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 Abram 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 inured ourselves to the wild intelligence of our muscled flesh, taking our primary truths from technologies that hold the living world at a distance. This book subverts that distance, drawing readers ever deeper into their animal senses in order to explore, from within, the elemental kinship between the body and the breathing Earth.
The shapeshifting of ravens, the erotic nature of gravity, the eloquence of thunder, the pleasures of being edible: all have their place in Abram's investigation. He shows that from the awakened perspective of the human animal, awareness (or mind) is not an exclusive possession of our species but a lucid quality of the biosphere itself - a quality in which we, along with the oaks and the spiders, steadily participate.
With the audacity of its vision and the luminosity of its prose, Becoming Animal sets a new benchmark for the human appraisal of our place in the whole.
FROM BOOKLIST: "How did our curious, inventive species go from worshiping nature to destroying it? A creative and visionary ecologist and philosopher, Abram addressed this complex and urgent question in his influential first book, The Spell of the Sensuous. In his second provocative, boldly recalibrating blend of stories, reflections, and discoveries, he offers perception-heightening insights into the causes of our disparagement of "sensuous reality," or "bodied existence," and the disastrous consequences of our increasing detachment from the living world as we funnel our attention to the cyber realm. As Abram identifies underappreciated aspects of our minds and bodies that evolved to enable us to respond with exquisite sensitivity to our surroundings, he tells extraordinary tales of his encounters with wildlife from whales to ravens, illuminates the planet's myriad forms of sentient life, and elucidates the significance of oral, storytelling cultures. In addition to writing with poetic precision about sensory experience—his analysis of shadows and life's reciprocity are phenomenal feats of observation and eloquence—he also draws on his adventures as an itinerant sleight-of-hand magician and apprentice to indigenous shamans to forge an inspirited physics of being. We can’t "restore" nature, Abram writes, without "restorying" life, hence his prodigious, transfixing, and rectifying "earthly cosmology.""
— Donna Seaman, Booklist (starred review)