jueves, 16 de septiembre de 2010

David Abram Becoming Animal

Parul Sehgal

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David Abram, ecologist and author of Spell of the Sensuous (1996), is the hierophant of a group best described as environmental ecstatics—nature writers with a primary interest not in studying or saving the earth, but in reveling in its metaphysical powers. In his new book, Becoming Animal, Abram is on a particularly complicated, mystical, and almost messianic mission: He wants to reclaim "creatureness"—our animal senses and subjectivity—in a society in thrall to the "cult of the expertise" and the tyranny of machines. He hopes to reintroduce us to a pungent, unpredictable world of "resplendent weirdness."

The book is not, however, purely a call to the wild. Abram has a clear sense of the world we're in and why it exists. "To identify with the sheer physicality of one's flesh may well seem lunatic," Abram writes, because the body is so vulnerable to "scars and the scorn of others, to diseases, decay, and death." It's understandable, the author points out, that we abstract our physical selves and seek sanctuary in virtual worlds. But—and here the book's dervish dance of an argument begins—in doing so we renounce our vast stores of "mammalian intelligence" and our citizenship in the natural world. In an effort to counteract these tendencies, Abram delivers meandering disquisitions on birdsong, the beauty of shadows, indigenous lore, and why good rhythm can protect you from the wrath of sea lions.

Abram's sentences are lush, unpruned, and unfashionable: References to the "wombish earth" and "chthonic powers" pop up with dismaying frequency. But his indifference to irony, economy, and current literary fashions can also be refreshing. He allows himself to be expansive, sentimental, and more than a little mad ("The feathered ones," he writes of birds, "have long been crucial allies for our kind"). When he succeeds, his book is transformative, animated by piercing observations and hallucinatory intensity. He observes how his shadow, "never violating its Pythagorean proportions, expand[s] imperceptibly toward the eastern horizon." And how, in van Gogh's paintings, objects "are not situated in space but actively deploy or secrete the space between them." Still, he misfires with regularity: Cloying neologisms accrue ("mothertouch," "fathersong"), and everything is alive in a wide-eyed Disney movie kind of way (stones "hunker" adorably into the soil, his house "glowers" at him). Abram's peculiar consciousness can become so strong that the reader can feel stuck, even claustrophobic. To commune with the natural world, here, seems to mean communing with a world bearing Abram's unmistakable thumbprint.

Abram excoriates anything that mediates our relationship with the earth—shoes, chairs, language—and his book falters when he shifts into activist mode. His prescriptions for addressing climate change and the devastation of biospheres (more farmer's markets, more oral storytelling) is naïve at best and dangerously feckless at worst. But in the end no one will read Becoming Animal for its authority or even its acuity. This lopsided book so exalts in imperfection and idiosyncrasy that it practically seems to celebrate its own blemishes. Its contradictions—solipsism mixed with compassion, overheated prose mixed with precise observation—couple to create a work of inconsistent genius.

Parul Sehgal is a nonfiction editor at Publishers Weekly.

ABOUT THIS BOOK

David Abram’s first book, The Spell of the Sensuous—hailed as “revolutionary” by the Los Angeles Times, as “daring and truly original” by Science—has become a classic of environmental literature. Now Abram returns with a startling exploration of our human entanglement with the rest of nature.

As the climate veers toward catastrophe, the innumerable losses cascading through the biosphere make vividly evident the need for a metamorphosis in our relation to the living land. For too long we’ve inured ourselves to the wild intelligence of our muscled flesh, taking our primary truths from technologies that hold the living world at a distance. This book subverts that distance, drawing readers ever deeper into their animal senses in order to explore, from within, the elemental kinship between the body and the breathing Earth.

The shapeshifting of ravens, the erotic nature of gravity, the eloquence of thunder, the pleasures of being edible: all have their place in Abram’s investigation. He shows that from the awakened perspective of the human animal, awareness (or mind) is not an exclusive possession of our species but a lucid quality of the biosphere itself—a quality in which we, along with the oaks and the spiders, steadily participate.

With the audacity of its vision and the luminosity of its prose, Becoming Animal sets a new benchmark for the human appraisal of our place in the whole.

DAVID ABRAM is an ecologist, anthropologist, and philosopher who lectures widely around the world. He is the award-winning author of Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology, and The Spell of the Sensuous. His essays on the cultural causes and consequences of environmental turmoil have been published in numerous magazines, scholarly journals and anthologies. David is co-founder and director of the Alliance for Wild Ethics (AWE); he lives with his family in the foothills of the southern Rockies.of Ways of Seeihttp://www.wildethics.org/ AQUI MAS COMMENTS...


David Abram's New Book - Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology

Thursday August 26, 2010

I have begun reading a wonderful book, David Abram's Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology. No book I have ever encountered does as good a job of describing what it is like to be fully aware of our immersion in the field of consciousness that is our world. It may well be the most powerful literary corrective that has yet appeared to the soul killing cultural autism that defines the modern world.

