Thomas Gokey
The Scandal of Sincerity
2007
Performance
A performance by Thomas Gokey and volunteers about true love as a part of the Sincerity & Sentimentality series hosted by Concourse, 2007

The philosopher Emmanuel Levinas defines sincerity as the impossibility of keeping silent. To a certain degree we are able to control our expressions. Very talented actors are able to control their expressions to a higher degree. Yet there are also involuntary expressions. When we are nervous or frightened we might shake despite our attempts to remain still. When we are in pain or grieving we might weep despite ourselves. We might not be able to help laughing at an inappropriate joke despite our moral offence. But even under normal conditions there is always a minimal involuntary expressivity of the face. Levinas is the philosopher of the face to face relation and, according to him, our faces never stop speaking so long as we are alive. The eyes to not shine, Levinas says, they speak.
The York psychologist Arthur Arun performed some rather Levinasian experiments designed to study how we fall in love. One of his experiments involved taking complete strangers and inviting them to share secrets with one another that they have never told anyone before. After sharing these secretes the strangers were asked to quietly look into each other’s eyes for four minutes. This experiment was so successful that many of these strangers started dating afterwards, and some of them even ended up getting married.
For the remainder of my time I would ask that each person pair up with another whom they do not know and look into each other’s eyes and share secrets. Try to keep a straight face if you can, but it is okay if you cannot.
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