Naive and Provincial

The madcap adventures of Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty in Jack Kerouac’s, “On the Road”, bespeak an America that is awakening to a new era, one of movement, music and incomprehensible actions. The crisscrossing of the United States, from New York to San Francisco and back again by the two protagonists at frantic speeds is quintessentially provincial and naive. Hardly a moment is spent on reflection. The sheer energy that the protagonists shed speaks volumes about the essential nature of America after World War II.

Naive English furniture refers to furniture that is made by craftsmen who vaguely understand a fashionable genre and abstracts it to his own conception often with extraordinary and unique details. The native English furniture, for example, made just after the restoration of Charles II to the throne in 1660 often demonstrates a lack of any sophisticated thread of style. England had cut itself off from the international design scene and the upshot was often unique, made once or twice and never made again. The provincial-ness of such work could be naive and could be charming or not. It is always interesting when viewed in the backdrop of English furniture history.

The concept of naive or provincial seems as if it should be less meritorious just because it does not have the same history of development that something sophisticated might have. Nothing could be further from the truth. Naive may be crude, even rude, but it should never be dismissed. That value might not be quite so obvious, but in the energy of Kerouac’s characters, indeed in naive English furniture as well, there is a developed world, albeit an imperfect one. That may be the best understanding of all.

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