Some people love to divide and classify, while others are bridge-makers—weaving relations that turn a divide into a living contrast, one whose power is to affect, to produce thinking and feeling.
But bridge-making is a situated practice. As a philosopher, I am situated: a daughter to a practice responsible for many divisions, but which may also be understood as a rather particular means of bridge-making. The mathematician and philosopher Alfred North Whitehead wrote that all Western philosophy can be understood as footnotes to Plato’s texts. Perhaps I became a philosopher because writing such footnotes implies feeling the text as an animating power—inviting participation, beckoning to me and suggesting the writing of another footnote that will make a bridge to the past, that will give ideas from the past the power to affect the present.
In spite of this, I will not take advantage of the possibility that philosophy is a form of textual animism, using this to delocalize myself, to feel authorized to speak about animism. Indeed, where what we call animism is concerned, the past to be considered is primordially the one in which philosophical concepts served to justify colonization and the divide across which some felt free to study and categorize others—a divide that still exists today.
Thus, in contrast to David Abram, whose experience enables him to turn the animist modes of experience, awareness, and knowledge into an intensely powerful bridge-making tool, as a generative constraint I must accept to not feel free to speak and speculate in a way that would situate others. Rather, I must acknowledge the fact that my own practice and tradition situate me on one side of the divide, the side that characterized “others” as animists. “We,” on our side, presume to be the ones who have accepted the hard truth that we are alone in a mute, blind, yet knowable world—one that is our task to appropriate.
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