David Abram (born June 24, 1957) is an American philosopher, cultural ecologist, and performance artist.
In 1976, he began working as “house magician” at Alice’s Restaurant in the Berkshires of Massachusetts, and soon was performing at clubs throughout New England while studying at Wesleyan University. He took a year off from college to journey as a street magician through Europe and the Middle East; toward the end of that journey, in London, he began exploring the application of sleight-of-hand magic to psychotherapy under the guidance of Dr. R. D. Laing. Abram traveled throughout Southeast Asia, living and studying with indigenous magic practitioners. When he returned to North America he became a student of natural history and ecology and was soon lecturing in tandem with biologist Lynn Margulis and geochemist James Lovelock, the creators of the Gaia Theory.
Abram’s work has been influenced by his friendships with the archetypal psychologist James Hillman and with the radical social critic, Ivan Illich. In 2001, the New England Aquarium and the Orion Society sponsored a large public debate between David Abram and distinguished biologist E. O. Wilson, at Faneuil Hall in Boston, on science and ethics. In the summer of 2005, Abram delivered a keynote address for the United Nations “World Environment Week” in San Francisco, to 70 mayors from the largest cities around the world. Abram founded the Alliance for Wild Ethics (AWE) with several colleagues in 2006. He is profiled in the 2007 book, Visionaries: The 20th Century’s 100 Most Inspirational Leaders, and was named by the Utne Reader as one of a hundred visionaries currently transforming the world.
Abram is the author of The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-than-Human World (2007) and Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology (2010), two books which have the power to transform our world.
The Real in Its Wonder, by David Abram
Today our relation to the enfolding earth is filtered through a dense panoply of technologies – from air conditioners that mask the heat, to electric lights that hide the night, from capsuled automobiles that hustle us hither and yon to earbuds and headsets whose self-enclosed sounds eclipse the layered silence of the land, blotting out the hum of bees and the whooshing wind whose voice swells and subsides into the belly of that silence. And then there’s the every-expanding array of screens that we daily stare at, summoning images and information up onto their gleaming surface with a few clicks of the keys – this smooth and scintillating surface that’s so much more accommodating of our desires than the irregular ground that supports our bodies, so much more responsive to our impatient cravings than the slow reticence whereby seedlings and weeds emerge from the dark depths to become visible against the surface of the soul. Meanwhile, the “nature programming” on television offers such compelling nonstop escapades to our ready gaze – elephants amorously mating, two bull elk locking antlers with a loud clatter, a raptor carrying a hapless young squirrel aloft – that when we walk outside during a commercial we can’t help but wonder, seeing how placid things are in our backyard, just where all the action is. The eventful “nature” on the TV seems far more real, somehow, than this slow and rather boring substitute going about its business outside the window.
It is commonplace to observe that today the perceived world is everywhere filtered and transformed by technology, altered by the countless tools that interpose themselves between our sense and the earthly sensuous. It is less common to suggest that there’s a wildness that still reigns underneath all these mediations – that our animal senses, coevolved with the animate landscape, are still tuned to the many-voiced earth. Our creaturely body, shaped in ongoing interaction with the other bodies that compose the biosphere, remains poised and thirsting for contact with otherness. Cocooned in a clutch of technologies, the nervous system that seethes within our skin still thirsts for a relatively unmediated exchange with reality in all its more-than-human multiplicity and weirdness.
Of course, there can be no complete abolishment of mediation, no pure and unadulterated access to the real. Like other social species, we two-leggeds communicate intensely among ourselves, and the various languages we’ve evolved to do so are themselves a kind of filter that mediates our experience. Still, some ways of speaking are more abstract than others, and some are more permeable to the hooved or scaly shapes that flex and slither through the sensible surroundings. Certainly civilization has many highfalutin forms of speech that hold us aloof from our animal bodies and from the material ground underfoot. And the pervasive digitized forms of discourse that today bring instant communication with persons on the far side of the planet regularly interrupt any remaining rapport between our flesh and the sensuous locale. Yet there are other, older human discourses whose sounds still carry the lilt of the local songbirds, languages whose meanings are less removed from the intimacy of antler and seed and leaf. Such languages live more on the tongue than on the page of screen. They thrive in societies that have not until recently been greatly influenced by the printed word – cultures where human meaning has not yet become wholly ensconced in a static set of visible signs.
