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Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology [Paperback]

David Abram
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
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Book Description

6 Sep 2011

A PEN/E. O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award Runner-up

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 he 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 ignored the wild intelligence of our bodies, taking our primary truths from technologies that hold the living world at a distance. Abram’s writing subverts 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 erotic nature of gravity, the eloquence of thunder, the pleasures of being edible: all have their place in this book.

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Frequently Bought Together

Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology + The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-Than-Human World + Wild: An Elemental Journey
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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Books (6 Sep 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375713697
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375713699
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 13.5 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 61,813 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why this is an important book 28 Mar 2011
Other reviewers (see the Amazon.com site) have supplied good reasons why this is a great book. I'd like to mention why it's also an important one. The context is, pretty obviously, ongoing and deepening ecocrisis. A big part of that crisis results from the attitudes and values driving our actions, and a big part of those consist of failing to recognise and respect the value of the natural world beyond its usefulness to us.
This is where Abram's book comes in, because he refuses to follow the mass of so-called environmentalists who have bought into the anthropocentric and instrumentalist paradigm. Lusting after mainstream corporate and political acceptance, most of the big environmental NGO's and many 'green' spokespersons have sold the soul of environmentalism: nature's intrinsic value, and our finally utter dependence on it. With so many false ecological friends out there, Abram's animism is a necessary and urgent rediscovery of the kind of relationships we must learn (relearn, really) to develop with the natural world if we, and much of it, is to have any chance to survive.
So don't be fooled into thinking it can be put in a box of optional or fluffy stuff called 'spiritual'. Abram's world is profoundly material, including all its wonders and powers, and Becoming Animal is a powerful political statement.

Patrick Curry (Author of Ecological Ethics: An Introduction)
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57 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb book 5 Mar 2011
David Abram is a true magician, superbly skilled in both slight of hand magic and in the literary art of awakening us to the superabundant wonders of the natural world. He is also without doubt one of America's greatest nature writers who ably follows in the footsteps of Muir,Thoreau and Leopold, fructifying their legacy with rich infusions from the writings of Merleau Ponty, Husserl and Heidegger - the masters and creators of phenomenology who taught us to pay attention to lived experience as it happens in its very happening.

This book is the long-awaited sequel to his earlier masterpiece, The Spell of the Sensuous, which restores to modern consciousness the ancient animistic sensibility that all things are redolent with life and meaning - that everything is saturated with soul: mountains, forests, and even manufactured objects like cars and buildings. The essential achievement of Spell was for me the revelation of how all beings, living and non-living, palpably bring us home to the pulsing heart of the world when we listen to their long-stifled voices - when we unpack their hidden messages with the intuitive power that lies slumbering in our animal bodies.

In Becoming Animal, Abram carries us off on new and enlivening journeys into the radically exciting possibilities of this animistic style of perception, deftly validating his dextrous explorations with profound insights from philosophy, ecology and his sometimes hair raising experiences in the great wild landscapes that infuse him again and again with deep inspiration and a vibrant sense of the real.

This is a book of such transformative potential that it needs to be read twice in quick succession to get the full benefit.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars shame 28 Dec 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I enjoyed Abram's first book The Spell of the Sensuous and was keen to read An Earthly Cosmology. Unfortunately I found the flowery prose got in the way for me. There were some good quotable sections, but mostly it felt too self indulgent, a huge shame.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Glorious 19 Dec 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A real inspiration to live this world with senses wide open, so order this book, turn off your laptop and go and experience the real world.
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