Wednesday, December 7, 2011

"Unpretentious"

Yesterday, Velouria of Lovely Bicycle! wrote about the person behind the blog Bikeyface. I enjoy both blogs on a regular basis, so it was fun to see the person behind the scenes - you know, the "real" person. Velouria mentions that when the two met up they discussed who they are in real life versus the perception of who they are from posts for their respective blogs. It's not the first time I've wondered this about myself, but it did spark something in me that now has my little hamster wheel turning. I tend to do a lot of "self-awareness" writing, meaning that as I discover something about myself (bike related, or not) I ramble on about it in a post (or sometimes several posts). In my mind, I figure no one has to read what I'm writing (and sometimes I wonder why anyone reads what I write - but that's a completely different session for the doc's couch). I also wonder if I come across as someone different than who I am.
Image found here
Velouria (very kindly) included Endless Velo Love on a list of her favorite reads recently. I was truly honored (and surprised), but to be perfectly honest, my neurotic self came out a bit when I read that she sees my blog as "unpretentious." It's not that I want to be considered pretentious (because I'm not - at all), and I have no doubt that this was meant in a positive light, but I am also a person who can over think things, so it started a little conversation in my head. After I've done/said/wrote something, many things often fly through my mind (Should I have said that? Do I sound like a total dingbat? Do I have any business putting anything out into the blogosphere at all? Why am I still writing this thing anyway? Do I project an image of myself that is false? Do readers pick up on my weird, sometimes sarcastic sense of humor? Can anyone follow my wandering strings of consciousness as I write? Etc).

So, anyway, when I read the word, "unpretentious," I was immediately reminded of an art critique I sat through recently in which someone said that my painting is "unpretentious." Oy, that word. Why does it keep coming back to me? It was not the first time that the word has been used to describe my art either. In the art world, I don't know what to think of such a statement. I tried to take it as a compliment because personally, I think there is too much pretension in art ... but knowing the situation, it was probably a bit of a dig at my work. Really, what does the word mean anyway? I'm not trying to be something I'm not... Not trying to impress anyone...Simple, but functional... I mean, really all of these things are true. It doesn't mean that it's all I am though. Really, I can also be a raging b!tch (just ask Sam) <<< [See, this will be one of those things I'll think about later and say, "Why did I write that?"] I can be super easy going about most things in life, and then find one little thing that will drive me insane. I get cranky (mostly when driving), I get annoyed, people piss me off, but I also avoid conflict, always want people to feel comfortable, and truth be told, even my worst enemy would be welcome to stay with me if they were in need. We all have variances in our personality (otherwise we'd be dull, dull people) and it would be impossible to express every nuance of who I am in a blog. Besides, there's no rule that states I must share every piece of my life - even though I have been known to do so, whether people want to hear it (read it) or not. One thing is for sure, I definitely express opinions much more readily here than I do in real life.

Regardless of the intention behind the word "unpretentious," people have opinions (of both art and the blog), and there isn't much I can do about that fact. The bottom line is that authenticity is important to me, and hopefully that comes through, at least on occasion. Do I change my opinions over time? Of course. Do I often have two (or more) simultaneously conflicting thoughts? Yep. Am I someone to look up to or admire? Goodness, no. I understand that we can't know everything about someone when reading only snip-its of his/her life, and we will inevitably form opinions about people through what we read, but I suppose it begs the question, "Does any of it really matter?" In the end, I hope my art work is unpretentious, because that is who I am... and as for the blog, well, I suppose it would only transfer to this space as well. Maybe I need to wear this label as a badge of honor instead of believing there is some unseen, unspoken, underlying connotation to the word... or, maybe I just need to let the hamster rest once in awhile.

8 comments:

  1. I'm sure Velouria meant it as a compliment, i.e. as opposed to "militant cyclist" blogs.

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  2. Giles, I know Velouria meant nothing derogatory. I think this word has been used so often in recent months in regard to me/my work though, that I have developed some kind of weird complex about it. I can certainly appreciate that this is not the place to find anything even remotely militant. :O)

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  3. G. E., I know that you didn't feel that Velouria tried to disparage your blog or your opinions but it's a fact that "unpretentious" carries connotations in addition to the explicit meaning. (We have the same thing in French: C'est sans prétentions always means "a nice effort but insignificant results".) Thus, I understand that you developed a "complex" toward the word. Come to think of it, "amiable" is also often used for "not worth considering".

    All this being said, I much prefer women's blogs (about cycling) because they're more personal, more down to earth, less competition-oriented and they're more well written as a rule (without so much slang and acronyms and technical terms) and it's useful for me in learning English.

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  4. I know how it is to question oneself in that way - as though the words others use present a mirror to our true selves. Personally, I think of the word unpretentious as a compliment, though of course it's not always used that way. But, as the opposite of pretentious, I think it's a good thing. Also, in my opinion, authenticity is a rare thing in art, and I value it. I interpreted Velouria's use of the word in that way, though I have no idea of the intention of your art critic.

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  5. CJ, I definitely took Velouria's comment as a compliment (how could I not), but it's funny how certain words can set something off in our minds. I think it was more of an observation about myself - that I can take something innocuous or even complimentary and create something entirely different in my head. I am fascinated by triggers for myself, and for others.

    Giles, I would have no idea that you hadn't (haven't?) mastered the English language. You write eloquently. I have always wanted to learn French, but have thought that it would be more difficult to learn without a practicing partner. We often have discussions here about learning another language together for that very reason. The problem has been that we can't seem to agree on which language to learn. I took Spanish in school, but never quite grasped enough to actually be able to speak or write the language very well.

    I agree that, in general, women's blogs read as more down to earth (though not always). My reading preference, however, depends on the information I'm seeking. Sometimes, technical information can be useful (even if I don't always comprehend every piece of the information.

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  6. I see the word as meaning that you are approachable and, as others have said, down-to-earth. You appear not to take yourself too seriously and have a great sense of humor about the world around you, despite the times you want to flip it the bird. You've got a great blog here that is fun to read. In fact, yours was the first bike blog I commented on because I felt comfortable that I wouldn't be treated like a clueless n00b. (Not that the other women bike bloggers I read would do that, but still, I felt more "at home" with your blog. Thanks for being unpretentious you. :)

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  7. Aww, Melanie - that is really sweet! You made my morning!! :O) I'm glad to hear it (read it) [<- I have a bad habit of saying "hear" instead of "read" when referring to the written word. Thank goodness my English-teaching grandmother isn't reading this]. I know this space isn't always humor-filled, but I definitely don't like to take life too seriously.

    Thank you, again, for your very kind words.

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  8. By calling your blog unpretentious, she was actually saying much more about OTHER bike blogs. Relax!! ;^)

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