The obvious contradiction between the surfing experience and its depiction to serve commercial interests highlights the contemporary western history of separation from the natural world. We can capture and record images of surfing. But, the experience itself is transient. In essence, we are also transient, which is terrifying if thought of objectively. But, subjectively, experientially, this is the core of our being. As paradoxical as it seems, the fluid present is the only stable perspective.
We only fear transience when we look at it objectively. In essence, the problem is not the transience, but the perspective that renders it objectively. The commercialisation of sub-cultures like surfing capitalises on this delusion, by inviting people to substitute their objective transience with a socially defined identity.
"Sports people stabilize their identity (among other things) by seeking the specific sport setting that best fits their self-concept and that offers self-conformatory feedback. The chosen sport setting can be understood as an identity-stabilizing social situation.".
By adopting the perceived stability of the group, our fear of transience disappears. One could reason that it is a fair deal. By promoting culture and inviting membership, brands only help people to manage their human condition. However, they are also perpetuating the problem, since promoting culture endorses its objectification.
Fear is in our nature because recognising danger is key to survival. However, dangers vary, as does our ability to defend against them. So, although fear of transience seems to equate with fear of death, the threat is not gauged by the danger itself, but rather by our inability to determine the nature of the danger and how best to respond. Although the threat posed by our own transience is an illusion, the more we try to interpret it the more our inability to gauge the threat increases our fear of it. The fear is real. But, it is also pointless, because transience is not an object that can be interpreted separate from ourselves.
The brain controls fear with serotonin, which works by slowing the electrochemical impulses passing between synapses. If the level of serotonin in the brain is low, the person becomes hypersensitive to potential threats. It works like a buffer, giving the brain time to interpret the threat posed by a given danger. However, the ability to make such a judgement is determined by experience, which depends on exposure to stimuli. So, the brain rewards the person for focusing attention, by releasing dopamine in response to pattern recognition. This is what we gain by subscribing to a group identity. The sense of belonging feels good because it triggers the release of dopamine in the brain. However, it is an inauthentic existence, reflecting on a narrowly defined stereotype, instead of the experience itself.
By following nature's rhythmic patterns and processes, surfers assume an ecocentric perspective that defies the temporal order imposed by capitalist culture. When conditions are ideal, social commitments are sidelined in favour of surfing. Through direct involvement with nature, surfers develop an authentic connection with nature, thereby embracing the core principles of ecosophies such as deep ecology and ecophenomenology.
- ↑ Steltner, R. (1996). The transformation of bodily experience into language. Journal of Phenomenological Psychology.
See also Edit
Further reading Edit
- surfism.net Surfism is a philosophy that views existence in terms that correspond to surfing.