The phrase “act natural” often has the connotation to be ‘chill’ or ‘cool.’ It means a kind of eccentricity within bounds. This is best done when those bounds are self defined—but socially sanctioned. Any unsanctioned eccentricity is sure to be condemned, and given time—and popularity—pathologized.
When the definition is given to you it appears to be an imitation, artificial. What’s needed is variation, spontaneity, improv within bounds, like so much jazz, and when performed miraculously—a fugue… you forget who you are.
Now, the alternative is anxiety, remembering who you are a little too well. The world is constantly vibrating all around you and if you don’t go with the flow you’re likely to shake with it.
To forget or remember who you are, is to forget or remember who you are to others. There is an assumed expectation to perform a part, perform a role in relation to the other. Occasionally we fail and often succeed, because we are very good at our roles. The failure to meet this expectation might feel a bit awkward.
That is precisely what awkwardness is—the failure to meet expectations assumed in the other—and often this must be done mutually for those exceptional silences. The expectation is imagined in each of us to be in the other, but it is in neither, it is in between. Some unspoken observer—a kind of big other…
We are not natural, we are fictions, rather artificial systems, and so, with man, as if by some cosmic murmur—I would say nature had made its first aesthetic mistake. You see a fiction is only useful in so much as you know it’s a fiction—after that it becomes a limitation.
All of this stands to say—focus on yourself, not yourself in the world.
Artwork: Black Square; Kazimir Malevich