Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Michael Taussig - Shamanism, Colonialism and the Wild Man. A Study in Terror and Healing (pt. 2)

In my previous post about Michael Taussig's 1986 ethnography "Shamanism, Colonialism and the Wild Man. A Study in Terror and Healing", I wrote that Taussig's description of the montage-like (dis-)order of Indian healing rituals is very reminiscent of Deleuze's and Guattari's concept of the rhizome. It must be stressed though that where Deleuze and Guattari tend towards the obscurantist and the disembodied, Taussig's work remains in close contact with the filth and grime of the physical world.

Below I quote Taussig's description of yagé-intoxicated montage-like (dis-)order in full, as I found it beautiful and inspiring.

"Montage: alterations, cracks, displacements and swerves all evening long - the sudden interruptions, always interruptions to what at first appears the order of the ritual and later takes on little more than an excuse of order, and then dissolves into a battering of wave after wave of interruptedness into illusory order, mocked order, colonial order in the looking glass. Interruptions for shitting, for vomiting, for a cloth to wipe one's face, for going to the kitchen to gather coals for burning copal incense, for getting roots of magical chondur from where nobody can remember where they were last put, for telling and retelling a joke (especially for that), for stopping the song in mid-flight to yell at the dogs to stop barking ... and in the cracks and swerves, a universe opens out.

Montage: the manner of the interruptedness; the sudden scene changing which breaks up any attempt at narrative ordering and which trips up sensationalism. Between the swirling uncertainty of nausea and the abrupt certainty of the joke there lies little if any room for either the sensationalistic or the mysterious.

Montage: suddenly altering situations of the group withing the room and mood-slides associated with these changing situations, scenes, as it were, from the art of trompe-l'oeil, passing in a flash from night to day through ages of time from despair to joy and back again without any guarantee of happy endings.

Montage: flashing back and forth from self to group; not simply self-absorption broken up and scrambled by participation in the group or with one or two members of it, but also through such flashing back and forth from self to group and group to self a sort of playground or testing-ground is set up for comparing hallucinations with the social field from which they spring. Hence the very grounds of representation itself are raked over.


Montage: the 'interior" scenes of dots and dashes of color and of phantasms, coming and going, death scenes, above all fragments of things - shiny blades of grass quivering under the rain, a tiny feathered segment of intricate pattern (the edge of a bird's wing, perhaps?), the quavering of yagé songs butting into the river's rush - all metamorphosing into memory images as the past gains force in its rush into the present "now-time" of the Jetztzeiten where time stands still as an image in which past and future converge explosively.

Montage: oscillating in and out off oneself; feeling sensations so intensely that you become the stuff sensed. But then you are standing outside the experience and coldly analyzing it as Bertolt Brecht so wanted from his "alienation effects" in his epic theater. Only here, in the theater of yagé nights in the Putumayo foothills, the A-effect, standing outside of one's own defamiliarized experience and analyzing that experience, is inconstant and constantly so, flickering, alternating with absorption in the events and their magic. Perhaps that is the formula for the profoundest possible A-effect, standing within and standing without in quick oscillation."


Andres said...

algunas cosas es mejor no saberlas, no te parece?

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