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Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology (2010)

by David Abram(Favorite Author)
4.09 of 5 Votes: 2
0375421718 (ISBN13: 9780375421716)
review 1: This is one of my Top Twenty books of non-fiction. I couldn't say enough great things about this book if I tried forever. There are so many phrases highlighted in my Kindle version that it really pops! I even bought a hard copy of it after reading the digital because I knew that I would return to it over and over. Even if you're already in tune with Nature, this book will shift your perceptions further. LOVE IT!
review 2: David Abram is clearly a very intelligent, deeply wise, and uniquely experienced human being. He has clearly read his philosophy to the point of profound insight, and yet experienced life in the wild and within indigenous cultures to that same point of realisation. I have always been fascinated by people who sit on the fence between these two
... moreseemingly irreconcilable worlds and attempt to synthesize some new path or perception.The Spell of the Sensuous is perhaps the best example of such an approach ever written. It is a remarkable book, dazzling in the way in which it marries exegesis of hardcore philosophical texts, with diegesis of many indigenous cultures. Far from being a dry analytical text, or New Age poncing about, the book is packed with observations that would satisfy both the open-minded intellectual and the tribal elder. No small feat, when you think about it.When I read this book years ago, as a recent philosophy graduate on a long-distance hike, I felt as if he was speaking to me directly. I have taken it everywhere with me, as if it were scripture, ever since that time. So many years passed, and finally a second book appears. I was anxious about reading it: how could you follow Spell of the Sensuous? why the awful New Age title? what more is there to say?Well, having finished it after a long, careful reading, I would say it is another incredible achievement. It feels necessary, because although it doesn't contain much more substance than the first, his unique anthropological insight is directed at more recent developments in technology that desperately need to be addressed. He also tells some wonderful stories to support his ideas, and shows us how hard-won his wisdom was.He also absolutely infuriates me. Yes, that's right, he does my head in. Because as important as I believe this book is, as much as it should be read by every schoolchild, stocked by every library, and broadcast on every screen in documentary format, hardly anyone will ever read it.I mentioned David Abram on Facebook recently, encouraging everyone to read his work, and only one person responded: "Yeah, I know him. I hate that guy!" It turns out he had started reading Becoming Animal, but gave up in disgust at the boring, flowery language and complicated theorising. I have to admit, he's hardly trying to reach a broad audience. If you are happy grappling with the densely intellectual statements, then the poetic flights of fancy might drive you crazy, and if you love his accounts of wild encounters and shamanic rituals, you may still be left wondering what the hell he's talking about the rest of the time.I enjoyed most of his efforts at poetry, although I found myself dreading the next instance of: "the consanguinity of the first leaves of spring, the feather of an eagle, the tuft of fur on a panda's armpit" etc. And there is a lot of repetition, as reviews below have often repeated. It is unfair to say that he wrote it "with a thesaurus in the other hand," as one reviewer put it, because I believe his writing is both carefully considered, and absolutely authentic and passionate.In summary, it is worth the effort. And if you don't read it, you have to read Spell of the Sensuous, which is easily the best work of anthropology and philosophy I have ever encountered. less
Reviews (see all)
This is a great intro to shamanism from a fairly grounded perspective.
My first tear-inducing ending in years. Marry me, Abram?
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