On Pretending

by Rie

I am supposed to be studying, as usual.

But I’ve had this nagging thought at the back of my mind. Mind you, I’m probably not an authority on – well, I’m not any kind of authority on anything, so I think we can let that disclaimer just sit there.

So, I looked up the word ‘pretentious’. I thought of its use yesterday; I knew exactly where to apply the label but I didn’t know what it meant.

Anyway, dictionary. Looked it up. Defines ‘pretentious’ as attempting to impress by affecting greater importance or merit than is actually possessed.

My first thought, “Dictionary writers are amazing.”

My second thought, “I think everything in my life is pretentious.”

My third thought, “I think everything is pretentious.”

And I’m not sure it’s a bad thing.

For one thing, I think looking up a definition for a blog post is pretty pretentious. This is a blog post, after all. A blog post on a blog with a grand total of…15 followers, WordPress says. I think philosophizing is pretty pretentious, too. I think thinking might even fall into the same category.

Deeming something pretentious is akin to asking, “How do you belong in the ranks of what is actually intellectual and actually complex?”

The key word there is intellectual. Intellectual because what is usually associated with pretentiousness is tied very closely to the supposed traits of intelligence. I did the very scientific thing and Google-d pretentious to see what I could turn up. I turned up the oft-scorned hipsters, literary references, foreign movies with subtitles (of the high brow kind), and molecular gastronomy.

And my research – all 30 minutes of it – just made me feel like being pretentious isn’t actually bad. Granted, it has its origins in the word ‘pretend’ but its current cultural associations will not have me see it as a negative word. What current Googling would have me believe is that much of art is pretentious. I rather like art. I also wish I could quote poetry in regular conversation but that would be pretentious. Except that I really like poetry. The books I like are pretentious books. The chocolate I like probably has pretentious labels attached – it’s just that salt is really, really good with chocolate you guys, and the fancy artisan sort tastes even better.

Is being shallow the opposite of being pretentious? What does it mean to be echt, then?

Now, take everything I’ve said with a grain of salt. I’m struggling a little right now and my writing mirrors that. Plus, I have no background in etymology and whatnot. I wish I did, though.

Have to reiterate: I don’t expect anything I’ve written to have made sense. These are, at best, ramblings. At worst, they’re just words that fell together from the dictionary.

(I want to add that I think the application of said label is also subjective but I think that’s a whole other post. I would have to discuss standards with you. And perception. We’ve already done perception this week, in what was a pretentious post. Oh, gosh, I just laughed because pretentious and perception both start with P. Brain death, seriously.)

A final (rhetorical) question: Are tags pretentious? I think tagging a post ‘life’ or ‘society’ etc., is pretentious, so I did it. Ha.