The Ecology of Magic: An Interview with David Abram

“David Abram is an odd combination of anthropologist, philosopher and sleight-of-hand magician. Though he worked as a magician in the United States and Europe for a number of years, he attributes most of what he knows about magic to the time he spent in Indonesia, Nepal and Sri Lanka learning from indigenous medicine people. Performing magic is not simply about entertaining, he points out in this interview. “The task of the magician is to startle our senses and free us from outmoded ways of thinking.” The magician also plays an important ecological function, he says, by mediating between the human world and the “more-than-human” world that we inhabit.

When Abram published his book The Spell of the Sensuous in 1996, the reviewers practically exhausted their superlatives in praise of it. The Village Voice declared that Abram had “one of those rare minds which, like the mind of a musician or a great mathematician, fuses dreaminess with smarts.” The Utne Reader called Abram a “visionary” for “casting magic spells through his writing and lecturing” and for his deepening influence on the environmental movement.

The Spell of the Sensuous went on to win the prestigious Lannan Literary Award for non-fiction. It touches on a wide range of themes, from our perception of the natural world to the way we use of language and symbols to process our experience.”

(via Scott London. h/t: Neuroanthropology)


  1. Hey, I don’t know whether you’ve actually read the Spell of the Sensuous…. but if you haven’t you should, it’s unbelievably awesome!

  2. Thanks for the recommendation, Dan! I’ll be sure and check it out.

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