The Spell of the Sensuous

David Abram

Abram, a sleight-of-hand magician and ecologist who’s spent lengths of time living with indigenous peoples in Indonesia and Nepal, is uniquely placed to write this landmark re-appraisal of animism as a valid worldview. His keen eye for perceptual subtleties, his grounding in the phenomenology of Edward Husserl and Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and his bewitching way with words, all serve him beautifully in his quest to breathe fresh air into this approach to life that civilization never seems to tire of discarding. His central “big idea” is that animism is an irrepressible part of human experience, and the “magical” perceptions taken for granted by foraging tribes have been bound up by civilization in the written word. His story of the key part played by language and writing in our gradual journey away from the lived experience of bodily engagement with nature is fascinating.

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