Do you remember the nature table at junior school? Most of us are intrigued by nature, wild animals. ‘Back to nature’ and the ‘greenwash’ industry is a big deal. Many of us are currently loving our serving of ‘Blue Planet’ on Sunday nights.
Please don’t yawn, it’s discussed ad infinitum elsewhere, but recently I have not been able to shake thoughts about our ideas of ‘nature’ and ‘wild’.
As I look up from these pixels on this ‘device’; through the window, the blue sky and green meadow, scribbled with autumnal browns and blacks is simply but significantly invigorating in an inexplicable way. Yes, I know I need to get out more.
I often I see a scene, a sunrise, passing colours and textures etc and feel (think) the urge to capture an image, seconds later it is gone as the colours and composition change in passing. Perhaps it was not the image, the visual phenomenon, the sight, that is exciting. Perhaps it’s our recognition of something beyond our natural thought patterns that is the energising thing. So perhaps what is amazing is something wild inside me that is triggered by what we perceive? We are not wanting to share the natural sight, so much as we would love to share the wild vision.
You may notice my morning instagrams. Many of my photos are of wildlife or of natural views. But, I struggle to understand, why, when we want to celebrate goodness in our world we often revert to celebrating ’all things bright and beautiful’, ‘the stars, the rolling thunder’, ‘like a river’, ‘fire’, ‘lights’, ‘the birds of the air’ etc. Human nature often seems flawed; we require pills and potions, corrective mechanisms and language to keep us sane.
We often prettify nature, ignoring its wild survival mechanisms. We seek to get back to ’nature’, as if ‘human nature” is to build on, over and above the wild. Yes, we create stuff out of natural chemicals, but is what we do with the stuff a ‘natural’ progression. Or is it cultural? Is our culture a step on and over the natural wild. Is culture a step away from the wilderness? As soon as we start being human, is it still natural?
Yes, we are all excited by the natural/wild light and energy of a new day, but if I am honest, I am more excited but the amazing intriguing simple cultural things people can do. The simple joy children share when honest childlike ways break the adult pretence, the unconditional smile or appreciation shown by a stranger, the sharing of food, the breaking of debt and dues, the forgiveness of injury, the wisdom of age combined with over the vigour of youth, the emergency services’ dedication, the steadfastness of community workers, the morning puja, the celebratory meal, the coffee shop chatter… Is the essence of these things more wild than natural?
We return to the natural to wash our transgressions, to cleanse our busy minds… Some of us use music to connect with our inner wild. Like our cultural imagery, much of what passes for music in our culture is so prefabricated that its ugliness passes for cool. Over the last few years, I have discovered great soundscapes through BBC Radio 3’s Late Junction, and even other ‘stuff’ on Radio 3. When the choir I am in plays with sounds in practice, the experience can be far more affecting than the most celebrated compositions.
So back to a wild naturalness … With music, the noise is wild, the composition is a construct; what we feel & think upon perceiving the sound or music can be phenomenal.
With visual art, the mark and light is wild, the composition is a construct; what we think and feel upon perceiving the vision can be phenomenal.
Perhaps in life, the natural is a construct, underneath this construct is a wildness that if felt and thought about might perhaps be significantly phenomenal.