So pretension is a form of pretending, and pretending can be productive. I wouldn’t be the first to argue that the arts might provide a useful safe-zone for working things out. Brian Eno certainly beats me to the punch in his diary, A Year with Swollen Appendices (1996), when he writes: ‘I decided to turn the word “pretentious” into a compliment. The common assumption is that there are “real” people and there are others who are pretending to be something they’re not. There is also an assumption that there’s something morally wrong with pretending. My assumptions about culture as a place where you can take psychological risks without incurring physical penalties make me think that pretending is the most important thing we do. It’s the way we make our thought experiments, find out what it would be like to be otherwise.

Frieze Magazine | Archive | Class Act by Dan Fox

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Peter Stichbury