While every human language intercedes between the human animal and the animate earth, writing greatly densifies the verbal medium, rendering it more opaque to the many non-human shapes that dwell out beyond all our words. Non-written, oral languages are far more transparent, allowing the things and beings of the world to shine through the skein of terms and to touch us more directly. Since the phrases of an oral culture are not fixed on the page, the sounding of those phrases readily alters from season to season – as the shifting pulse of the crickets may alter the rhythm of our speaking, and even the calm solidity of a boulder we lean against can influence the weight of our spoken words. In such cultures, humans converse less with the written-down signs than with the other speaking powers that stutter and swerve through the soundscape (with the syncopated chanting of toads, and the magpie whose rough soliloquy tumbles down from the upper branches). For here everything is expressive, a thunderstorm no less than a hummingbird. To the animistic, oral sensibility, a cedar tree’s hushed and whispered phrasings may be as eloquent as a spider’s fine-spun patternings, or the collective polyphony of a pack of wolves.
Such elemental, oral languages are rapidly vanishing today, along with the diverse ecosystems that once held them. While linguists estimate that around 6,000 oral languages are currently in use around the world, fully half of them are no longer being taught to children. Which is to say that 3,000 such languages are already effectively lost. Of roughly 175 native languages currently spoken in the United States, 55 are today spoken by fewer than ten people, and only twenty are still being spoken by mothers to their young children. It is hardly a coincidence that so many native languages are unraveling at the very same historical moment when innumerable local ecosystems on every continent are fragmenting and falling apart. The conjunction makes evident how deeply the internal coherence of an oral language is entwined with the vitality and coherence of the land itself.
For the peoples who speak such languages are those who steadily engage the land with their muscled limbs and their dreaming senses, those who draw their sustenance – their food and their clothing and the materials for tools and shelter – not from supermarkets or shopping centers but directly from the animate earth. Yet these lifeways, too, are vanishing – as such peoples are displaced from ancestral lands and forced to forfeit traditional livelihoods. Some are indigenous horticulturalists, and have been so for centuries, even millennia, like the Mesoamericans who carefully cultivated the earliest forms of maize, or corn, some six thousand years ago. Others are traditional fishermen who work the rivers and coastal waters with woven nets or with boats fashioned from hollowed-out trees. For countless generations, such tribal peoples foraged widely for rooted foods, often scattering seeds in particular places as they wandered. Some followed the animals in their migrations, apprenticing themselves to particular creatures. They learned by steady observation how to mimic the calls of those animals and to mime their intricate movements, honoring the creatures in dance and song so those animals might honor them in turn by granting success in the hunt. Others apprenticed themselves to particular plants – smelling, sometimes tasting, slowly ingesting the teachings taught directly by the wild-flowering intelligence of the soil.
The oral languages spoken by such peoples held them close to the speaking earth. As diverse in their lifeways as the contrasting landscapes of the planet, few of these peoples would ever describe of define themselves in isolation from the living land that sustained them.
Although such states of mind may feel peculiar to the modern intellect, it is worth recalling that we all have our indigenous ancestry, and indeed our hunter-gatherer heritage is by far the largest part of our human inheritance. Human culture itself was born in a thoroughly oral context, informed by songs and spoken stories for man tens of thousands of years before any such stories were preserved in a formal writing system. So while the intensely participatory, or animistic, frame of mind common to oral cultures may seem odd to us, it is hardly alien: it is the very form of awareness that shaped all human communication for better than 95% of our cultured presence within the biosphere. It is that modality of experience to which the human organism is most closely adapted, the mode of consciousness that has most deeply defined our imagination and our intelligence. We could never have survived, as a species, without our propensity for animistic engagement with every aspect of our earthly habitat. And yet this highly adaptive style of experience has lain mostly dormant in the modern era.***
*** [There are many intellectuals today who feel that any respectful reference to indigenous belief smacks of romanticism, and a kind of backward-looking nostalgia. Oddly, these same persons often have no problem “looking backward” toward ancient Rome or ancient Greece for philosophical insight and guidance in the present day. What upsets these self-styled “defenders of civilization” is the implication that civilization might have something to learn from cultures that operate according to an entirely different set of assumptions, cultures that stand outside of historical time and the thrust of progress. Many persons steeped in Western science tend to assume that native notions are superstitious or simply naïve, unaware that indigenous thought stems from a radically different view of what language is and what thinking is for.
