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Pretentiousness can be used to mean a few things, i.e., empty-posturing: Pretending to be something you're not. Allowing this within society leads to an empty hollow, a balloon-ego, where people feel good no matter if they can come up with the goods or not.
It can also mean taking oneself too seriously. This passage from Nietzsche matches this second definition.
Not seeing the humanity, the exotic, and the aesthetic nature of life leads to this pointless pursuit of knowledge. No amount of knowledge can make up for a desolate character. If the balance of power-knowledge is not set correctly, through beauty, friends or aesthetics, then that knowledge does you no good.
Without balance, without aesthetics, knowledge drains you. It makes you weak, slow, ugly, spoiled, tense and shadowed. Self deprecating humour was my own first step away from this type of pretentiousness - the ability to simply dismiss yourself, or realize that no matter how hard you try sometimes you're just fighting a downhill battle. To realize that no amount of knowledge can readdress the balance of inner beauty, without laughter.
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