“A nimble case for pretentiousness as a willingness to take risks.” —The New York Times Book Review Pretentiousness is for anyone who has braved being different, whether that’s making a stand against artistic consensus or running the gauntlet of the last bus home dressed differently from everyone else. Pretentiousness is an essential ingredient in pop music and high art. Why do we choose accusations of elitism over open-mindedness? What do our anxieties about “pretending” say about us? “Fox also cites the work of George Orwell and Susan Sontag repeatedly, and in this book he has written an intellectually rigorous study of culture that echoes the scope of their work. His argument is convincing, and it may leave readers with a newfound respect for the term that gives his book its title.” —Minneapolis Star-Tribune “This thoughtful essay will be balm to those who dare to be elitist.” —Toronto Star
‘Born Originals, how comes it to pass that we die Copies?’ asked Edward Young in his Conjectures on Original Composition. Young would argue that mimicry blots out individuality. But mimicry is a mechanism by which we become socialized, by which we make ourselves human. It doesn’t take a sociology Ph.D. to recognize that we pretend every day. Pretend to be absorbed in a book to avoid catching the eye of a stranger on the bus.