There is simply no way to comprehend indigenous notions without stepping aside from commercial assumptions that are broadly take for granted today (including the basic equation of land with property – with a commodity that can be bought, sold or owned). Indigenous insights cannot be understood without slowing down, without taking time to notice the upward press of the ground and the earthen silence that surrounds all our words. Often at home in such silence, oral peoples tend toward reticence, reluctant to broadcast their experience very loudly. Hence, while indigenous traditions are vigorously unfolding today, the philosophical intensity and practical wisdom of native peoples all too often remains invisible and unheard amid the bustle and blare of contemporary commerce, conveniently ignored by those who most have need of such intelligence.]
While indigenous, oral cultures tend to be exceedingly different from one another, it is nonetheless possible to discern several intuitions and qualities that they hold in common.
First: Oral awareness is intensely local in its orientation. Without the many communication technologies recently spawned by the printed word (without the ability such media have to bring us into contact with far-off places), indigenous oral awareness is much more deeply informed by the immediately surrounding locale than most modern folks can even imagine. In the absence of intervening technologies, our senses – coevolved for millions of years with the textures, colors and sounds of surrounding nature – spontaneously couple themselves to shapes and dynamic patterns in the living landscape, tracking those patterns as they metamorphose through the seasons. The leafing time of the local trees, the rhythms of bud and blossom and fruit, the reticence of various animals in certain months and their antic exuberance in others – all these unfolding in the immediate environs provide a set of sensuous metaphors for the complex pulse of our own emotions, and a basic template for our cognitions. The human animal is a creature of imagination, to be sure, yet our imagination is first provoked and infused by the earthly place where we dwell, or by the wider terrain wherein we circulate. Indigenous, oral intelligence is place-based intelligence, an awareness infused by the local terrain.
Second: The simple act of perception is experienced as an interchange between oneself and that which one perceives – as a meeting, a participation, a communion between beings. For each thing that we sense is assumed to be sensitive in its own right, able to feel and respond to the beings around it, and to us.
Third: Each perceived presence is felt to have its own dynamism, its own pulse, its own active agency in the world. Each phenomenon has the ability to affect and influence the space around it, and the other beings in its vicinity. Every perceived thing, in other words, is felt to be animate – to be (at least potentially) alive. Death itself is more a transformation than a state; a dying organism becomes parf of the wider life that surrounds it, as the hollowed-out trunk of a fallen tree feeds back into the broader metabolism of the forest. There is thus no clear divide between that which is animate and that which is inanimate. Rather, to the oral awareness, everything is animate, everything moves. It’s just that some things (like granite boulders) move much slower than other things (like crows or crickets). There are only these different speeds and styles of movement, these divergent rhythms and rates of pulsation, these many different ways of being alive.
The surrounding world, then, is experienced less as a collection of objects than as a community of active agents, or subjects. Indeed, every human community would seem nested within a wider, more-than-human community of beings.
Fourth: The ability of each thing or entity to influence the space around it may be viewed as the expressive power of that being. All things, in this sense, are potentially expressive; all things have the power of speech. Most, of course, do not speak in words. But this is also true of ourselves: our own verbal eloquence is but one form of human expression among many others. For our body, in its silence, is already expressive. The body, itself, speaks.
Fifth: Since our own sensitive and sensuous bodies are entirely a part of the world that we perceive – since we are carnally embedded within the sensuous field – we can experience things only from our own limited angle and place among them. Hence we have only a partial view of each entity or situation that we encounter; there is no aspect of this world that can be fathomed or figured out by us in its entirety. There are always aspects that are hidden from view, dimensions that we cannot perceive directly. The depth of the world, and indeed of any part of the world, is therefore inexhaustible. Every certainty, every instance of clear knowledge, is necessarily surrounded by a horizon of uncertainty shading into mystery.
Sixth: To an oral culture, the world is articulated as story. The surrounding cosmos is not experienced as a set of fixed and finished facts, but as a story in which we (along with the moon sliding in and out of the clouds, and the trout leaping for a fly) are all participant.
For the relation of a tale to its characters is much the same as the relation of this earthly cosmos to its inhabitants. Just as there is an interiority to the perceived world (carnally enfolded as we are by the round expanse of terrain and the curving vault of the sky), so the characters in a well-told tale live and breathe within the voluminous interiority of the story itself.
