Why we crave naturalness (these days)

From philosopher Alain the Botton’s The Architecture of Happiness (page 159-160):

Historians have often noted that the Western world in the late eighteenth century acquired a taste for the natural in all its major art forms. There was enthusiasm for informal clothing, pastoral poetry, novels about ordinary people and unadorned architecture and interior decoration.

But we shouldn’t be led by this aesthetic shift to conclude that the inhabitants of the West were at this time becoming any more natural in themselves. They were falling in love with the natural in their art precisely because they were losing touch with the natural in their own lives.

Thanks to advances in technology and trade, existence for the European upper classes had become, by this period, overly safe and procedural, an excess which the educated looked to relieve through holidays in cottages and readings of couplets on flowers.

In his essay ‘On Naive and Sentimental Poetry’ (1796), Friedrich Schiller observed that the Ancient Greeks, who had spent most of their time outdoors, whose cities were small and ringed by forests and seas, had only raraely felt the need to celebrate the natural world in their art. ‘Since the Greeks had not lost nature in themselves,’ he explained, ‘they had no great desire to create objects external to them in which they could recover it.’

And then, turning to his own day, Schiller drove home his message: ‘However, as nature begins gradually to vanish from human life as a direct experience, so we see it emerge in the world of the post as an idea. We can expect that the nation which has gone the farthest towards unnaturalness would have to be touched most strongly by the phenomenon of the naive.

Incredibly insightful and blatantly obvious at the same time.