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Coming to Our Senses: Body and Spirit in the Hidden History of the West

Coming to Our Senses: Body and Spirit in the Hidden History of the West

by Morris Berman

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Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The author's call for a life of the body--as opposed to an emphasis on success, material possessions and divisive ``isms''--rigorously extends the arguments advanced in his popular The Reenchantment of the World . Stressing that the human infant's emerging self-awareness is bodily as well as conceptual, Berman views conventional birthing methods as traumatic; he faults modern infant care for a dearth of physical contact with the young. His analysis of repressed ``somatic awareness'' takes unusual turns: a history of mirrors, decoding of upper-class vs. lower-class body language, a review of our changing relations with animals--from reverential cave art to the treatment of other species as mere objects. Next, he identifies a countercultural tradition supposedly rooted in bodily experience and rejecting the cerebral, mechanical way of life of the dominant culture. Examples include Gnostic seers' fusion with godhead, Jewish mysticism, 11th century French Cathar heretics with their trance and ecstasy techniques, the soul travel of Renaissance occultists. This maverick synthesis challenges commonly held assumptions. Photos. First serial to Reality Club magazine; paperback rights to Bantam. (May)

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Random House Publishing Group
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Bantam ed

Meet the Author

Morris Berman is a cultural historian and the author of The Twilight of American Culture. He has held a number of university appointments, most recently as Visiting Professor of Sociology at the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC.

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