Wild for Wade Davis

ExpedCopDavis has two TED talks up on the web site. The second is about belief and ritual. You can find it here.

In his speeches, Wade expounds on what unites us.

“We all share the same adaptive imperatives—we’re all born, we all bring our children into the world, we go through initiation rites, we have to deal with the inexorable separation of death. So it shouldn’t surprise us that we all sing, we all dance, we all have art. But what’s interesting is the unique cadence of the song, the rhythm of the dance in every culture.”

There are some light-hearted moments too, especially when Davis recounts ingesting shamanistic drugs

“To have that powder blown up your nose is rather like being shot out of a rifle barrel lined with baroque paintings and landing in a sea of electricity,” he quips.

The Canadian-born Davis is an encyclopedia of indigenous cultures and how we’re losing them. While the losses are incalculable, especially the loss of language, Davis is never a downer.

“All of these people teach us that there are other ways of being, other ways of thinking, other ways of orienting yourself in the earth. This is an idea that if you think about can only fill you with hope,” he says.

Davis reflects on the ethnosphere, a term he coined “the sum total of all thoughts, dreams, ideals, myths, intuitions, and inspirations brought into being by the imagination since the dawn of consciousness.”

As if this wasn’t already Davis’ year, he will also deliver the Massey lectures, the prestigious week-long series of talks across Canada this fall.

One can only hope that on his Halloween tour date in Toronto, Davis will touch on the topic of his book The Serpent and the Rainbow -— the hunt for zombies.

Image: This photo was taken in August 2006 on the island of Kitava, in the Trobriand Islands of Papua New Guinea during a traditional dance celebration.
Credit: Wade Davis

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