How Forests Think-toward an anthropology beyond the human (Eduardo Kohn):

“Can forests think? Do dogs dream? In this astonishing book, Eduardo Kohn challenges the very foundation of anthropology, calling into question our very assumptions on what it means to be human – and thus distinct from all other lifeforms. Drawing on four years of ethnographic fieldwork among the Runa of Ecuador’s upper Amazon, Kohn explores how Amazonians interact with the many creatures that inhabit one of the world’s most complex ecosystems.”

Gradually overturning impasse! – at last reaching the rapids where I finally deal a review of this book. For me, the combo of cover image, title & annexing-vignette were beyond irresistible. So then! – Kohn is an assistant professor of anthropology at McGill University in the US. He sets out on a foray into one of the most interesting & badly represented fields of ‘human’ ontology from the perspective, environs & customs of Ecuador’s Runa forest peoples, thus colliding with animism, external &/or shared conciseness, animal possession, altered states, organacism, shamanism & a whole array of perception & existential parallax/definition variables.

Now, this is a very fine book & its ambitions are greatly laudable, but I was substantially spurned by the considerably academic language & lens. So much so actually, that I started to speed-read about halfway through the course. Furthermore, for many dimensions of this subject, I have an acute bond/knowledge or experience – so having phenomena or themes debated using such (to my mind) restrictive, rigid & incongruent lingo leads to an almost humorous inaccuracy & inadequacy. That’s not necessarily to say that this approach of explication is ‘wrong’..on the contrary, many others on a more academic dial may be able to understand or glean precisely because of this explicit use of language mechanics in such a formatted regimentation. For me though, as an intuitionist, spontanite & verdant yaju wild-arse motherfucker, it’s an extremely ill-fitting interface. Still, plenty to commend here, & anyone in the field of interest will inevitably want to check-out a book on such a whoppingly delicious topic with a name like “How Forests Think”. some very nice photography from the author throughout as well.

PS: & of course dogs dream! Haven’t you watched them yelping & wincing-out whilst asleep? Less time in tha lab!!

Eduardo Kohn, 2013, University Of California Press, 228 pages