So, in the midst of the scuttlebutt about the Pulitizer Prize, the Supreme Court acting like very much like a Bush Machine, and Richard Nelson's "Fix What's Broken" plea... I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed.
So here's something a bit more fun I've been thinking about...
What makes something, or someone, Pretentious?
Currently, I'm developing a piece for the Pretentious Festival called "An Interview with the Author" which is an interview with myself about my work, more or less. In an effort to crack open what the content of the piece will truly be, Kyle and I sat down and said "Well... what makes this deserve a place in this particular festival?"
My first instinct: Speaking of my own work and life as if they are unique and important is somehow comical. Kyle challenged that notion. His thought was that while it was, of course, self-aggrandizing... it's also not that uncommon in contemporary society to assume one's own life is worthy of public display. In fact, it's the very center of whatever's driving the new media culture. It's hard to appear pretentious when you are aping the same impulse as everyone who's on myspace.
Is pretention simply inflated self-importance? Or is it something else? We bandied about the idea that pretentiousness is the assumption that your own knowledge is somehow inaccessible to the audience. Or that your own views, while common, have a weight that could not be understood by others simply because of some secret, self-prescribed pact you have with a certain "truth." Is it the assumption that your taste and insight have more depth than that of your peers or audience?
Or is it just wearing black?
Or is it writing poems about how hard it is to have a Dad that doesn't understand you?
Anyhow... what does it really mean when we call someone or something pretentious? Is it just a dismissal of someone who we find intimidating? Is it something quantifiable? Or is it just like pornography ("I don't know how to define it, but I know it when I see it" - David Johnston)? Have you any stories that might illuminate it...someone you found especially pretentious is your life or reading?
Is being pretentious...having a blog?
- Matthew Freeman is a Brooklyn based playwright with a BFA from Emerson College. His plays include THE DEATH OF KING ARTHUR, REASONS FOR MOVING, THE GREAT ESCAPE, THE AMERICANS, THE WHITE SWALLOW, AN INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR, THE MOST WONDERFUL LOVE, WHEN IS A CLOCK, GLEE CLUB, THAT OLD SOFT SHOE and BRANDYWINE DISTILLERY FIRE. He served as Assistant Producer and Senior Writer for the live webcast from Times Square on New Year's Eve 2010-2012. As a freelance writer, he has contributed to Gamespy, Premiere, Complex Magazine, Maxim Online, and MTV Magazine. His plays have been published by Playscripts, Inc., New York Theatre Experience, and Samuel French.