In this difficult time in human history, it seems to me essential to pay close attention to the powers and potentialities of our bodies and their deep ecological entanglements. The mutual residing of ourselves and nature within one another is the fundamental condition of our existence, however much we may ignore or become distracted from this truth by the ephemera our of culture, our politics, and our own life stories.
This reciprocal becoming of seer and seen, the outwardness of perception and the inwardness of things, is what Maurice Merleau-Ponty called “the flesh of the world”. In choosing the word “flesh”, the philosopher made clear that what he was suggesting was not some abstract or transcendent unity, but a comingling of different registers of carnality. Seeing the world as flesh opens the door to new (or very old) ways of thinking human and non-human life-worlds. It becomes (again) possible to speak of eros of nature, an ecology of desire.
My own understanding of these ideas is shaped a lifetime of revelatory experiences in the desert. Standing alongside the life forms I encounter there, the individual bodies of cactus and creosote, I am aware of a flood of thoughts and perceptions crossing and re-crossing horizons of the landscape and what I call myself. I carry home what I can, in traces left on/in my body like so many unexposed images. And then, using various techniques, I try to build pictures that say something about my experiences: of recognition and reunion, capacious being beyond the fixed and impoverished identities afforded by a market-driven culture.