Handbook of Contemporary Animism


Animism in Performance





Auctor, -trix



Nature in the Active Voice

Val Plumwood



Animist Realism in Literature

Graham Harvey



Fae:rie in Hypermodernity

Patrick Curry



Objects of Otaku

Casey Brienza



Performing the Animate Universe

Olu Taiwo



Incantory Riff for Global Medicine

Ronald Grimes


Capitula 35-36.



Nature in the Active Voice

Val[erie] Plumwood


p. 442 environmental philosophy

"human-centredness weaves a dangerous set of illusions about the human condition right into the logic of ... basic conceptual structures (see Plumwood 2002)."

"There have been some great recent contributions to environmental philosophy (for example Mathews 2003, 2005)".

Plumwood 2002 = Valerie Plumwood : Environmental Culture. London : Routledge.

Mathews 2003 = Freya Mathews : For Love of Matter : a Contemporary Panpsychism. Albany : State Univ of NY Pr.

Mathews 2005 = Freya Mathews : Reinhabiting Reality : Towards a Recovery of Culture. Albany : State Univ of NY Pr.

p. 447 meaningless materialism

"Scientific reductionism assumes a mindless meaningless materialist universe".

"it is a serious mistake to identify science and rationality with materialist reductionism. More respectful forms of science are not only possible but are better forms of rationality.

This minimizing rationality ... is not materialism in the sense that it respects the material order or works generally in its favour, and in my view

it should not really be called "materialism" at all."

{Ought it to be designated "quasi-materialism" or (more descriptively) "pseudo-materialism"?}

pp. 447-8 instance of an assertion by a certain brand of semi-materialist

p. 447

"It ["nature" {including "human nature"?!}] couldn't have got[ten] there by itself. It needed a designer." {More praecisely, it could not have gotten thither in the circumstance of "a mindless meaningless materialist universe".}

{Christianity, being ultra-materialist, assumeth a universe inhaerently devoid meaningful mindfulness; but in the case of a mindful (godhood-inhabited, "pan-entheic") universe, it would naturally be meaningful in the sense of 'functioning co-operationally with the consciousness-principle'.}

p. 448

"A sufficiently stripped-down ... machine nature demands an external ... designer."

{The difficulty imagined may derive from a suppositious "stripping-down" of the universe to superfluity (unnecessariness); but in pan-entheism, where deities need a material universe to occupy, the material universe is not really "external" (just as a body is not superfluous, and thus not so very "external", to the soul occupying it).}

{This is similar to the body inhabited by a soul : it could hardly have lived to reach maturity without being occupied by a mind; but being occupied by a mind, it is naturally (i.e., as per its "nature", namely "human nature") caused to live and to mature.} {To assume a deity external to the observable universe is a metaphysics-bound result of assuming a need for a government external to the interests and will of the governed, i.e., to assume a need for tyranny -- such as is manifest in the all-too-familiar class-ruled, exploitative, "good old boy" British Empire.}

p. 448 inhibited forms of science

"Science has been busy generating wondrous narratives (usually told by the scientific community in very inhibited, mind-evacuated vocabularies, and in mutually censoring ways) ... (see Noble 2006)."

Noble 2006 = Denis Noble : The Music of Life : Biology Beyond the Genome. Oxford Univ Pr.

p. 453, n. 8 Orientalist "creation" of universe?

""Hinduism, Buddhism and Shintoism lack ... Christian {and other crypto-materialist pseudo-metaphysical} belief in the essential difference between creation and Creator" ([Deloria 2002]:129, quoting Ernest Benz)."

{Furthermore, in the Oriental cosmogonies, there is no "creatio ex nihilo". According to Taoist cosmogonies, there was always at least a "Former Heaven". According to the Puran.a-s, there is no particular "beginning", in that the universe is never reduced to less than S`es.a ('remnant, remainder'), whence each successive universe is regenerated by a process aequivalent to "tikkuwn <owlam" in H.asiydic Qabbalah.}

Deloria 2002 = Vine Deloria : Evolution, Creationism and Other Modern Myths. Golden (CO) : Fulcrum Publ.

