(un)natural: Ideas about naturalness in public and political debates about science, technology and medicine


Published 30/11/2015

Booklet cover
Naturalness quotes

Once, I held friends’ home phone numbers

in my head like songs I’d known all my life.

It’s not the conversations I best remember

but the digits on my tongue as I said the spell

to myself, the different tones when I pressed

each key, a particular music. It was all timing:

get it wrong and you’d be stuck with someone’s

mischievous sibling, pretending to be them, or,

worse yet, a disapproving parent—who wasn’t

really sure you were quite the right type of friend.

Then came the days of sms, and voice gave way

to text, gave way to elevated breath in the wake

of telephone conversations—clumsy, now, since

we fell out of practice. Before the age of digital

natives; a nation of people looking down at screens,

elders say we were beings of speech, the real thing.

But maybe some part of us craves this solitude.

For all I miss the rattle of phone box coin slots,

for all I lament the end of conversation, I knew

all along it was over as soon at it began—given

all these ways we invented for talking to someone

who isn’t there, the way I am talking to you now.