Somatic Ecology

book-coverThe book Somatic Ecology, named for the theory with that name, connects the human relationship to the human body to the environmental crisis, and its eventual resolution.

You can buy the book at select bookstores, and conferences, but you can also buy the book online.

From the Introduction:

This book was written with the belief that how we think about things matters. To develop the best solutions to our environmental problems, we need to strive for the most complete explanations to understand the world, and our place in it. As an example: consider when you drive down the road and see an animal carcass. You can look at the body and see it as an accident. But dead animals are a regular output of our transportation system. They are not random accidents. They are statistically predictable accidents.

Albert Einstein wrote that people should, “Make things as simple as possible, but no simpler.” It seems odd at first, but one can draw a straight line from our environmental problems, to the human attitude toward the rest of the natural world. And one can draw a straight line from the human attitude toward nature, to the human conception of the body. If one understands the importance of how we consider the body, we might be able to change the regular accidental outputs that together make up the environmental crisis.

Every year the reporting on the environmental crisis gets more extreme. More and more species are going extinct. The polar ice is melting. Water is in short supply. The globe is warming. Despite increasing documentation of impending chaos and doom, there is reason to believe that humans could develop a healthier relationship to the natural world.

The human/human body divide is a part of the human/nature divide. How we relate to our bodies is representative of how we relate to the natural world. It is the distance between the human conception and the human conception of nature that sanctions a dominant relationship between humans and the natural world.

To read chapter excerpts read the “notes” tab on the book’s Facebook page.

“In this intriguing text, movement takes a (literal) turn towards engagement with the grounded earth.” – Bill McKibben

“Robert Bettmann’s seminar combined a cogent review of his theoretic premises – provocative, instructive, and unexpected – with performative/practical applications and discussion which provided students with a new understanding of their body in space and through movement. The dance exercises gave the lecture an immediate reality that was both energizing and thought provoking.”

Marcia F. Feuerstein Ph.D., A.I.A.
Associate Professor
Virginia Tech, Washington Alexandria Architecture Center