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Dwellings: A Spiritual History of the Living World (1995)

by Linda Hogan

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2633101,911 (3.81)4
"We want to live as if there is no other place," Hogan tells us, "as if we will always be here. We want to live with devotion to the world of waters and the universe of life." In offering praise to sky, earth, water, and animals, she calls us to witness how each living thing is alive in a conscious world with its own integrity, grace, and dignity. In Dwellings, Hogan takes us on a spiritual quest borne out of the deep past and offers a more hopeful future as she seeks new visions and lights ancient fires.… (more)
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Essays on... I might say natural history, but this is more philosophical than you usually see in natural history works. Also, unlike many natural history works, Hogan does not position humans as non-natural. Perhaps I should say these are essays on the need to fit snugly and peacefully into the world, to overcome the positioning of ourselves as Other.

Her essays speak strongly to me, reflecting my own frustrations and infatuations with science, my own ambivalence about the false dichotomy of observing vs. participating, the cost of knowledge, and the tensions between various ways of positioning yourself in the world.

I took this one backpacking with me, hoping that it would be a good backpacking-book. It was.

But it's just as good a living-at-home-in-the-city book. And maybe more necessary there, perhaps.
1 vote sanguinity | Nov 21, 2008 |
Dwellings: A Spiritual History of the Living World is an interesting book, lyrical in places, full of the author's impressions of nature and the world, and the spiritual conclusions she's drawn from this. Linda Hogan is a Chickasaw poet, and her view of things is heavily influenced by native american tradition. She's travelled extensively, and very clearly loves her world and believes in the strength of her traditions.

I found this a fascinating read, and a good insight into the author's beliefs and world. Despite that, a lot of this book left me appreciating the beautiful writing and the ideas she was trying to express; but essentially unmoved. I don't think this is a fault in the book. I think this is simply because, unlike Linda Hogan, I'm not an earth person. I don't see the world in the same terms she does. She says it herself, in a chapter on the Voyager spacecraft: "There seemed to be two kinds of people; earth people and those others, the sky people, who stumbled over pebbles while they walked around with their heads in clouds. Sky people loved different worlds than I loved; they looked at nests in treetops and followed the long white snake of vapor trails." If, like me, you trip over dirt because you're too busy watching the sky - well, this is a good book, definitely worth reading, and a very good look into a beautiful world; but it's not going to resonate.

If you're an earth person, fascinated by our world and the creatures who live in it - read away. I don't think you'll regret it. ( )
  tarshaan | Sep 30, 2007 |

From Booklist
Poet and novelist Hogan brings her feeling for language and story to these quietly beautiful and provocative musings on the nature of nature. A Chickasaw, Hogan is deeply involved with trying to relearn the "tribal knowings of thousands of years," revelations about the mysteries of life we've devalued, then forgotten. Hogan does succeed in tapping into some forgotten wisdom in her essays, which, though concise, cover and transcend a great deal of territory. Some relate personal experiences, such as participating in a sweat lodge ceremony or observing snakes, eagles, bats, wolves, flamingos, fish, and termites; and other essays focus on the implications of scientific endeavors, such as teaching chimpanzees sign language or the curious coupling of technology and hope inherent in the Voyager's Interstellar Record, that sound and photo album from Earth for the universe. Hogan writes again and again of the "circular infinity" of life and death, of how air, earth, and water commingle and transform each other, how flowers bloom even in a place as blasted as Hiroshima. The earth has a much stronger will than we do, Hogan tells us, a truth we should acknowledge and respect. Donna Seaman
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  CollegeReading | Sep 12, 2008 |
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Epigraph
Our task is to enter into the dream of Nature and interpret the symbols.
--E.L. Grant Watson, They Mystery of Physical Life
Dedication
For my grandmothers,
And for Grandmother,
The Golden Eagle.
First words
For years I prayed for an eagle feather.
Preface: As an Indian woman I question our responsibilities to the caretaking of the future and to the other species who share our journeys.
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"We want to live as if there is no other place," Hogan tells us, "as if we will always be here. We want to live with devotion to the world of waters and the universe of life." In offering praise to sky, earth, water, and animals, she calls us to witness how each living thing is alive in a conscious world with its own integrity, grace, and dignity. In Dwellings, Hogan takes us on a spiritual quest borne out of the deep past and offers a more hopeful future as she seeks new visions and lights ancient fires.

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