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Audacious Fox

Marissa Grunes, The Paris Review:

Primitive Technology was created two years ago by a man in Queensland, Australia, who builds huts, weapons, and tools using only naturally occurring materials. In all of his five- to ten-minute videos, the man wears only navy blue shorts, rarely looks at the camera, and never speaks.

It’s a niche concept, to be sure. The channel does not focus on historically accurate building techniques. It does not offer explanatory tutorials. It will not even help you survive in the wilderness: the “fire sticks” with which he ignites tinder require at least twenty-four hours to prepare and look fiendishly hard to use. So why have the videos attracted millions of viewers? And what do viewers like myself seek when we watch the channel on loop? What do we get from it?

One answer is often floated. Amid the online flood of glossy DIY demonstrations, the paranoiac alarums of super-wealthy “preppers” (people preparing for an apocalyptic event), and the cynical commentary of survivalists, Primitive Technology offers something different: quiet. A few minutes of the channel can make you feel as though you are out in the Australian forest, breathing the sun-steeped, eucalyptus-tinged air, washed clean by rain. The slow precision with which the man undertakes each step of his projects—from finding materials to shaping his tools to assembling his finished structures—lends the videos a soothing sense of purpose. On the Internet, where lunacy sometimes seems to prevail, these videos bring a kind of meditative calm.