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The Spell of the Sensuous « Andrew Pulliam

The Spell of the Sensuous

I’ve been reading The Spell of the Sensuous by David Abram, which I’m finding to be pretty remarkable.  Jenny read one of his other books, Becoming Animal, and I was a little bit skeptical, just based on my preconception of the “welcome to the embrace of mother earth” sort of vibe.  I hate the word “Gaia” for example; don’t really know why.  Even its association with the ancient Greeks doesn’t salvage it for me.  Maybe it’s the sense of personification of the idea.  I prefer an account of nature in the fields and flows vocabulary rather than the mother, father, familial paradigm.  Anyway, Abram’s book is interesting because he immediately goes into phenomenology and language, giving really lucid readings of Husserl and Merleau-Ponty (two figures in the cannon of western philosophy that I don’t know well, the latter being particularly hard to read).  His writing is clear and concise, and he is good at networking ideas into a broader coherent picture, without painting with a heavy handed too-large brush.  Usually when people bring many ideas under the same roof it turns into a huge hippy love-fest, and nothing is really worth talking about because it’s all the same.  Words and naming are a significant issue, and he gives them elegant treatment.



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