In other words, we find ourselves situated in the land, with its transformations and cycles of change, much as protagonists are situated in a story. To deeply oral culture, the earthly world is felt as a vast, ever-unfolding Story in which we – along with the other animals, plants and landforms – are all characters.
Seventh: In such a breathing cosmos, time is not a rectilinear movement from a distant past to a wholly different future. Rather, time has an enveloping roundness, like the encircling horizon. It is a mystery marked by the slide of the sun into the ground every evening and its rebirth every dawn, by the incessant cycling of the moon and the round dance of the seasons. The curvature of time is here inseparable from the apparent curvature of space; and indeed both remain rooted in the round primacy of place. For each place has its particular pulse. Each realm has its rhythms, its unique ways of sprouting and unfurling and giving birth to itself again and again – as the world itself turns and returns, and as indeed the best stories are told over and over again.
Eighth: A world made of story is an earth permeated by dreams, a terrain filled with imagination. Yet this is not so much our imagination, but rather the world’s imagination, in which our own actions are participant. As players within an expansive, ever-unfolding story, our lives are embedded within a psyche that is not primarily ours.
The dreamy, emotional atmosphere that permeates a story is much like the fluid atmosphere that enfolds our breathing bodies, with its storms and its calms. Awareness itself is here inseparable from the air – from this invisible medium, infused with sunlight, which circulates both within and all around us, binding our life together with that of the tempest and the swaying pines…
So mind is not experienced as an exclusively human property, much less as a private possession that resides within one’s head. While there may indeed be an interior quality to the mind, for a deeply oral culture this interiority derives not from a belief that the mind is located within us, but from a felt sense that we are located within it, carnally immersed in an awareness that is not ours, but is rather the Earth’s.
Ninth: Each entity participates in this enveloping awareness from its own angle and orientation, according to the proclivities of its own flesh. We inhale the awakened atmosphere through our skin or our flaring nostrils or the stomata in our leaves, circulating it within ourselves, lending something of our unique chemistry to the collective medium as we exhale, each of us thus animated by the wider intelligence even as we tweak and transform that intelligence. The rooted beings among us twist and flex in the invisible surge; other creatures are carried aloft by the whirling currents. The denser life of rock may seem impervious to those winds, yet the crevassed contours of the mountains have been carved over eons by the creativity of wind and weather, as those mountains now carve the wind in turn, coaxing spores out of the breeze and conjuring clouds out of the fathomless blue.
The wild mind of the planet blows though us all, ensconced as we are in the depths of this elusive medium. However, although it is our common element, every one of us experiences it differently. No two bodies or beings ever inhabit this big awareness from precisely the same angle, or with the same sensory organization and style. Since the body is precisely our interface and exchange with the field of awareness, a praying mantis’ experience of mind is as weirdly different from our own as its spindly body is different from ours; and the dreaming of an aspen grove is as different from both as its own fleshly interchange with the medium is different from all others. It is our bodies that participate in awareness. Hence no one can feel, much less know, precisely how the big mystery reveals itself to another.
Here’s another way this might be said: each of us by our actions is composing our part of the story in concert with the other bodies or beings around us. Yet since we are situate within the story, dreaming our way through its voluminous depths according to the unique ways of our flesh, no one of us can discern precisely how the story can best be articulated by another. No human individual can fathom just how the encompassing imagination is experienced by any other person – much less a turtle, or a thundercloud, or by a car door patiently rusting at the junkyard, its viridian paint flaking off in the desert heat.
Our carnal immersion in the depths of the Mysterious thus ensures an inherent and inescapable pluralism. And yet – and yet: although there is no single way to tell it, it is the same Tale that is unfurling itself through our gazillion and one gestures. It remains the same Earth whose life-giving breath we all inhabit, the very same mystery that we each experience from our own place within its depths.
We can be fairly certain that such oral stories were not take literally by those who told them, or even by those who heard them. For literal truth is a very recent invention, brought into being by alphabetic literacy. The word “literal”, after all, derives from the Latin word for letter. To understand something literally originally meant to understand that it happened exactly as written in scripture. However, the stories proper to most indigenous cultures – like the diverse creation stories told among tribal peoples throughout the world, or the various tales of the sun’s night journey beneath the ground – were commonly told and retold without ever being written down.
