Read The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-Than-Human World by David Abram Free Online
Book Title: The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-Than-Human World|
The author of the book: David Abram
ISBN 13: 9780679776390
Format files: PDF, Epub, DOCx, TXT
The size of the: 391 KB
Date of issue: February 25th 1997
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Read full description of the books The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-Than-Human World:
In Chinese medicine, disease is defined as that which goes against the Breath of Nature (Bian Hua變化). This statement begs the question: If human disease is that which goes against the breath, how are we going against the breath? Or more specifically, how did we get to this point of widespread cancer, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, allergies, and depression? David Abram's Spell of the Sensuous offers some important insight.
Once upon a time, humans were inherently tied to the land as hunter-gatherers – to survive they were required to follow the laws of nature and the land that they inhabited. With the advent of agriculture and the ability to store surplus grain and consequently generate wealth, a separation arose. No longer did man have to toil day in and day out for food and his survival, but with smart farming techniques and the eventual domestication of grain, the more wealthy could pursue intellectual pursuits: the creation of the aleph-beth emerged as a technology that could transmit some of these intellectual constructs.
Abram discusses the consequences of this gradual transformation from oral to written culture as a divorce from the embodied sensorial experience of time-space to a domain that is referent only to the human domain. “Only with the emergence of the phonetic alphabet, and its appropriation by the ancient Greeks [from the Hebrews who consciously did not encase the majestic air as written vowels] did the written images lose all evident ties to the larger field of expressive beings. Each image now came to have a strictly human referent: each letter was now associated purely with a gesture or sound of the human mouth.” (p.138, italicized comments mine). Instead of seeing language in everything around us – the birds, the wind, the trees, the earth itself – encapsulating speech into written words divides humans from the very world in which we depend on for our well-being. The written word is no longer a transient mutating form, but a fixed non-breathing non-living reference to be analyzed, discussed, and returned to for all time. In short, the written word divides us from nature because it is in and of itself completely unnatural; simply a construction, a technological advancement, of the human mind.
When I go to write something down, I do so to preserve the present moment so that in some future time it can again be accessed. But my words, no matter how poetic or successful at describing some part of a scene or mood must fail to express the entirety of the scene. The pure infinite nature of the present is incapable of being recorded in this linear, discrete fashion, exported into the future to be re-experienced. So language itself, and written language even more-so, is limited*.
Besides the wealth generation of agriculture, the invention of the phonetic written word can be seen as the grandmother of the technologies we enjoy today. But these technologies come at a price. Because they are invented for humans instead of for the world in which humans live, using these inventions inherently reinforces this division. In this way man can then manipulate the environment for his gain. Thus, man is not required to observe, much less follow, the breath of nature. Sometimes we do follow the breath, and we are healthy and vibrant. But often we go against the breath, and we develop diseases that ultimately kill us.
Abrams describes the healer's role (in shamanic cutures) existing at the edge of society, constantly nourishing the border between human beings and the other beings – the animate and seemingly inanimate creatures of nature. For it is through this membrane that nature communicates with us, and where the answers lie to cure disease and live in the balance that is necessary to sustain life.
Read information about the authorDavid Abram (born June 24, 1957) is an American philosopher, cultural ecologist, and performance artist, best known for his work bridging the philosophical tradition of phenomenology with environmental and ecological issues. He is the author of Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology, published in 2010 and of The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-than-Human World, for which he received, among other awards, the international Lannan Literary Award for Nonfiction. Abram is founder and creative director of the Alliance for Wild Ethics (AWE); his essays on the cultural causes and consequences of ecological disarray have appeared often in such journals as Orion, Environmental Ethics, Parabola, Tikkun, and The Ecologist, as well as in numerous anthologies.
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