Hermann Hesse

Becoming AnimalAn Earthly CosmologyDavid AbramPantheon: 310 pp., $26.95David Abram's first book, "The Spell of the Sensuous," was one of those rare, mind-altering books (an Aldous Huxley or Hermann Hesse on the literary Richter scale — and don't you dare say those books are for kids). It is a book that makes you think hard about language, how we use it and where it first came from (sounds and movements in the natural world), not to mention the magic that can happen when it actually works. "Becoming Animal" is, in many ways, a sequel, an exploration of how cutting the roots, the tentacles of meaning that first tied us to nature and to our own wild natures has paved the way to self-...