U is for Unruly

| February 11, 2014

U is for unruly

Ingold writes about the notion of straight lines as one that we equate to humanity and culture, and conversely we relate curved lines to nature, even animality. Leach wrote, “visible, wild nature is a jumble of random curves” (p.155) and we can see that in the places of nature we retreat to for relaxation. Forests, oceans and desserts are not controlled by the hand of man and are even considered by many “unmanageable”. The places we exist within, brick walls and concrete sidewalks are controlled and manipulated by man.  Rooms are standard rectangles with 90-degree corners and parallel walls. The spaces we dwell in are far removed from nature and its unpredictable environment.

When we open a door to a classroom, we will not be shocked by its four walls, occasional windows and desks (most certainly aligned somehow parallel to the walls that contain them). Almost mindlessly we assert power over a situation by arranging the furniture in neat, orderly lines, establishing control and order in the space. New York City is a great example of the control man asserts over a space. The city is literally laid out on a grid. Our trains run north to south, and our blocks are almost always straight lines. The parks are expertly crafted and reflect careful thought and input. Riverside Park reflects a parallel line down its entirety. Central Park begins to introduce the idea of curvature, and presents the opportunity to get lost for a while. I propose the need for unruly places, spaces where you can get disoriented and are forced to realign your thinking. The unruly presents the prospect of the unknown, the disorderly and the mysterious. Perhaps we should welcome a bit more unruliness in our lives.