Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Answer is in Physical Reality, not a Utopian Vision

the practice of realignment with reality can hardly afford to be utopian. It cannot base itself upon a vision hatched in our heads and then projected into the future. Any approach to our current problems that aims us toward a mentally envisioned future implicitly holds us within the oblivion of linear time. It holds us, that is, within the same illusory dimension that enabled us to neglect and finally to forget the land around us. By projecting the solution somewhere outside of the perceivable present, it invites our attention away from the sensuous surroundings, induces us to dull our sense, yet again, on behalf of a mental ideal.

David Abram, Spell of the Sensuous, p 272

Example of Symbols

If I say that I live in the "United States" or in "Canada," in "British Columbia" or in "New Mexico," I situate myself within a purely human set of coordinates. I say very little or nothing about the earthly place that I inhabit, but simply establish my temporary location within a shifting matrix of political, economic, and civilizational forces struggling to maintain themselves, today, largely at the expense of the animate earth. The great danger is that I, and many other good persons, may come to believe that our breathing bodies really inhabit these abstractions, and that we will lend our lives more to consolidating, defending, or bewailing the fate of these ephemeral entities other than to nurturing and defending the actual places that physically sustain us.

David Abram, Spell of the Sensuous, P 265

"We are human only in contact, and conviviality, with what is not human"

From an animistic perspective, the clearest source of all this distress, both physical and psychological, lies in the aforementioned violence needlessly perpetrated by our civilization on the ecology of the planet; only by alleviating the latter will we be able to heal the former. While this may sound at first like a simple statement of faith, it makes eminent and obvious sense as soon as we acknowledge our thorough dependence upon the countless other organisms with whom we have evolved. Caught up in a mass of abstractions, our attention hypnotized by a host of human-made technologies that only reflect us back to ourselves, it is all too easy for us to forget our carnal inherence in a more-than-human matrix of sensations and sensibilities. our bodies have formed themselves in delicate reciprocity with the manifold textures, sounds, and shapes of an animate earth-- our eyes have evolved in subtle interaction with other eyes, as our ears are attuned by their very structure to the howling of wolves and the honking of geese. To shut ourselves off from these other voices, to continue by our lifestyles to condemn these other sensibilities to the oblivion of extinction, is to rob our own senses of their integrity, and to rob our minds of their coherence. We are human only in contact, and conviviality, with what is not human.

David Abram, Spell of the Sensuous, p. 22