Once inscribed on the page, language takes on a detached fixity very different from the way language is experienced in a deeply oral culture. To our unaided, animal senses, everything speaks. But with the spread of phonetic writing, the capacity of meaningful speech seemed to withdraw from the surrounding landscape: language increasingly came to be seen as a purely human prerogative. Words and phrase began to be used less as invocational and creative powers, and more as representational functions; as labels by which to demarcate and define a mute cosmos that had previously appeared animate, and expressive, in its own right. Material things seemed to become more stable and determinate.
Only after the advent of written letters, and the dissemination of alphabetic texts, did there arise a clear distinction between “literal” and “metaphoric” uses of language (between literal truth and figurative, or poetic, truth). For this simple reason, the many indigenous tales of the sun’s night journey through the ground could hardly have been understood literally by those who heard them in their original ambiance.
We would be similarly mistaken if we concluded that such stories carried a purely metaphoric meaning for those who originally told and heard them. For again, these tales were being told long before that writing-induced rift in felt meaning that forged the notion of literal speech, on the one hand, and metaphoric speech, on the other. We must try to imagine ourselves into a mode of listening prior to any such split if we wish to hear the old, ancestral stories in anything like their original meaning.
Neither entirely literal nor entirely metaphoric, the world that articulated itself through our oral stories was rather, at every point, metamorphic. The land was alive: each place had its pulse, each palpable presence seemed crouched in readiness to become something else.
Such is the realm open to us, still, by our animal senses. Our most immediate perceptual experience discloses a world in continual metamorphosis. Even the most allegedly stable landforms alter around us as we move among them, their hues transforming as the sun glides behind the clouds. The tonalities of each region modulate with the turning seasons.
Reality shapeshifts. Underneath our definitions, prior to all our ready explanations, the world disclosed by our bodily senses is a breathing cosmos – tranced, animate, and trickster-struck.
The story [of the sun’s journey] follows a kind of perceptual logic very different from the abstract logic we leaned at school. It attends closely to the sensuous play of the world, allowing the unfolding pattern of that display to carry us into a place of dark wonder and possibility: that at night the sun replenishes itself in the material depths of the ground. There is a vivid imagination at work in the tale, although it’s an imagination steadily nourished by our senses, and one that nourishes them in turn. The story does not ask us to forsake the evidence of our eyes, but invites us to look deeper, and to listen ever closer, feeling our way into participation with a palpable cosmos at least as alive and aware as we are. The jostling elemental powers that compose this animate cosmos are sometimes lucid and sometimes dazed – like us, they must give themselves over to sleep, and the magic of dreams, if they wish to renew themselves.
Informed by the logic of our senses, the story gestures toward a great secret: that there’s a blazing luminosity that resides at the heart of the earth. The tale suggests that the salutary goodness of light makes its primary home within the density and darkness of matter. That the transcendent, life-giving radiance that daily reaches down to us from the celestial heights also reaches up to us from far below the ground. That there’s a Holiness that dwells and dreams at the very center of the earth.
That which transcends the sensuous world also secretly makes its home deep within this world. However blasphemous such an affirmation may sound to persons of a theistic bent, the aboriginal intuition of a resplendence immanent in matter accords well with a new sense of the sacred now striving to be born.
Our age-old disparagement of corporeal reality has in our time brought not just our kind but the whole biosphere to a horrific impasse. The aspiration for a bodiless purity that led so many to demean earthly nature as a fallen, sinful realm (and the related will-to-control that’s led us to ceaselessly mine and manipulate nature for our own, exclusively human, purposes) has made a mangled wreckage of this elegantly interlaced world. Yet a new vision of our planet has been gathering, quietly, even as the old, armored ways of seeing stumble and joust for ascendance, their metallic joints creaking and crumbling with rust. Beneath the clamor of ideologies and the clashing of civilizations, a fresh perception is slowly shaping itself – a clarified encounter between the human animal and its elemental habitat.
