This reciprocal becoming of seer and seen, the outwardness of perception and the inwardness of things, is what Maurice Merleau-Ponty called “the flesh of the world”. In choosing the word “flesh”, the philosopher made clear that what he was suggesting was not some abstract or transcendent unity, but a comingling of different registers of carnality. Seeing the world as flesh opens the door to new (or very old) ways of thinking human and non-human life-worlds. It becomes (again) possible to speak of eros of nature, an ecology of desire.
My own understanding of these ideas is shaped a lifetime of revelatory experiences in the desert. Standing alongside the life forms I encounter there, the individual bodies of cactus and creosote, I am aware of a flood of thoughts and perceptions crossing and re-crossing horizons of the landscape and what I call myself. I carry home what I can, in traces left on/in my body like so many unexposed images. And then, using various techniques, I try to build pictures that say something about my experiences: of recognition and reunion, capacious being beyond the fixed and impoverished identities afforded by a market-driven culture.