Sincerity is the will to truthfulness and honesty. It is the emotional component of honesty.
Woodrow Wilson was an intellectual, a liberal in the classic sense and a champion of civic virtue. Though his League of Nations could not withstand political opposition, it and his Fourteen Points laid the groundwork for a system of international law and diplomacy that could bring peaceful order to a chaotic world.
- Patricia O’Toole, The Moralist: Woodrow Wilson and the World He Made (Simon & Schuster, 2018).
- John Milton Cooper, Jr., Woodrow Wilson: A Biography (Knopf, 2009).
- H.W. Brands, Woodrow Wilson (Times Books, 2003).
- Ronald J. Pestritto, Woodrow Wilson and the Roots of Modern Liberalism (Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 2005).
- Woodrow Wilson, The Essential Political Writings (Lexington Books, 2005).
- Mario R. DiNunzio, ed., Woodrow Wilson: Essential Writings and Speeches of the Scholar-President (NYU Press, 2006).
- Woodrow Wilson, On Being Human (Kessinger Publishing, 2007).
- Woodrow Wilson, Constitutional Government in the United States (1908)
- Woodrow Wilson, papers
- Woodrow Wilson, archives from Presidential Library & Museum
- Martin Luther King's Letter from Birmingham Jail expressed the author's sincerity and simultaneously challenged his critics to their own sincerity.
- James B. Stewart, Tangled Webs: How False Statements Are Undermining America: From Martha Stewart to Bernie Madoff (The Penguin Press, 2011).
From the dark side:
- Tim Bouverie, Appeasement: Chamberlain, Hitler, Churchill, and the Road to War (Tim Duggan Books, 2019): “ . . . the appeasement policies of the 1930s were a spectacular failure, strategically and morally. But even when Hitler’s insatiability became obvious, the right response for the British and the French wasn’t necessarily obvious still: ‘It was a dilemma between honor and the horrors of a war that they were by no means certain they could win.’”
- Sylvia Jukes Morris, Price of Fame: The Honorable Clare Boothe Luce (Random House, 2014): “She was ‘an accomplished seductress’ who married once, if not twice, for money and position . . .”
Richard Nixon is a classic dark-side figure, whose career illustrates the knowing dishonesty of insincerity. He was President when the nation still believed in truth – or said it did.
- Tim Weiner, One Man Against the World: The Tragedy of Richard Nixon (Henry Holt and Co., 2015): the book “zeroes in on the Vietnam War and Wagergate”.
- Evan Thomas, Being Nixon: A Man Divided (Random House, 2015): “It is ironic that Nixon, by discrediting faith in government through the Watergate scandal, contributed mightily to (an) inward push, away from selflessness and service”.
- Michael Dobbs, King Richard: Nixon and Watergate: An American Tragedy (Knopf, 2021): the book limits “its narrative mostly to the first hundred days after Nixon’s second inauguration, when the victorious president looked poised to coast through another four years before the wagons of the Watergate scandal started to circle closer and closer”.
- Tom Brokaw, The Fall of Richard Nixon: A Reporter Remembers Watergate (Random House, 2019); here is an interview with the author.
Documentary and Educational Films
- Frida Kahlo, Portrait of Eva Frederick (1931)
- Valentin Serov, Mika Morozov (1901)
- Giovanni Batista Tiepolo, Prudence, Sincerity and Temperance (1743)
- Raphael Sanzio, Portrait of Julius II (c. 1512)
- Hans Memling, Portrait of Anthony of Burgundy (1467)
You don't know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain't no matter. That book was made by Mr. Mark Twain, and he told the truth, mainly. [Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1906), Chapter I, “I Discover Moses and the Bullrushers”.]