It is a perception that honors the immeasurable otherness of things, the way that any earthborn presence exceeds the calculations we perform upon it – the manner in which each stone, each gust of wind, each termite-ridden log or gliding seal turtle harbors and bodies forth a creativity that resists all definition. As though there’s a subtle fire burning within each sensible presence, a heartbeat unique to each being – not only to persons, then, and individual woodpeckers, but also bulrushes and granite slabs, gashes burned into trees by lightning, pollen grains, katydids, coral reefs, and shed snakeskins. This unique creativity ensures that we don’t really perceive the beings around us unless we suspend our already-settled certainties, opening ourselves toward whatever pulse rides within each thing we meet. The expectation of a basic enigma at the heart of every ostensible “object” kindles a new humility within ourselves, engendering an empathic attunement to our surroundings and a compassionate resolve to do least harm.
Despite our inherited conceptions, sensible things are not fixed and finished objects able to be fathomed all at once. Their incomplete quality opens them to the influence of other things, ensuring that each entity – earthworm, musk ox, thundercloud, cactus flower – is held within an interdependent lattice of relationships, a matrix of exchanges and reciprocities that is not settled within itself but remains fluid and adaptable, able to respond to perturbations from afar, yielding a biosphere that is not, finally, a clutch of determinate mechanisms but a living sphere, breathing…
If much natural science of the last two centuries held itself aloof from the nature it studied, pondering the material world as though that world were a huge aggregate of inert objects and mechanical events, many new-age spiritualities simply abandon material mature entirely, inviting their adherents to focus their intuitions upon non-material energies and discarnate beings assumed to operate in an a-physical dimension, pulling the strings of our apparent reality and arranging earthly events according to an order that lies elsewhere, behind the scenes. Commonly reckoned to be at odds with one another, conventional over-reductive science and most new-age spiritualities actually fortify one another in their detachment from the earth, one of them reducing sensible nature to an object with scant room for sentience and creativity, the other projecting all creativity onto a supernatural dimension beyond all bodily ken.
A similar alliance, unsuspected by those most caught within it, may be found in the contemporary ideological battle between advocates of creationism (or, as many currently frame themselves, proponents of “intelligent design”) and the neo-Darwinian dogmatists of the “new atheism”. The intelligent design theorists insist that many aspects of present-day organisms are too complex, and too perfectly adapted for the particular functions that they serve, to have arisen only as a result of the undirected or “blind” evolutionary process of natural selection acting upon purely random mutations. Such instances of irreducible complexity, they maintain, can only have been designed by an external intelligent designer – by a God exerting His will upon the material cosmos from outside.
The scientific intellect, which sometimes prides itself on having vanquished the belief in God from much of the rational populace, regularly situates its gaze in the very place (or rather, the very same non-place) recently vacated by that God. For it affects the same external, all-seeing perspective, the same view from nowhere enjoyed by that divinity. The most assertive new atheists unwittingly rely, in this sense, upon the very same monotheistic assumptions that they ostensibly oppose.
The hyper-rational objectivity behind a great deal of contemporary techno-science could only have arisen in a civilization steeped in a dogmatic and other-worldly monotheism, for it is largely a continuation of the very same detached and derogatory relation to sensuous nature. If in an earlier era we spoke of the earthly world as fallen, sinful, and demonic, we now speak of it as mostly inert, mechanical, and determinate. In both instances nature is stripped of its generosity and prodigious creativity. Similarly, the utopian technological dreaming that would have us bioengineer our way into a new and “more perfected” nature (or would have us down-load human consciousness into “better hardware”), like the new-age wish to spiritually transcend the “physical plane” entirely, seems calculated to help us hide from the shadowed wonder and wildness of earthly existence.
Despite the several pleasures we might draw from life in this world, there remains something about earthly reality that frightens us, and especially unnerves most of us born into civilization.
Whether sustained by a desire for spiritual transcendence or by the contrary wish for technological control and mastery, most of our contemporary convictions carefully shirk and shy away from the way the biosphere is directly experienced from our creaturely position in the thick of its unfolding. They deflect our attention away from a mystery that gleams and glints in the depths of the sensuous world itself, shining forth from within each presence that we see or hear or touch. They divert us from a felt sense that this wild-flowering earth is the primary source of itself, the very well-spring of its own ongoing regenesis. From a recognition that nature, as the word itself suggests, is self-born. And hence matter is not just created but also creative, not a passive blend of chance happenings and mechanically determined events, but an unfolding creativity ever coming into being, ever bringing itself forth…
by Robert Riversong: may be reproduced only with attribution for non-commercial purposes