The Peculiarities of the Animist

“Reality is a garden of peculiarities forged from a garden of other peculiarities, which at the same time disperse themselves in their own universe to the rhythm of the sap that flows and flowers,” writes Jesus Sepúlveda* in The Garden of the Peculiarities.

 More from this wonderful book: “The sap that flows through nature spreads without a stable base of identity. Rather it flows spontaneously, precipitately. It does not reproduce itself identically, and it resists the molds of mechanization.”

And yet life always gums up the standards, refusing to cooperate.


This is zoë, irrepressible life as understood by the ancient Greeks, the Dionysian. Rites of enchantment sing to this world of life in its endless becomings and particularities, its fluid identities.  The enchanted world is still here, if you look kindly into the lake it may look back at you, if you sit in the cattails long enough they might speak to you. A goddess may leave her flowers on your lawn and then…you will be a different you. You will have opened identity to difference (and some will think you a child—or say people like you don’t exist anymore).

“Poetry and art prevent the standardization of peculiarity. Artistic language suggests, instead of describing comprehensively, the immediate presence of being. Art and poetry dismantle the reduction driven by intellectual control, allowing its practitioners to become a part of totality” (Sepúlveda).

*Jesus Sepúlveda is a Chilean poet, a green anarchist, and post-colonial scholar who teaches at the University of Oregon in Eugene.


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