Each year, the Orion Book Award honors five books that deepen our connection to the natural world in fresh and surprising ways. Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology, by David Abram, recognizes that notions of human separateness are false in the first place.
Consider your body. Consider the flick of your eyelids, the slope of your shoulders, the humidity between your toes. Consider gravity’s pull on your skeleton, the powers alive in the muscles of your thighs. Consider the atmospheric trading post inside your chest, and the small winds, just now, building there.
Meditation on the body, on the validity of felt experience, is the subject of David Abram’s Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology—an intricately textured, deep breath of a book that blurs the boundaries between human and animal, mind and earth. For Abram, nothing is inert—tree roots are toes squelching mud after a rain—and every border is permeable. “The human body is not a closed or static object,” he writes, “but an open, unfinished entity utterly entwined with the soils, waters, and winds that move through it—a wild creature whose life is contingent upon the multiple other lives that surround it, and the shifting flows that surge through it.”