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Winner of the Lannan Award for Nonfiction
David Abram's award-winning work of natural philosophy is already transforming debates at the forefront of environmental studies, psychology, anthropology, literary theory, and philosophy. Praised for "combining poetic passion with intellectual rigor and daring," (Lannan Award citation), The Spell of the Sensuous explores the earthly, ecological dimensions of sensory experience and of language. Abram draws upon sources as diverse as Balinese shamanism, the web-weaving of spiders, the perceptual investigations of Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and Navajo cosmology to reveal the subtle dependence of human cognition on the more-than-human natural world. Contrasting the spoken stories of diverse indigenous, oral cultures with the styles of discourse common to literate civilization, The Spell of the Sensuous demonstrates the astonishing impact that literacy, and the alphabet, have had upon our human experience of the animate earth.
"Long awaited, revolutionary...This book ponders the violent disconnection of the body from the natural world and what this means about how we live and die in it."--The Los Angeles Times
"A truly original work. Abram...puts forth his daring hypothesis with a poetic vigor and argumentative insight that stimulate his consideration of the technological commonplace.... With Abram anthropology becomes a bridge between science and its others."--Science
"A tour-de-force of sustained intelligence, broad scholarship, and a graceful prose style that has produced one of the most interesting books about nature published during the past decade."--Terra Nova
"This is a landmark book. Scholars will doubtless realize its brilliance, but they may overlook the most important part of Abram's achievement: he has written the best instruction manual yet for becoming fully human. I walked outside when I was done and the world was a different place."--Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature
Table of Contents
1. The Ecology of Magic
2. Philosophy on the Way to Ecology
3. The Flesh of Language
4. Animism and the Alphabet
5. In the Landscape of Language
6. Time, Space, and the Eclipse of the Earth
7. The Forgetting and Remembering of the Air
Coda: Turning Inside Out