Becoming Animal : An Earthly Cosmology by David Abram
David Abram’s debut book, The Spell of the Sensuous, is widely regarded as a timeless classic in the realm of environmental literature. In his latest work, he embarks on a thought-provoking journey, delving deep into the profound interconnection between humans and the natural world. In an era marked by alarming climate change, the escalating toll on our planet serves as a stark reminder that we must fundamentally transform our relationship with the earth.
For far too long, humanity has overlooked the inherent wisdom of our bodies, instead relying on disconnected technologies to shape our understanding of reality. Abram’s writing seeks to dismantle this artificial barrier, encouraging readers to tap into their innate animalistic senses. By doing so, we can explore the elemental bond between our physical selves and the living, breathing Earth.
This book captivates with its exploration of diverse phenomena. From the shape-shifting agility of ravens to the alluring sensuality of gravity, from the poetic symphony of thunder to the profound pleasures of being edible – every aspect finds its rightful place within these pages.
Becoming Animal: Embracing Sensory Experience in the Living Cosmos
Unlocking the Intimacy of Sensory Experience: A Journey into the Ecological Philosophy of David Abram
In a world shaped by the influences of humans, David Abram, a cultural ecologist and philosopher known as a geo-philosopher, delves into the interplay between human perception, language, and the animate Earth. Drawing on his expertise in the ecology of perception and the ecology of language, Abram illuminates how our sensory experiences and the way we speak can either enhance or impede our connection to the more-than-human world.
Abram argues that our senses, including sight, hearing, touch, and smell, serve as a binding force between our individual nervous systems and the encompassing ecosystem. They act as a primordial glue that connects us with the land. Instead of viewing the natural world as separate objects stripped of their own agency, Abram urges us to perceive every being, from moss to mountains, as vibrant entities with their own sensations, desires, and secrets.
The powerful influence of language becomes apparent when we realize that the way we speak shapes our perception of the world. Abram highlights the inherited ways of speaking that hinder our sensory rapport with the Earth. By objectifying nature and reducing it to quantifiable objects, we distance ourselves from the animate qualities of the beings around us. Abram suggests that a more attentive, reciprocal way of speaking can encourage a dynamic interaction between our animal senses and the earthly sensuousness.
Referring to the wisdom of an Inuit elder named Nalunjiak, Abram emphasizes that we have falsely believed in our radical separation from other animals. By assuming that only humans possess meaningful speech and consciousness, we blind ourselves to the unique intelligence and expressive capacities of non-human creatures. Through their individual ways of moving, dancing, feeling, and communicating, animals reveal their own profound wisdom.
Abram invites us to awaken our senses, to become attuned to the sensuousness of our local environment. He emphasizes how our senses serve as the most immediate access to the more-than-human world, guiding our moods and actions. Our eyes, for example, have evolved in response to the visible world, while our ears have become finely tuned to the sounds of the wild.
The depth of our sensory experiences brings us into a reciprocal relationship with the Earth, shaping our awareness, insights, and connection. Abram asserts that our dependence upon the living community of beings has been forgotten or dismissed due to a disregard for sensory experience. By honoring and valuing our sensory perceptions, we renew our bond with the larger ecology and find alignment with the breathing Earth.
Abram’s philosophy advocates for a radical imminence, a reconnection with the living cosmos. He invites us to celebrate our animality and embrace our bodies as the luminous manifestation of spirit. Through an expanded understanding of matter and materiality, we recognize that the spirit is not separate from the material world but is intertwined with the breath of the Earth.
As we breathe in and out, exchanging oxygen and carbon dioxide with the plants, we immerse ourselves in a reciprocal relationship with the Earth and its atmosphere. Our spirit, intimately intertwined with the air, becomes an expression of the inter-breathing of all living beings. This recognition leads to a profound sense of interconnectedness and reminds us of our place within the larger collective of living entities.
Abram’s work invites us to rediscover the magic and wisdom embedded in our sensory experiences and language. By reopening our senses to the more-than-human world, we reconnect with the breathing Earth and enhance our understanding of ourselves as part of a vast, animate tapestry of life.