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




3 thoughts on “Naturalness

  1. What if the narratives of our separate selves are mechanisms for coping with the diversity of culture, way of giving meaning to these selves partitioned for different tasks, somewhat; in order that more complex communication can occur? Communication is not a straight forward phenomenon when there is the diversity of culture superimposed onto it, so we need to adjust to that perhaps.
    i wonder where the natural/unnatural divide is too. Some monkeys have developed the use of tools, a harder object to break a softer one. We call this natural. It took thoughts or a process of elimination at least. Man creates something harmful & it is unnatural, but it is still only a matter of thinking something, it is an exponentially greater degree of sophistication to the monkeys “harder object” but it still came from a being that needs to eat, shelter, clean itself & excrete waste.
    i don’t know if it artificial is something that is so easy to use as a negative way to debunk what we do, i think how necessary it is to what we need is more appropriate, because no matter what we do, we have natural functions & until we prove there is a God, we can only assume consciousness is a natural phenomenon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree entirely that narratives are a necessary coping mechanism for modelling our person in correspondence with the cultural world.

      The odd undertext to this is naturalness in physics. Our standard model and alternatives right now require a great deal of what’s called fine tuning to get the observed answer. There is a normative and aesthetic claim that the world ought be natural. Somehow fit together in way that makes sense to our logic is easy and reducible.

      The effectiveness of those narratives often have to do with the aesthetics of our observer, cultural or otherwise. Now perhaps some observers prefer fine tuning an awkward social manner. In a sense we’re just defining natural as that which is superior and unnatural as that which is inferior. It’s an aesthetic choice.

      Awkwardness always seemed well defined as some fault in expectation. Where those expectations came from and who is observing the failure to meet them is a question of geometry. I always thought it required a third. Some other to same make the aesthetic call. Like Lacan’s big other. But as Lacan said: there is no big other.

      At some point much of this is meant to be integrated into a description of aesthetics… and that’s the best we can do. Speak of what’s beautiful.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. i agree. Would you say ‘natural’ & ‘unnatural’ become redundant terms in the wake of aesthetic choice?
        i’d also like you to expand on “Awkwardness always seemed well defined as some fault in expectation. Where those expectations came from and who is observing the failure to meet them is a question of geometry” but i am especially interested in the ‘failure to meet being a question of geometry’. i can’t make the connection, but i want to understand.


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