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Rethinking Humans and/as Animals: The Art of Shape-Shifting

Rethinking Humans and/as Animals: The Art of Shape-Shifting

Chapter:
(p.211) 13 Rethinking Humans and/as Animals: The Art of Shape-Shifting
Source:
The Distressed Body
Author(s):
Drew Leder
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226396248.003.0014

This chapter explores the ability and desire of the embodied self to “shape-shift”—that is, to experience from within the capacities of animals, or natural phenomena like trees and mountains. Shape-shifting is discussed insofar as it manifests in a broad range of cultural domains, including children’s play, mythico-religious iconography, spiritual practice, fashion, sports, the performing arts, popular movies, and so on. It is all around us, though often not recognized as such. This potential for shape-shifting is found not only in our evolutionary history and biological kinships, but the phenomenology of the lived body. Our own powers are explored, expanded and transformed through our communion with the non-human world. Sadly, to a degree this has been overwhelmed and displaced by our focus on merging with our own human-made technologies. The chapter calls for a reclaiming of an intimate, embodied, and healing relation to the natural world.

Keywords:   embodiment, shapeshifting, animals, nature, mythology, religion, healing, phenomenology, technology, environment

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