From the dark side:
Whatever may have been the obstinate injustice of destiny in this case, Thénardier was one of those men who understand best, with the most profundity and in the most modern fashion, that thing which is a virtue among barbarous peoples and an object of merchandise among civilized peoples,--hospitality. Besides, he was an admirable poacher, and quoted for his skill in shooting. He had a certain cold and tranquil laugh, which was particularly dangerous. His theories as a landlord sometimes burst forth in lightning flashes. He had professional aphorisms, which he inserted into his wife's mind. "The duty of the inn-keeper," he said to her one day, violently, and in a low voice, "is to sell to the first comer, stews, repose, light, fire, dirty sheets, a servant, lice, and a smile; to stop passers-by, to empty small purses, and to honestly lighten heavy ones; to shelter travelling families respectfully: to shave the man, to pluck the woman, to pick the child clean; to quote the window open, the window shut, the chimney-corner, the arm-chair, the chair, the ottoman, the stool, the feather-bed, the mattress and the truss of straw; to know how much the shadow uses up the mirror, and to put a price on it; and, by five hundred thousand devils, to make the traveller pay for everything, even for the flies which his dog eats!" [Victor Hugo, Les Misérables (1862), Volume II – Cosette; Book Third – Accomplishment of a Promise Made To a Dead Woman, Chapter II, Two Complete Portraits.]
What happens when one party is sincere, and the other is not?
- Henry James, Washington Square (1881): an heiress, whose domineering father has left her at a disadvantage in gaining men’s attentions, is faced with the question whether the young man who proclaims his love for her is sincere.
- Robert Harris, Munich: A Novel (Alfred A. Knopf, 2018): “Neville Chamberlain flew to the birthplace of the Third Reich to meet Hitler and try to stave off a conflict. Twenty-four hours later, Chamberlain returned to London, where he brandished an agreement permitting Nazi Germany to occupt the territory and pronounced four words that would forever be linked with naivete and appeasement: ‘Peace for our time.’”
- Lucia Berlin, Evening in Paradise: More Stories (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2018): stories about women confronted with challenges to their sweetness and sincerity: “One thing that makes Berlin so valuable is her gift for evoking the sweetness and earnestness of young women who fall in love (one thinks that being a good wife is handing her husband his coffee handle first, while she grasps the hot side) and then catching them at that moment when things begin to turn, when the trees of their being are forced to grow bark.”
Film and Stage
- Before Sunrise, a romantic tale about “two nice kids, literate, sensitive, tentative, intoxicated by the fact that their lives stretch out before them, filled with mystery and hope, and maybe love”, who meet, are strongly attracted to each other and spend most of their time talking.
- Faces, this film consisting “almost exclusively of tight, uncomfortable close-ups” exploresan unhappy marriage
- La Chienne(The Bitch), about one character who is sincere and another who is not
- Wilson: though his legacy is ugly with racism, Woodrow Wilson saw himself as a man of high principle.
- Closely Watched Trains(Ostre Sledované Vlaky): a film about innocence, in which a young man performs a heroic act without heroic motives
From the dark side:
- The Heiress, based on Henry James’ novellaWashington Square: is the young man in love with her or merely after her wealth?
- Dark Eyes (Oci Ciornie), illustrating that the grass on someone else’s lawnmay not be as green as it looks from a distance
- Lola, about looking the other way
- Play Misty for Me, about dangerousdeception
- The Servantwas serving himself
Music: Composers, artists, and major works
George Gershwin, Porgy and Bess (1935) (approx. 130-190 minutes), is based on the 1925 novel, Porgy, by Dubose Heyward. “The story begins in summertime on Catfish Row in Charleston, South Carolina. Disabled beggar Porgy is in love with Bess, who's entangled with violent dock worker, Crown, and plagued by drug dealer and con man, Sportin' Life. It's a community where everyone is trying to get by.” It presents a “traditional image of Porgy, a disabled beggar, and the woman he loves, Bess, who has suffered from abuse and addiction.” They handle their difficulties in opposite ways, at least on the surface. Recordings feature Warfield & Price in 1952, White & Mitchell in 1975, Albert & Dale in 1976, White & Haymon in 1986, and Powell & Lister in 2002.
The blues sides of Blind Blake, early blues, raw and unadorned.
