David Abram – Between the Human Animal and the Animate Earth: The Ecology of Wonder

With cultural ecologist and geo-philosopher David Abram, we’ll explore some vivid experiences of interspecies communication and shapeshifting, with an ear for what such mind-bending moments of carnal confusion and entanglement reveal about language, about eros, about the intimacy between the human animal and the animate earth. Many of us sense that a new shape of the sacred is struggling to be born at this teetering moment on the planet. We intuit that this new/old shape of the sacred has something to do with the muscled intelligence of our dancing bodies, and with the imagination that churns between our bodies and the breathing land.

But since your body is curiously different from mine, and since all of our smooth-skinned bodies are weirdly different from the bodies of spiders spinning their webs, or from the body of an tawny owl hunkered on the branch of an old oak (or from the gnarled flesh of the oak itself, eating the sunlight with its leaves while slurping up water through its roots), so each of us creatures experiences this same biosphere from our own angle, through our unique combination of senses, according to the style of our particular flesh. How, then, can we speak without flattening this outrageous multiplicity of intersecting intelligences? By what poetics might we give voice to this earth composed of interpenetrating worlds within worlds within worlds? A simple conviction compels us, a kind of animal faith: that we are human only in contact, and conviviality, with what is not human.

David Abram – cultural ecologist, geophilosopher, and performance artist – is the author of Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology, and The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-than-Human World.  Hailed as “revolutionary” by the Los Angeles Times, as “daring” and “truly original” by Science, David’s work has been catalytic for the emergence of several new disciplines, including the burgeoning field of Ecopsychology. His essays on the cultural causes and consequences of environmental disarray are published in numerous magazines, scholarly journals, and anthologies.  A recipient of many honors, including the international Lannan Literary Award for Nonfiction, David most recently held the international Arne Naess Chair in Global Justice and Ecology at the University of Oslo. David is Creative Director of the Alliance for Wild Ethics (AWE), a coalition working to ease the spreading devastation of the earth through the place-based, re-diversification of culture.