...David Abram’s book the Spell of the Sensuous. Abram suggests that with the development of written language, humankind gradually began to lose the ability to “read” the landscape. Tangible ecological literacy was replaced with increasingly abstract forms of cognition. We could only gain information by reading books, instead of from birds and trees and and dirt.
Here’s a typically excellent excerpt from that opening chapter:"In keeping with the popular view of shamanism as a tool for personal transcendence, the most sophisticated definition of “magic” that now circulates through the American counterculture is “the ability or power to alter one’s consciousness at will.” There is no mention made of any reason for altering one’s state of consciousness. Yet in tribal cultures that which we call “magic” takes all of its meaning from the fact that, in an indigenous and oral context, humans experience their own intelligence as simply one form of awareness among many others. The traditional magician cultivates an ability to shift out of his or her common state of consciousness precisely in order to make contact with other species on their own terms. Only by temporarily shedding the accepted perceptual logic of his or her culture can the shaman hope to enter into a rapport with the multiple nonhuman sensibilities that animate the local landscape. It is this, we might say, that defines a shaman: the ability to readily slip out of the perceptual boundaries that demarcate his or her particular culture-boundaries reinforced by social customs, taboos, and, most important, the common speech or language-in order to make contact with, and learn from, the other powers in the land. Shamanic magic is precisely this heightened receptivity to the meaningful solicitations–songs, cries, and gestures–of the larger, more-than-human field."
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
The Spell of the Sensuous
Posted by Rob Pugh at 10/04/2005 07:36:00 AM