Mark Landis pretends. With great skill he creates copies of lesser and greater works of art and then donates them to museums all around the country, pretending that his forgeries are the real-deal. He never accepts payment of any kind. Eventually someone caught on and alerted Museum Curators who went through their inventory and, almost inevitably, all discovered his works in their collections. This discovery did not stop Mark who continues, to this day, with his grand deception. Since he never accepts remuneration in order to profit from the work of an original artist he is, technically, not violating any law. When asked why he does what he does Mark commented, “You kind of get addicted to being a philanthropist… the gratitude, the being treated as being ‘special.’ Before I started doing this it seldom happened that people were nice to me.”
It has been pointed out to Mark that his skill in reproducing what someone else has created is exceptional, but when asked to create a piece of his own making… he is unable to know how to do that. It is as if he has no personal artistic vocabulary available to him with which to speak in paint and canvas. Despite Mark Landis’ considerable artistic skill he seems to have no interior vision; rather, it feels sufficient to him to pretend… a pretending which is, in essence and motivation, in opposition to reality.
And then there’s Jimmy. Two friends ask him to house-sit for them while they go off on a long-dreamed of trip to Hawaii. So Jimmy moves into the small but comfortably cozy house; in fact, the house is so comfortable that Jimmy begins to dream of how it would be if it were his. When he wakes up, as he putters around during the day, he posits: What if this was mine? What if this was my life?! In order to get a feel for whether or not he would want this, after a few days he begins to pretend that it IS his: His kitchen, his yard, his cat who soon convinces him that the cat is NOT part of the dream! He pretends, but his pretending is not a denial; rather, it is more like a “trying-on”.
When the friends return Jimmy goes back to his life in his apartment, but it is not the old Jimmy who returns: Having tasted the dream in which he indulged for two weeks, he becomes determined to turn the dream into his reality. He saves up money by no longer buying on impulse, by no longer buying six of one item in the grocery store, by no longer buying lottery tickets. But turning his dream into his reality is not based solely upon denial: Every so often he buys a small be-sequined pillow, a turquoise teapot, a single plate of a set he hopes to purchase in his new life… all items of the future life in which he hopes to live, items which he stores in a large box at the back of the closet. He comes to think of that box as the treasure chest that holds his future. In Jimmy’s case his pretending created and nurtures the dream of his future, thereby bringing that future just that much closer to his today.
Pretending, like many things in life, can be good or bad, depending on how it affects how we relate to reality. What do you pretend about? Does it cause you to take refuge from your life, or does it cause you to reach out for your future? Do you have a personal vision for your future? If not… why not?