I want to completely immerse myself in it, but between being in the middle of a move, the attention generated by the New Yorker article on the Kochs, and the madness generated by cruel bigots over the proposed Islamic Cultural Center in New York, I am making slow progress. So while I will write a review after I've done reading it, I want to recommend it enthusiastically based only on reading the first few chapters. I think it is a must read for people interested in plumbing the deeper implications of being Pagan.

Abram earlier wrote The Spell of the Sensuous, one of the most magickal books on our perceptions of the natural world that I had ever encountered. It was one of those books that changes the way everything looks after its message is absorbed. That book came out in 1997, and I have been waiting for another from him, always wondering whether it could possibly be as powerful as his first.

It sure seems to be.

Abram obviously writes only when he has something serious to impart, and he does so with a breathtaking beauty in style and impact. I won't write more about this book till I've had the pleasure of finishing it. But don't wait for my final opinion. Get it now!

And for those who think I like politics too much - this is NOT a political book. It is something much much deeper and better than that.

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Meica abAwen
August 26, 2010 5:54 PM

Damnit. There goes my budget.

Marlon Hartshorn
August 27, 2010 9:22 AM

I got the Becoming Animal book last night at the bookstore, they had 2 copies of it! I also picked up a great Smithsonian book on Herbs. I was reading it last night as I fell asleep & it is quite interesting, I like the way Mr. Abrams writes about nature and the psyche, I'm excited about finishing it soon.

mouseytalons
August 27, 2010 10:15 AM

Hi Gus, and All,
I have not read Becoming Animal, however, when I finish Natural Magick by Sally Dubat, I will buy this one for some good reading. I also recommend the Green Pharmacy for those interrested in Natural Remedies and their history, it's quite interresting. I read it about 10-15 years ago, it was a bit dry, but I learned alot. Enjoy.
Blessings.



Read more: http://blog.beliefnet.com/apagansblog/2010/08/david-abrams-new-book---becoming-animal-an-earthly-cosmology.html#ixzz0zhFlXOgf



sinopsis

As the climate veers toward catastrophe, the innumerable losses cascading through the biosphere make vividly evident the need for a metamorphosis in our relation to the living land. For too long we’ve inured ourselves to the wild intelligence of our muscled flesh, taking our primary truths from technologies that hold the living world at a distance. David Abram’s writing undermines this distance, drawing readers ever closer to their animal senses in order to explore, from within, the elemental kinship between the human body and the breathing Earth.

The shape-shifting of ravens, the eloquence of shadows, a tree’s felt experience of photosynthesis, the erotic nature of gravity: all have their place in Abram’s investigation. He shows that from the awakened perspective of the human animal, awareness (or mind) no longer seems an exclusive possession of our species but is instead a lucid quality of the biosphere itself—a quality in which, along with the oaks and the spiders, we all participate.

With the audacity of its vision and the luminosity of its prose, Becoming Animal sets a new benchmark for the human appraisal of our place in the whole



Product Description

David Abram’s first book, The Spell of the Sensuous—hailed as “revolutionary” by the Los Angeles Times, as “daring and truly original” by Science—has become a classic of environmental literature. Now Abram returns with a startling exploration of our human entanglement with the rest of nature. As the climate veers toward catastrophe, the innumerable losses cascading through the biosphere make vividly evident the need for a metamorphosis in our relation to the living land. For too long we’ve inured ourselves to the wild intelligence of our muscled flesh, taking our primary truths from technologies that hold the living world at a distance. This book subverts that distance, drawing readers ever deeper into their animal senses in order to explore, from within, the elemental kinship between the body and the breathing Earth. The shapeshifting of ravens, the erotic nature of gravity, the eloquence of thunder, the pleasures of being edible: all have their place in Abram’s investigation. He shows that from the awakened perspective of the human animal, awareness (or mind) is not an exclusive possession of our species but a lucid quality of the biosphere itself—a quality in which we, along with the oaks and the spiders, steadily participate. With the audacity of its vision and the luminosity of its prose, Becoming Animal sets a new benchmark for the human appraisal of our place in the whole.




Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology
Drawing from and expanding on spiritual themes and environmental concerns addressed in his 1995 book The Spell of the Sensuous, ecologist and philosopher (and practicing magician) Abram decries mankind’s treatment of, and callous disregard for, the world. Though his prose often veers into the opaque, the author’s message is clear: people are overly estranged from the land and increasingly incapable of acknowledging the symbiosis and reciprocity between their bodies and the earth. Travel across land by car or over land by air insulates man from the “enlivening pleasure” of contact with the world, a physical and emotional distance made worse by a vanishing oral culture of storytelling and a modern-day reliance on the Internet that short-circuits the link “between our senses and the sensuous earth.” Abram’s perception of the world as a living, breathing entity, where gravity is erotic, light has an audible quality, shadows possess volume and man ought to be “embedded carnally” with nature might be improbably abstract for many. But his poetic plea for awareness of the world’s needs will strike a resonant chord with most. (Aug.)




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