wallace's generation means never quite being sure whether you are one, whether you have really managed to escape narcissism, solipsism, irony, and insincerity. Again, this uncertainty is structural, allowing as it does for a genuine futurity that only the reader can provide. Hence Zadie Smith, in her introduction to a recent collection of stories by Wallace and his contemporaries, is right when she claims that their texts are primarily "attempting to make something happen off the page, outside words, a curious thing for a piece of writing to want to do" (Introduction xx). It is only by invoking this future off the page that dialogue can be engaged, and that both reader and writer can be challenged by the dialogic dimension of the reader experience. This call for a two-way conversation characterizes not only Wallace's work, but all the fiction of the New Sincerity. [...]