David Abram, “Becoming Animal”

“The claim that we live “on earth’s surface” implies that those clouds overhead are not themselves earthly powers, that the invisible depth in which they swim is an emptiness, a void continuous with the space between the planets.  If we dwell “on the earth,” then those clouds are merely part of the flotsam and jetsam of space, with only a tenuous neighborly link to the surface on which we stand.

…Unless of course, the clouds themselves are a part of the turning earth.  In which case I am not really standing on the surface of this world, but am submerged within a transparent layer of this planet, an invisible stratum of the earth that extends far above those clouds….

Which indeed it is.  The air is not a random bunch of gases simply drawn to the earth by the earth’s gravity, but an elixir generated by the soils, the oceans, and the numberless organisms that inhabit this world, each creature exchanging certain ingredients for others as it inhales and exhales, drinking the sunlight with our leaves or filtering the water with our gills, all of us contributing to the composition of this phantasmagoric brew, circulating it steadily between us from its substance.  It is endemic to the earth as the sandstone beneath my boots.  Perhaps we should add the letter i to our planet’s name and call it “Eairth,” in order to remind ourselves that the “air” is entirely a part of the eairth, and the i, the I or self, is wholly immersed in that fluid element.

The gilt-edged clouds overhead are not plunging westward as the planet rolls beneath them because they themselves are a part of the rolling Eairth.  Creatures of the embracing air, of an invisible but nonetheless material layer of this planet, the clouds accompany the Eairth as it turns, their shapeshifting bodies drifting this way and that with the winds.  And we, imbibing and strolling through the same air, do not then live on the eairth but in it.  We are enfolded within it, permeated, carnally immersed in the depths of this breathing planet.”

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