{In the Taoist cosmology, the deities always needed a Heaven-combined-with-Earth wherein to reside; and according to the Vais.n.ava Puran.a-s, a primaeval ocean (manifestation of s`es.a), to float upon, was always needed by primaeval god Nara-ayana. This is rather unlike the <ibriy cosmogonies, where [even in the Qabbalah!] the material universe is considered as vacated/mimimized/reduced (s.ims.uwm) by the Godhead -- although even then some slight odor of sanctity is (according to the Qabbalah) persistent after such abandonment of this world and of its inhabitants, by the Godhead.}



Animist Realism in Literature

Graham Harvey


p. 455 a joke's producing of moks.a ('liberation')

"Tom Robbins's provocative assertion that ... "a joke in the wrong place at the wrong time can cause a leap in the consciousness that is liberating to the human spirit" (Purdon & Torrey 2011:35)."

{A koan of Zen/C^>an may be a joke intended to have a result of this nature.} {A friend of Terence McKenna, Tom Robbins described himself as a "Zen Hedonist". (See his autobiography TPP.)}

Purdon & Torrey 2011 = Liam O Purdon & Beef Torrey (edd.) : Conversations with Tom Robbins. Jackson (MS) : Univ Pr of MS.

TPP = Tom Robbins : Tibetan Peach Pie : a True Account of an Imaginative Life. NY : Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins Publ, 2014.

p. 455 "visions" of birds

[quoted from Vizenor 1965, p. 4] "The translations ... are the remembered shadows of the heard visions ... that walk with birds in the sky and sing".

{The "visions" referred to are dreams, and thus the "birds" are those seen and heard in the dreams.}

Vizenor 1965 = Gerald Robert Vizenor : Summer in the Spring : Ojibwe Lyric Poems and Tribal Stories. [reprinted 1981 by Nodin Pr (Minneapolis, MN)] AMERICAN INDIAN LITERATURE AND CRITICAL STUDIES SERIES, Vol 6. Univ of OK Pr (Norman).

{" In Summer in the Spring, Gerald Vizenor tells us how gichimakwa, great bear, serves as a means to bring the sun spirit to teach the Chippewa about the midewiwin (91-92). In the rituals of the Grand Medicine Society, bears serve as guides, barriers, the breaker of barriers, and guardians of portals to spiritual power. Great Bear could also restore life (Vizenor, Summer 91); the power of immortality and resurrection are specifically associated with the orders of the midewiwin. ... There are eight orders or degrees of membership in the Society: four earth and four sky (Dewdney 111-14, Johnston, Ojibwe Heritage 84, Landes 22)." (Barry, Nora Baker : "Postmodern Bears in the Texts of Gerald Vizenor".) https://www.questia.com/library/journal/1G1-94640672/postmodern-bears-in-the-texts-of-gerald-vizenor}

p. 456 korero ('explanations')

"Importantly, too, ... note Te Pakaka Tawhai's evocation of the continuously varying application of his people's

"korero tahito (ancient explanations)"

{This is an illiterate (or perhaps, jestingly obscene substitution) pronunciation/spelling : the correct word for 'antient' is /tawhito/ (M-PCD, p. 500); whereas the true meaning of /tahito/ is

'perineum of the anus' (M-PCD, p. 443).}

{implying, of course, the lambent tonguing of it}

in everyday as well as high ceremonial situations (Tawhai 2002:239)."

Tawhai 2002 = Te Pakaka Tawhai : "Maori Religion". In :- Graham Harvey (ed.) : Readings in Indigenous Religions. London : Continuum. pp. 238-49.

M-PCD = Edward Tregear : Maori-Polynesian Comparative Dictionary. Wellington : Lyon & Blair, 1891. http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scholarly/tei-TreMaor-c1-12.html

tawhito http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scholarly/tei-TreMaor-c1-12.html#n500

tahito http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scholarly/tei-TreMaor-c1-12.html#n443

p. 456 a mere duality of universes cannot suffice : a quaternity is required [occult, Qabbalah]

"As Viveiros de Castro says ... : "Virtually all attacks on Cartesian and other dualisms consider consider that two is already too much -- we need just one (one principle, one substance, one reality).

{Perhaps all recent extreme materialist systems might claim that there is only one universe, but all traditional metaphysics (based on experience of mystics/shamans) is definite in accepting more than merely one reality.}

As far as Amerindian cosmologies are concerned, it would appear that two is not enough" (2004:482)."

