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 Inanimate Objects Aren’t Inanimate (Or Objects)

In the myths and fairytales, everything teems with sentience and agency… Everything is alive. There are talking trees and singing stones and hedges that move of their own will. Mirrors speak. Swords dance. There are flying carpets and far-seeing spyglasses and cloaks and boots that leap by themselves. This pervasive insistence in the old stories that absolutely everything is alive — that everything has eyes — butts up against modern rationality and therefore gets marginalized as childish ‘fantasy.’ But as science discovers more and more that the lines between living and dead, conscious and not, human and non-human are not as clear as we’d once imagined, as science starts to unpack the sentience of trees and the latent life within clay, we start to (re)discover that ‘things’ are not just dead objects at all, and that this whole world hums with animacy. And so the vision of a world of persons, a world with eyes, is not simply a child’s eye view — it’s actually much closer to the way things are. In taking our attention to the least of things, and remembering that we inhabit a world with eyes, we open up the possibility of redefining our relationship with the cosmos itself. Sparked to life by a conversation with sculptor Rose B. Simpson and featuring original music by Peia, Marya Stark, Sidibe, Ben Murphy, and Andy Aquarius, this episode takes us on a journey through talking stones and living clay and animate bells and drums into a world in which everything has eyes, everything has agency, everything is a portal to the infinite — even the seemingly ‘inanimate.’ Even… your car. Listen on a good sound system, at a time when you can devote your full attention.