On “outward pretension”: The Task of the Saladeer

January 20, 2007

I direct your attention to Mr. Hess’ comment to Mr. Biteyoureyes first posting. Mr. Hess suggests that the raison d’etre for Yesterday’s Salad is “outward pretension,” and, as such, we should avoid such self-referential columns as Mr. Biteyoureyes brilliant debut feuilleton. Part of his claim is that pretension is an inherently negative characteristic, but that the spirit of whimsy imbibed in our outward pretension elevates us from that definition. But is this true? Is pretension truly negative?

To begin the analysis, I will make the working assumption that Mr. Hess is using definition 3b of pretension: The unwarranted assumption of a quality, esp. of merit or dignity; pretentiousness, ostentation. Truly this is a negative virtue if there ever was one. An aside: one could make a strong case that our use of “pretension” instead of “pretentiousness” is a sign of our undeniable pretension. While I will not comment on such a dissimulated accusation, i will suggest that we begin using “pretense-adj,” (Pretended, alleged, professed; feigned; dissembling, fictitious; obs.) wherever possible.

But this is hardly the only definition of pretension. The primary definition for pretension is, “An allegation or assertion the truth of which is not proved or admitted; often with an implication that it is unfounded or false, or put forth to deceive, or to provide a false excuse or ground.”

however, the word also means: “The assertion or claim that one is or has something.”

this is similar to the first meaning, and also close to definition 3b. the idea of pretension is that a claim is made without providing evidence. this claim could either be by right and true, or not. this leads to the now nearly obs. definition, “An intention, a design; aim, aspiration.” these are all positive claims being made without any sort of substantiation. they may not come true, but the connotations of all these words (except maybe design) are positive. still, this positive definition is fading, giving credence to mr.  hess.

we should remember, however, that the root idea of pretension is “pretend.” that the idea of claiming something wrongly, or feigning, is that one is pretending. to this i suggest that we at the salad are not pretending. we are who we are: a mirthful collection of aspiring plutocrats, wiling away their salad-days.

One Response to “On “outward pretension”: The Task of the Saladeer”

  1. […] on par with the Gotham Gazette. It’s newsroom should be buzzing with the type of pretentious (not a bad thing) speech that so filled Metropolitan. Clark Kent may act like a country bumpkin, but at heart […]

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