Glen Mazis & David Abram discuss embodied ecology

Last year I was invited to host the ecology thread for the 2018 Embodiment Conference. Who would I recommend to speak on the subject of embodied ecology? Two thinkers immediately came to mind who have been a huge influence on my own work: Glen Mazis & David Abram. This podcast brings them together in a fascinating dialogue. After a brief introduction, I sit back to enjoy a journey through embodied ecology guided by these poetic philosophers. The core theme is, I think, participation. Glen points out that “The world is in your body and you’re feeling what it’s telling you”. David develops that idea with his suggestion that “to be a body is to be entangled, enfolded and infused with so many other bodies, most of which are not human”.

Both of them are fascinated with imagination and language. David points out that “our bodies are imagining the world constantly … Imagination is an act of the sensing body itself, all the time. We are creatively adding to to what is immediately given in the world”. Glen develops this idea when he speaks of how poetry is “a way of using language that tells you, no, you can’t stay just in the web of words, you’ve to go back to your fleshly experience”.

Glen and David explore many of the topics I’ve touched on in this blog – Merleau-Ponty, deep ecology, embodied knowing – and then follow the path into sensuality, language, climate change and eco-trauma. David beautifully expresses the pain: “To taste the world with our creaturely senses all open and awake is to feel a world that it is filled with wounds”. Glen identifies the danger here: “There’s the cycle of hurt and violation … that takes you further away from the resources you need”. But this source of pain is also the root of healing. For David “that edge of grief and pain is just a threshold, and if we step thorough that threshold without flinching from it we come into a world of wonders”.

We all agree that nature connection, opening “to the more-than-human world is the path to healing”. This is a very familiar route for some of us, but as Glen points out, it can be a rough walk and many people will need support along the way. However, he adds, “As soon as they open themselves, it’ll be self-affirming because the world is a nourishing place”.

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4 thoughts on “Glen Mazis & David Abram discuss embodied ecology

  1. Pingback: The Decade of Embodiment | Body Mind Place

  2. Hello Adrian,

    What a thrill to discover your blog Body Mind Place and references to David Abram and Glen Mazis as well as a link to your moderation of their conversation. I encountered David’s writing more than a decade ago and and while I was aware of phenomenology, his books resonated with me acutely and I began to look more deeply into this perspective. As a long time Zen student I soon encountered Glen’s writing about Merleau-Ponty. To find them both in conversation was a highpoint of my week.

    One of the many points that leaped out at me in Glen’s remarks was about experiencing a depth of voluminosity in the process of perception. It reminds me of William Blake’s statement in Auguries of Innocence about “seeing a world in a grain of sand”. As a photographer I know that Minor White and Frederick Sommer were influenced by Blake as well, and it show up clearly in Sommer’s statement that that “In total acceptance almost everything becomes a revelation.” In addition to pursuing a contemplative awareness in my photography I have been exploring this perspective in writing and had an essay published this summer that addresses phenomenology directly. I have also written about photographers Minor White and John Daido Loori and the role of zen in their practice of photography. You can find links to all 3 essays on my website.

    I look forward to checking your blog site regularly.

    Best wishes,


  3. Hi Roy, I’m delighted that you enjoyed this conversation. It was a thrill for me to act as moderator and I’ve been fortunate enough to stay in touch with both David and Glen. I’m sure to be writing more posts more about their work.
    I wonder if you’ve read Minor White’s essay ‘Octave of Prayer’? It’s in the catalogue of an exhibition of the same name from 1972.

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