I’ve been musing and developing a feralosophy for a few years now, sometimes aided by other feral folk. It’s a philosophy suited to a life of untaming. Here’s something I wrote a while back about play in my philosophy, preceded by some feralosophy. Cos I want to see if they fit together, unedited, for the hell of it.
By definition, feral means to be liberated from domestic habitats into the wild.
• wild, untamed
• having reverted to the wild state after domestication or escape from captivity
• existing in one’s natural habitat
The term has taken on great resonance for us, as we explore what it means to go feral and what it might mean to be a feral artist or feralosopher. Firstly, we are not wild. We are domestic creatures. We live our lives here and now in the UK in the industrialised world. Yet 99% of our genetic evolutionary heritage was formed while we roamed the savannah for millennia as hunter-gatherers.
Going Feral is an evolutionary process. Despite our hard-wired call of the wild, for most domesticated modern human beings, ‘re-wilding’ is not something that can happen overnight, no matter how many bugs and beasties crawl into your tent with you. We carry a lot of our civilisation and culture within us. Our brains and biology may be just a little confused by the recent developments in human lifestyle that are just a blip in deep time.
Nature is ‘red in tooth and claw’, therefore going feral is not always a socially acceptable state. The wild and the tame are mixed up in us as part of nature, no matter how separate we might feel from it. Working creatively with people going feral is a fascinating process; an antidote as much to an idealized view of nature as to industrial overkill.
Going Feral is a creative and participatory practice. True to its wild nature this practice refuses to be pinned down but strolls and frolics in-between the fields of the arts, creativity, education, play and well-being.
A helpful entrance into realising your feral self is to disrupt sensory perception and thought. We explore tasks that challenge habitual perception. By being snail-like slow or moving blindfolded we begin to re-perceive our immediate environment in a fresh and embodied way.
We will add to our feralosophy bit by bit and bite by bite …
At work, on a good day, I am playing, under a big sky.
That lovely undervalued thing that apparently happens when work stops, or when work doesn’t feel like work, when you are engaged and enjoy it. The flow state.
We value our social lives, our family lives, our hobbies, in essence our play time away from our work time. What is different in the values we bring to our work? I’ve a hunch that any work can be play with a shift in attitude. I’m suspicious that the values in play might just provoke and contribute in ways that we need right now in the industrial societies of the twenty-first century.
I have 3 commitments. They’re getting better with practice:
to strive for the greater common good
to get outside
to inhabit a playful, creative state
I am curious about the myriad ways we play, or not.
I am curious about the difference being outdoors makes.
What do we learn and find when we reflect on this?
I’m interested in the transformative power of our environments; what happens when we really take notice of where we are and what’s happening.
I favour the collaborative, expressive act, when people get together and make something they didn’t expect.
Finally, I value reflective practice, which seems like the shadow side of the modern activity cycle; something lesser spotted and rare. The soft underbelly of incessant exponential growth. The human being as opposed to the human doing. Perhaps it’s increasing in value because of it’s scarcity, the need to consider both cause and effect.