David Abram is a magician, a cultural ecologist and philosopher who lectures and teaches widely on several continents. He is the Director for the Alliance of Wild Ethics; a consortium of individuals and organizations working to ease the spreading devastation of the animate earth through a rapid transformation of culture. The Alliance of Wild Ethics employs the arts, often in tandem with the natural sciences, to provoke deeply felt shifts in the human experience of nature. Motivated by a love for the more-than-human collective of life, and for human life as an integral part of that wider collective, they work to revitalize local, face-to-face community – and to integrate our communities perceptually, practically, and imaginatively into the earthly bioregions that surround and support them.
Abram presents a compelling argument in eloquent fashion with two major books, beginning in 1996 with “The spell of the sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-than-Human World” and continuing this with “Becoming animal: an earthly cosmology” in 2010. His argument, in short, is that our experiential embodiment within our earthly ecosystem greatly exceeds, and in many ways enables and prefigures, our distinctively human qualities of language, cognition, abstract thought, and so on. Animals, plants, the whole complex ecosystem of which we are a part, all speak, think, and are intelligent; we have become largely inured to these animate presences of the earth as we have become “spellbound” by our own creations of text, computer screen, theory, idea, and so on. Thus much of his ambition is to reawaken the sensuous presence of the earth to us in its depth and carnality, and in so doing remind us how all the extremes which humanity has gone to are ultimately derivative from the more-than-human corporeality that precedes us.
Since we are limited creatures thoroughly embedded in this early cosmos, wild ethics is encouraging us to realize that we can encounter things only from our limited angle or perspective. We never experience another entity in its totality – we can never completely penetrate or plumb the secrets of another being. The ethics within the earthly cosmology is understood as “a living field of relationships between beings.” To know and be a part of the interconnected living relationships between beings is to encounter the world with our senses.