David Abram – Ecologist, Anthropologist, Philosopher & Author

The Center for the Arts and SYRCL\’s Wild & Scenic Arts and Lectures present
Thursday, November 8, 7:30PM
$18 SYRCL & Center members,
$20 general admission; $10 student

I cannot imagine another book that so gently and so persuasively alters how we look at ourselves. – Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods and The Nature Principle

SYRCL\’s Wild & Scenic Arts and Lectures and The Center for the Arts present David Abram for an engaging evening of discussion, readings from his newest book, and magic!   David Abram is a philosopher, cultural ecologist, sleight of hand magician, and performance artist, best known for his work bridging the philosophical tradition of phenomenology with environmental and ecological issues.

David Abram is the author of two books, Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology (Pantheon, 2010), and The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-than-Human World (Vintage, 1997).  He has been the recipient of various awards and fellowships, including the international Lannan Literary Award for nonfiction.  His essays on the cultural causes and consequences of environmental disarray are published in numerous magazines, scholarly journals, and anthologies.  Founder of the Alliance for Wild Ethics (AWE), he lives with his family in the foothills of the southern Rockies.

Abram is founder and creative director of the Alliance for Wild Ethics ; his essays on the cultural causes and consequences of ecological disarray have appeared often in such journals as Orion, Environmental Ethics, Parabola, Tikkun, and The Ecologist, as well as in numerous anthologies.

The evening will also include the premiere performance of a short play, World Fire Wake, by author and poet Dale Pendell, with music by Arthur Gould. Pendell explains that many cultures have myths of the World Fire – that the world has burned before. Through the play, the author provides an opportunity for old gods to speak on global warming and human addiction to speed and growth.  As part of the performance, the musical group Mesmerhythm will provide accompaniment with Arthur Gould on the electric cello, joined by Jim Rodney on the electric guitar and synthesizer and Robert Trice on the harmonica, to provide jazzy improvisations and chordal reveries.

How monotonous our speaking becomes when we speak only to ourselves! And how insulting to the other beings – to foraging black bears and twisted old cypresses – that no longer sense us talking to them, but only about them, as though they were not present in our worldSmall wonder that rivers and forests no longer compel our focus or our fierce devotion. For we walk about such entities only behind their backs, as though they were not participant in our lives. Yet if we no longer call out to the moon slipping between the clouds, or whisper to the spider setting the silken struts of her web, well, then the numerous powers of this world will no longer address us – and if they still try, we will not likely hear them. –  – From Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology by David Abram


  1. I really want to love this conversation, and there is certainly some sweetness to it. Mostly though it seems like a couple of college professors in the early seventies smoking weed for the first time and sowing the seeds of a future commune.
    Forgive me but the narcissistic pleasure that these fellows experience from their own insights get to be difficult to watch. For a much simplified version, free of all the scaffolding of philosophical structures, check out Eckhart Tolle. For a few precise words that drop right in, listen to David Whyte.

  2. Ok, one more comment: Yes there is absolutely grief at the recognition of having left our animal being. Perhaps more importantly though, is the fear that if we fully embrace the animal part of our nature we will become ravenous, unruly beasts. This fear has been reinforced through multitudes of moral restrictions throughout the millennia and is now hard-wired into the brain (psyche) of most of humanity. Contacting and reconciling our animal urges is much more daunting than the still important process of grieving the loss of our sensuality or even facing our death.

  3. Some years ago when I began my Environmental Studies doctoral program at Antioch New England, we read Spell of the Sensuous and were treated to a lecture by David Abram. As he conversed with us, he was playing with a deck of cards — his sleight of hands skills. It was phenomenal. Those cards flowed like water through his hands, and he was able to do his amazing “tricks” as he was speaking.
    Now we have this fascinating interview. I have to wonder how many others absorbing the two men in conversation perceived the other conversations in progress. Fascinating!

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