I agree with you 100% on everything you just said here.We might be saying something very similar. Superman is the power not having to hide. Clark is the man not-enslaved by the power. You say he's Clark to hide the power; I think he's Clark when he comes home at night and when he's saving the world (the latter he's putting up that tough-man facade).
I dunno: I am who I was raised as. Even if I change my name, I am still that person. Clark's humility is a personality trait, not a disguise, in the triangle-era (Which I'd call an extension of Byrne, wouldn't you?) His modesty is result of his upbringing, not trying to hide his powers. In a perfect world, he would be Clark, not Superman. (One Year Later he puts on a GL Ring and shines brightly as Clark not Superman. They make the point that he sees himself as Clark.)
In the serials he became Clark to keep tabs on how to best help mankind, but in the serials he wasn't raised on Earth. He was in those first books, but, yes, Clark was an obvious fake mild-mannered coward and it wasn't really explained (as readership at the time didn't demand deep or really thoughtful stories of their funny-books). Not so much in the triangle era, though: Clark was meek but not mild, humble, again, modest, a man of family and of strong moral upbringing. I feel this is where Johns got Secret Origin right and Frank illustrated it well: Superman didn't stand 'tough', he slouched. He was shy. He was Clark. Clark grew into the persona, but the persona was an act.
Which I do.
I see what you're saying about Johns' silver-age obsession in Secret Origin. That was indulgent, yes.
But what about the grand shout-out to the silver age stuff in Action? Not indulging nostalgia? What about the ease of comparison to Johns' Secret Origin? Not indulgence to modern-nostalgia? I honestly don't the the obvious line you're talking about. If it's heavily (not referencing) based upon previously-told stories without furthering those already-told stories, it seems like nostalgia-for-nostalgia's-sake. I assume you're saying Johns was nostalgia-just-'cause? I'd agree. But I'd argue that in this 'reboot' any nostalgia is indulgence: you're starting over; it's okay to ... Well, to start fresh. In that sense, Earth One was a much bigger success: it told a new story. It re-booted Superman. Morrison's growth-of-power concept is more appealing to me, but Straczynski's 'take it from the top' mentality was a stronger start-over.
That stuff about the golden age? Nonsense. This very little golden-age Superman; that's just toting the line. This is based loosely on the idea that Superman's powers & abilities came on slowly over time and I greatly respect that concept. I do not, however, respect that line. It's not based on Golden Age Superman, it's based on Morrison's idea. Which is cool, just not what they were selling.
Ah, c'mon. Morrison's just adding a little more 'murk' to an already murky pond. There's no 'fixing' it's just mashing even more together which a lot of the early oughts dug-up from the no-no pile created in '86. It's a reboot. It's either a clean slate or another mistake, but it's not a correction.