Bodies and Terrain

This has been a busy year for me — busy with keeping up with the 400,000 vertical foot challenge (130,000 as of this afternoon!) — busy with a semester full of new classes, creative curriculum conversations, writing of all sorts — busy with family adventures — and busy finishing up EMT, WFR, and WEMT certifications.

I’ve been on riding with Hardwick Rescue, our local volunteer ambulance service since the start of April, and even in the first couple of months, I already feel like I’m actually doing some real good for the community.

All this training, practice, and experience has given me perspective — on our relationships with ourselves, with one another, and with the places we live in.

At work, we’ve been deep into conversations about a vision for the future, which, in the world of higher education, is often hard to predict and can surprise you in both ways that can be profoundly challenging and generative.

Readings for an upcoming philosophy course

All of this has me thinking about ways that the actual, tangible body fits into all these ongoing conversations about ecology, climate change, socioecological systems, posthumanist philosophy, and so on.

In another space, over the past few weeks, I’ve been writing a proposal for a phenomenological artwork that combines movement (running, that is) with the socioecological context of place — in an effort to bring Climate Run into a more formal framework to help me make my work with it as useful as possible toward making broader change.

Mount Mansfield ‘Chin’ as seen from the ‘Nose’

On a long run this earlier this week — three times (and 7,000 vertical feet) up and down the western slopes of Mount Mansfield, Vermont’s highest peak — some of what I’ve been circling around became clear. I wrote,

It is essential to explore pre-reflective bodily self-consciousness as a means toward expanding connections with a larger world — as an always becoming phenomenological fact (to paraphrase the eighteenth-century French thinker Maine de Biran) — to emphasize both the thickness of corporeal presence and experience *and* the cobecoming of the self within the context of social and ecological domains.

In more concrete language, I suppose what I’m learning (more and more frequently as I blend endurance sport and environmental philosophy) is the role my body plays in exploring the human/non-human binary. I suppose as it was the running that brought me to philosophy, it makes sense that my thinking would bring me back to where the two overlap most deeply: in our experience of the world.

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