Comparing "Arts of the Contact Zone" and Animism and the Alphabet"

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Every breath you take is comprised of bits and pieces of your immediate surrounding. While outside the confines of the manmade structures that stand strong before you everyday, you’re unavoidably absorbing nature. You unconsciously and almost immediately determine how well the day will progress: Can you smell the presence of rain in the air? Are the pollens scattered throughout the atmosphere hinting to your itchy nose that allergy season is fast approaching? Whichever the case, it’s obvious; the environment is communicating with you. In “Arts of the Contact Zone”, Mary Louise Pratt defines contact zones as “the space in which transculturation takes place – where two different cultures meet and inform each other, often in highly asymmetrical ways.” Both “Arts of the Contact Zone” and David Abram’s “Animism and the Alphabet” attempt to form an interpretation between the relationship of our natural environment and our everyday lives. According to both the author’s writing, Pratt’s concept of contact zone is useful in helping us become better acquainted with our natural ally – the environment.

Pratt’s definition of contact zone can be applied to our everyday lives. A contact zone is a comparison of the differences between two clashing cultures or ideas in general. In “Animism and the Alphabet”, Abra¬m believes the environment and civilization are of these so-called competing cultures because both attempt to communicate with one another. In his writing, Socrates and Phaedrus’s have a heated debate on whether or not humans have the ability to adapt these so-called different cultures. As mentioned, one culture was to “ponder the tree from outside of its world” and the other was to ponder “from outside of the world in which both oneself and the tree were active participants” (45). According to Socrates, nature does not offer him a worthwhile amount of knowledge as compared to the bountiful bank of knowledge within his city’s stonewalls. Phaedrus, on the other hand,...
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