{Some 4 universes are required : causal, mental, astral, and material; or as otherwise designated : emanation, creation, formation, and making.}

Viveiros de Castro 2004 = E. B. Viveiros de Castro : "Exchanging Perspectives ... in Amerindian Ontologies". COMMON KNOWLEDGE 10.3:463-84.

pp. 456-9 Yoruba employment of mythology for animist realism; a Tsigany aequivalent

p. 456

""The deistic approach of the Yoruba is to absorb every new experience, departmentalize it and carry on ... . Thus Sango (Dispenser of Lightning) now chairmans

the Electricity Corporation

{say, in Heaven, corresponding to a National Electrical Power Authority on Earth},

Ogun (God of Iron) is the primal motor-mechanic {why not welder?} (Soyinka 1988:9)."

{How-be-it, because Ogun is (alike unto the dvergar of Norse myth) traditionally primarily the divine patron of [instead of tinkers] blacksmiths, it would have been more befitting to assign him [instead of repairmanship] chaimanship of a national smelting-foundery authority.}

p. 457

"Garuba ... contests the notions or regression or residualism, and proffers a

"manifestation of of an animist unconscious {As if there were such a thing! : in reality, animists are quite conscious of their own actions!}

{False! To assign a lightning-deity status in an Electricity Corporation must have been very much a conscious decision, made, in fact, after a canny discussion in its Board of Directors. (To be "unconscious", it must be something whereof persons are not consciously aware.)}

[operating] through a continual re-enchantment of the world" as a richer explanation (Garuba 2003:265, original emphasis). ...

[quoted from Garuba 2003, p. 267 :] Rather than "disenchantment," a persistant re-enchantment thus occurs, and the ... scientific ... appropriated and transformed into the mystical and magical. ...

Animism is often simply seen as belief in objects such as stones or trees or rivers for the simple reason that animist gods and spirits are located ... in objects ... . ...

{These are prime features of Classical Hellenic religion : of goddesses, such a Numphai inhabiting trees, and Nereides inhabiting brook-streams.}

p. 458

[quoted from Garuba 2003, p. 271, original emphasis :] Animnist culture thus opens up a whole new world of poaching possibilities, prepossessing the future ... by

laying claim to what is in the present is yet to be invented."

{read : "laying claim in the present to what is as-of-yet still to be invented"}

p. 459

"Ma`rquez ... (1970) is the preeminent example of magical realism, and within it

{The following example is, however, of materialist realism, and not of "magical realism". Actual magical realism would involve realistically describing events occurring in the dream-world.}

the effect of a magnet is exemplary of the "magic" ... :

[cf. supra p. 374 "Thales's assertion that all matter is alive, or "full of gods". He seems to have reached this conclusion by observing the attractive powers of rubbed amber and magnets".]

[quoted from Ma`rquez 1970, p. 9, with emphasis (italics) added in Garuba 2003] "Things have a life of their own," the gypsy proclaimed ... .

"It's simply a matter of waking up their souls."" {True : but "waking up the soul" of ordinary iron would hardly a matter of merely converting it into an electromagnet by running around it an electrical direct-current (through a copper wire coiled around it in a single direction).}

{Now quite, for the author would appear to be be employing merely a figurative expression. The actual "waking up the souls" of material things would necessarily involve communicating with the Elemental Spirits to whose custody such "things" are (by divine consent) allocated.}

Soyinka 1988 = "A Reassessment of the African Literary Image". In his Art, Dialogue & Outrage. Ibadan : New Horn. pp. 1-14.

Garuba 2003 = H. Garuba : "Notes on Reading/Writing African Literature, Culture, and Society". PUBLIC CULTURE 15.2:261-85.

Ma`rquez 1970 = Gabriel Garci`a Ma`rquez : One Hundred Years of Solitude. London : Picador.

pp. 461-2 animist realism

p. 461

"Garuba's article makes good use of novels, poetry and plays by Achebe, ... Osundare and Soyinka, and it at least mentions others by ... Ladipo, ... Tutuola and ... Okri. ...

There is a broad context, deliberate performed and habitually assumed, in which a larger-than-human social cosmos is attended to or presumed, and within which it is possible (or deemed necessary) for particular people to focus on relating with certain

animals, plants, spirits, ancestors, deities, strangers or other co-inhabitants of the world.

{Out of these categories of "co-inhabitants" : "spirits, ancestors, deities" are fundamental : for, they tend to control the others (viz., animals, plants, etc.).}

Out of this context and these specific acts of relationship ... authors may write novels, poems, plays and other works that can ...

be identified as "animist realist".

