Pastiche

Definition: a work of art produced by combining elements of other works

I’ve known this word to be used pejoratively, to imply that an artist or creator has nothing new to say and just copied inspiration from elsewhere. But in my reading, it seems to be considered a legitimate form of art.

I went looking for content on the “pejorative-ness” of the word, and I found an article from Building Design, helpfully entitled: It’s time to stop using “pastiche” as a pejorative term. The article itself is a little obtuse, but the teaser line says this:

The word has long been used to unfairly malign architects working in the classical tradition. We need to reclaim the term and celebrate the fact that predecent and tradition are at the heart of most good contemporary architecture.

I found others, but they were less crusading. For some people, calling something “pastiche” is an insult. For others, they embraces it as the reason for their work. The key seems to be whether the creator acknowledges that the work is a pastiche. Being self-aware makes it okay; if someone else points it out, then it’s a problem.

It reminds me of the Everything is a Remix video.

Why I Looked It Up

I’m working on a new conference presentation. I was going over it in my head, and I got to thinking, “This is just a pastiche of other sessions I’ve done.”

Then I started wondering why I thought that – I didn’t even really know that word, did I? So I went looking, and it turns out that I did sort of know the word, and I used it naturally, but I have no idea where I became used to it.

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