oa Indo-Pacific Journal of Phenomenology - Gesture, landscape and embrace : a phenomenological analysis of elemental motions

Volume 6, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1445-7377



Maurice Merleau-Ponty's 'flesh of the world' speaks to an embodied connection to the spaces we inhabit deeply, primally, elementally. Flesh suggests water and its circulations, air and its respirations, earth and its conformations, fire and its inspirations. Flesh speaks to our bodily relations with the elements of a more-than-human world. This paper explores the felt imperative to these relations where, as Merleau-Ponty put it, 'all distance is traversed' and wherein movement arises not specifically in the body, but in the nexus and intertwining of bodily engagement with the world. There is a primacy to movement that registers in the living body in its carnal ties to the elements of the world's flesh. The 'radical reflection' on the 'flesh of the world' to which this analysis aspires in turn bears upon the general field of gestural reciprocities and connections, providing the insight that intimate gestures of the flesh, such as the embrace, are primordial attunements, motions of rhythm and reciprocity, that emanate from the world in identification with it. The embrace is fundamentally, elementally, a gesture of landscape dwelling. A phenomenology of elemental motions provides the textual reminder that to be at home in various landscapes means to know what it is to be embraced corporeally, sensually, within the human and especially the more-than-human folds of the world.

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