{Literature not descriptive of propre "souls" nor of propre "activities of souls" cannot be regarded as "animist", realist though it may be.}

Magic may be deemed an appropriate activity or

p. 462

attitude in this world ... -- and therefore

"magical realism" is, as Garuba says, a subspecies of the literature evoking the animate world."

{Quite wrong! To evoke "the animate world" (in the author's sense of "world of the living") would, instead, be merely biologic realism. "Magical realism" would needs entail, instead, communication (e.g., in dreaming or during visionary trance) with praeternatural entities (such as, fae:ries, trolls, or whatever).}

{Furthermore, because praeternatural entities control the material universe, therefore the biologic may be regarded as a subsidiary category of the praeternatural -- but only when overtly expounded as such.}

p. 462 praeternatural themes in other novels by African tribesfolk

"In Amos Tutuola's The Wild Hunter in the Bush of Ghosts (1989) [p. 467, n. 4 : "Inspired by David Fagunwa's ... The Forest of a Thousand Daemons"], the contested ... domains ... and their human and ghostly inhabitants, act in creative unison. ... Ghosts are as necessary to the plot as are ... humans.

This is true too in Ben Okri's ... The Famished Road (1991), in which ... "we arrive at ... the most sophisticated expression of magical realism in African literature today" (Quayson 2009:172). In The Famished Road the narrator is an abiku, a child endlessly born and reborn, and therefore experiencing uncanny criss-crossing familiarities and disjunctions with both this ... and the "spirit world". Both are, of course, "real" in the novel, and [likewise] in animist ... cosmologies.

The interplay of what seems normative or acceptable in each world (and appears bizarre and unacceptable in the other) makes for powerful telling."

{Such concerns could be adequate described and expounded only when supernatural deities' ro^les in such affairs be explicitly described and expounded in adequate detail.}

Quayson 2009 = Ato Quayson : "Magical Realism and the African Novel". In :- F. Abiola Irele (ed.) : The Cambridge Companion to the African Novel. Cambridge Univ Pr. http://www.worldcat.org/title/cambridge-companion-to-the-african-novel/oclc/316824136/viewport pp. 159-76.

pp. 462-4 praeternatural themes in Maori-style and in AmerIndian-style novels

p. 462

"in Patricia Grace ... (1999) ... the brother of a baby killed ... makes space for her ghost to live alongside him ..., the theme of making space enables ... Maori cosmology, traditional knowledge, ...

p. 463

educational practice (studying "between the lines of history" [ibid.:291]) ... into a narrative about places and gaps ... .

Another novel in which ghosts play central roles, Leslie Silko ... (1992), offers a ... wide-ranging and lengthy consideration of what happens when people do or, conversely, do not[,] attend to ancestors and ghosts. Some of these ghosts ... are deceased initiators of resistance (such as the Ghost Dancers ...). Some ... remain eager to support their descendants (ibid.:746). Without this ... larger-than-human ... reality ... indigenous novels would not work.

It might be ... Sherman Alexie's ... characters or plots require appreciation of larger-than-empiricist {read /larger-than-materialist/ : for, ghosts can be easily detected empeirically} realism. In Flight (2008) ... The main character encounters ghosts (ibid.:87) ... ."

"The animate cosmos is also a necessary context for the short stories of Patricia Grace's The Sky People (1995). In thinking about their actions towards humans ..., EarthMother and SkyFather "began to ask themselves ...

p. 464

Was it all a quesion of Light?" ( ibid.:16)."

"Ancestors and animals (as agents) are significant in Witi Ihimaera ... (1987). ... The ancestor, Paikea, once rode on the whale back to the new land, and threw spears that transformed into objects and (other) living beings. ...

[quoted from Ihimaera 1987, p. 57 :] The sea monster swam. And Paikea, you landed at Ahuahu. You changed into Kahuria Te Rangi. You gave your embrace to the daughter of Te Whironui, who sat in the stern of the canoe."

Grace 1999 = Patricia Grace : Baby No-eyes. London : The Women's Pr.

Silko 1992 = Leslie Silko : Almanac of the Dead. Penguin.

Alexie 2008 = Sherman Alexie : Flight. London : Harvill Secker.

Grace 1995 = Patricia Grace : The Sky People. London : The Women's Pr.

Ihimaera 1987 = Witi Ihimaera : The Whale Rider. London : Robson Bks.


Graham Harvey (ed.) : Handbook of Contemporary Animism. Acumen Publ, Durham; ISD, Bristol, 2013.