Cara Dillon is a popular Irish traditional, folk and ballad singer with a sweet plaintive soprano voice. True to the Irish song tradition, her “slow songs” are tined with melancholy. Her albums include:
- “Live at Cooper Hall” (2021)
- “Wanderer” (2017)
- “Hill of Thieves” (2009)
- “After the Morning” (2006)
- “Sweet Liberty” (2003)
- “Cara Dillon” (2001)
- No. 1, “Oh sing unto the Lord a new song”
- No. 2, “Triumph, o ye this day”
- No. 3, “The king shall joy in thy strength”
- No. 4, “Make a joyful noise unto God”
- No. 5, “Lord hear thee in thy day of trouble”
- No. 6, “Glory to God in the highest”
- No. 7, “O come, let us sing unto the Lord”
- No. 8, “I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever”
- No. 9, “This is the day which the Lord hath made”
- No. 10, “Sing praises to God”
- No. 11, “Blessed is the Lord”
- No. 12, “I will sing a new song unto thee”
- No. 13, “Sing aloud unto God our strength”
- No. 14, “My heart is inditing a good matter”
- No. 15, “Ye people, let us come and sing of Christ’s resurrection”
- No. 16, “I will extol thee”
- No. 17, “How amiable are they tabernacles, o Lord of hosts!”
- No. 18, “It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord”
- No. 19, “The Lord said unto my Lord”
- No. 20, “In thee, o Lord, to I put my trust”
- No. 21, “He that dwelleth in the secret place”
- No. 22, “The Lord is my light and my salvation”
- No. 23, “Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound”
- No. 24, “I will lift mine eyes up to the hills”
- No. 25, “We, the unworthy, shall not cease”
- No. 26, “Lord God of Israel, there is no God like thee”
- No. 27, “I cried unto the Lord with my voice”
- No. 28, “Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord”
- No. 29, “I will praise the name of God with a song”
- No. 30, “Hear my voice, o God”
- No. 31, “O clap your hands, all ye people”
- No. 32, “Lord, make me to know my end”
- No. 33, “Why art thou cast down, o my soul?”
- No. 34, “Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered”
- No. 35, “Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle?”
- Glazunov, Symphony No. 6 in C minor, 58 (1896): “In the profoundly sincere music of the Sixth Symphony, there is nothing superficial or borrowed, everything is connected with the need to express its inner being.” [from the program notes for this album] Similarly, Glazunov, Symphony No. 1 in E Major, Op. 5, "Slavonian Symphony" (Slavyanskaya) (1884), and Symphony No. 3 in D Major, Op. 33 (1890)
- Arnold, Symphony No. 2, 40
- Bax, Legend Sonata for Violincello and Piano (1943)
- Berwald, Symphony No. 1 in G Minor, "Sinfonie Serieuse" (1842)
- Bowen, Violin Concerto in E Minor, Op. 33 (1913)
- Antonin Dvořák, Youth Concerto for Cello and Orchestra
- Harbison, Piano Trio No. 2 (2003) (of serious intention)
- Harbison, The Violist’s Notebooks (2002): Book I; Book II.
- Thibaut Roussel and Les Musiciens du Roi, Le Coucher du Roi, “an informal and intimate concert from the king’s bedchamber
- “Cameroon Garage Funk”: this a collection of tracks from Cameroon in the 1970’s conveys a feeling of earnestness.
- Various artists, “Industrial Strength Bluegrass: Southwestern Ohio’s Musical Legacy”: they wear it on their shirtsleeves.
On the dark side:
- In Verdi’s , sincerity is crushed by social artifice and convention. Here are links to performances conducted by Bernard, Gergiev and Conlon.
- Grétry, Le Magnifique (1773): a conniving suitor
They went home and told their wives, / that never once in all their lives, / had they known a girl like me, / But... They went home.
They said my house was licking clean, / no word I spoke was ever mean, / I had an air of mystery, / But... They went home.
My praises were on all men's lips, / they liked my smile, my wit, my hips, / they'd spend one night, or two or three. / But...
[Maya Angelou, “They Went Home”]
From the dark side:
- Edgar Lee Masters, “Dora Williams”
Music: songs and other short pieces