The language of breathing?

Watching a video by David Abrams entitled Mindfulness In Nature‘.

Abram talks about how he sees God in nature, and refers to his Jewish heritage by explaining that in Hebrew – as with many languages – the words for breath, air, spirit, god, etc are often similar or even the same (37:40). He goes on to explain that a mysterious name is given for God in Hebrew, a name that consists of the four letters YHWH with no certain pronunciation, although it is commonly stated as ‘YAHWEH’. This is partly due to the Hebrew language not using vowels? But Abrams suggests that part of the great secrecy around the name of God can be derived from the fact that ‘breath’ and ‘spirit’ have a shared word in Hebrew. Abrams suggests that YHWH is not pronounced, but rather breathed. In other words, rather than filling in the gaps with vowels or verbal language, the gaps are instead filled with air, breath, something more-than-human that is life sustaining, physically intangible, yet sensorially experienceable. So when we breathe, when animals and plants breathe, when air and water interact to co-create climate, the name of God is being spoken. What’s more, the name of God in this way is devoid of language, but a communicative form that all animate life speaks through the very act of breathing.

This has made me wonder whether my paper should focus on autistic experiences alone, or sensory ways of knowing the more-than-human as a holistic case study with autistic realities as one particular example? The benefits of this would be that I am neither elevating nor highlighting autism as a sole and extreme example, but rather embracing it as one set of ways to understand the more-than-human alongside other sets. I have been worried that by focusing on the autistic experience I might inadvertently be exceptionalising those with experiences of autism or separating them by making them special. Rather, the intention needs to be one of decentering the dominant human ways of knowing and considering realities outside of those paradigms, so that those realities are bought into the circle and included as part of a repertoire of possible ways to approach more-than-human research.


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