This inquiry builds on the work of such thinkers as David Abram and Maurice Merleau-

Ponty; like their work, it addresses the fact that people in the Western developed world,

through their acculturations, sacrifice intimacy with the natural world. The article explores

one remedial measure: the Yamato Kotoba language of the Japanese. This is a language

before the Chinese injection of spoken and written words, one that preserves the earlier

words better suited, the authors propose, to expressing the interpenetrating experience of

the person with—in this case the Japanese—natural setting. Such an intimacy appears, for

instance, in Basho’s Haiku. In the same vein, Japanese Koto Dama deploys the spiritual power

that resides in words—as they are both spoken and unspoken. These linguistic phenomena

are explored and explained insofar as they preserve, capture, and celebrate human intimacy

with nature. In the words of Merleau-Ponty, they re-member humans as “flesh of the world’s


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