“So what are the essays in Being Alive actually about? Well, they’re about skills like sawing and kite flying; about Chinese calligraphy, line drawing, Australian aboriginal painting, native Alaskan storytelling, spiders, the art of walking, the art of being in weather … But that isn’t the half of it. These essays are really about becoming. About breaking down the great divide between human beings and the natural world. It’s impossible to cover all of the subjects and ideas that are part of Being Alive in this review, so I’ll focus briefly on the concepts that made most impact on me and that I believe will be of most interest to readers of EarthLines.
The key theme that runs throughout Ingold’s work is movement. Our humanity, whatever that might be, doesn’t come fully formed but is continually made and remade in our movements along the ways of life. Life, for Ingold, is an ongoing, unending process of wayfaring: ‘My contention is that wayfaring is the fundamental mode by which living beings inhabit the earth. Every such being has, accordingly, to be imagined as the line of its own movement or – more realistically – as a bundle of lines.’
“Amidst all these lines of movement-in-being (‘The wind is its blowing, the stream is the running of water. I am what I am doing. I am not an agent but a hive of activity’) Ingold sees the human being as so perfectly entangled in his environment that the two become inextricable. In this context, the concept of ‘meshwork’ is critical to Ingold, and so much more adequately represents what he is saying than the concept of ‘network’: ‘The web of life is not a network of connected points, but a meshwork of interwoven lines.’”