During this unusual time when our movement is largely restricted – and for those based in urban centres it can be especially difficult to find spaces of uninterrupted green – @naturistic__journal’s verdant feed proves to be a therapeutic resource and a delightful tunnel of escapism. Throughout history, ranging from frescos of wildlife found in the ancient ruins of Pompeii, to Impressionist paintings of fecund gardens, artists have continuously felt the need to represent natural beauty. These scenes provide a temporary shift from day-to-day anxieties to perspectives that offer a pleasurable alternative.
Defined as a mental diversion by means of entertainment or recreation, escapism essentially provides an “escape” from the perceived unpleasant aspects of life – much needed at present. Interestingly, several cultural theorists have postulated that this diversion is more inherent in today’s urban, technological existence because it removes people from their biologically normal natures. Entire industries have sprung up to foster a growing tendency of people to remove themselves from the rigors of daily life. Principal amongst these are fiction literature, music, sports, films, television, roleplaying games, pornography, recreational drugs, the Internet and computer games.
While many have associated the idea with unflattering connotations, a number of eminent literary figures have challenged the notion that escapism is fundamentally negative. For instance, J.R.R. Tolkien, responding to the Anglo-Saxon academic debate on escapism in the 1930s, wrote in his essay “On Fairy-Stories” that escapism had an element of emancipation in its attempt to conceive a different reality. His peer C. S. Lewis was also fond of remarking that the usual enemies of escape were jailers. Another advocate of daydreaming, German social philosopher Ernst Bloch wrote that utopias and images of fulfilment, however regressive they might be, also included an impetus for a radical social change.
Turning to pastoral life for inspiration, Cottagecore, a Tumblr-born aesthetic school originating from the late 2000s, celebrates romanticised interpretations of agricultural living. With a recent resurgence on social media platforms including Instagram and now Tiktok, the visual approach is centred on the idea of a supposedly simple life and harmony with nature, as well as certain themes associated with the survival of the environment, food and caring for people. While not riffing on any particular aesthetic movement, @naturistic__journal’s posts too offer a glimpse into a less complicated and unrestrainedly idyllic way of life.
Oscillating between imagery of the magnificent Norwegian countryside, nesting hummingbirds, ivy-covered cottages, and 80’s Laura Ashley home décor catalogues, to foggy scenes from California’s Crane Creek Regional Park, and a video of ducklings bathing in a sun-drenched kitchen sink framed by a bouquet of off-pink magnolias, @naturistic__journal is the perfect dose of Internet escapism during a pretty drab time, as well as an uplifting moodboard of revitalising things to see and do once we can return to a new normalcy.
Feature image: Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy, France, 2002 by Nadav Kander (via @naturistic__journal)