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<nettime> First International Festival of Technoshamanism
Carsten Agger on Fri, 4 Apr 2014 09:34:31 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> First International Festival of Technoshamanism

This event will take place in Arraial d'Ajuda, Bahia, Brazil. The
people behind the event describe it like this:

"Tecnoshamans from the entire world put their energies in movement to
make the 1st International Tecnoshamanism Festival happen from April
23rd to 30th. We want it to be a magical gathering that will provoke
a profound experience to think time, technology, Earth, the future
of humanity, alien ways of living, shamanic and scientific knowledge

Following the camping, hack lab, free radio, TAZ, tent of cure,
debates, workshops and party style, we will be among the ITAPECO
permaculture institute and the Cultural house of Aldeia Velha of the
Pataxó indigenous people."

But what is technoshamanism? I spent the last week translating an
article explaining the subject by the Brazilian writer and scholar
Fabiane Borges, which I will insert below. The article was originally
written as a presentation for Transmediale 2014.

A PDF of the text with notes, images, references etc. can be found at

The event is still in need of crowdfunding, among other things to pay
for food and transportation. If you think the concept is interesting,
please consider chipping in at http://catarse.me/en/tecnoxamanismo


Carsten Agger


By Fabiane M. Borges*

Translated by Carsten Agger+

Many people have an idea as to what "technoshamanism" means. These ideas
are generic and point towards something between science and religion, or
between technology and ecstasy. I prefer to present this as a subject
which is under construction - a challenge we are all currently facing,
and to which we need to find solutions.

This text will cover a small number of ecological, anthropological and
philosophical concepts which I will try to delineate clearly, even if
they may seem shrouded in mist. For reference I will use such thinkers
as Viveiros de Castro, Bruno Latour, Fabiá Ludueña, among others. It is
important to emphasize that the concept of technoshamanism is open and
means many things to many people. This text is only an attempt to bring
about a few clarifications in the apparent deadlock between two
seemingly opposed forces.

I will divide the text in seven parts:

1- The tragedy of the Guarani Kaiowa
2- The Maracanã Village
3- Earthlings versus Humans
4- Xawara and the water from Heaven
5- Perspectivismo and ontological inversion
6- Transversal shamanism,  dirty or noisy
7- Technoshamanism


	I will begin by presenting a contemporary tragedy. I am talking about a
community of 12,000 Guarani-Kaiowá Indians from the Indian village
Bororo in Mato Grosso do Sul, situated in the city of Dourados. The
lands that the Brazilian government had given to the Guarani-Kaiowá in
previous decades became disputed during the military dictatorship. These
indigenous lands became the objects of barter between the State and
rural businesses. The lands were invaded by industrial farming,
destroyed by monoculture and surrounded by barbed wire, and the
Guarani-Kaiowá lost their lands altogether or were relocated.

	The Kaiowás have an enormous mortality rate due to fights between
Indians and white people as well as malnutrition, alcoholism and
excessive drug abuse. What really frightens the Indians and their
supporters, however, is the alarming number of suicides. I believe that
the word "epidemic" is the one best suited to qualify a practise of
great numbers of suicides (at the end of the 2000 decade the norm was
between fifty and sixty suicides every year). The majority of those who
practise jejuvy (death by hanging or strangulation) are adolescents -
these also account for a large percentage of the community.

	I will proceed to qualify these deaths as an epidemic, attempting at
the same time to make it absolutely clear that what is killing the
Guarani-Kaiowá is the same Xawara that is affecting the lands of the
Yamomami, since xawara means "epidemic", a sickness caused by the
pollution caused by the digging of gold, the symbol of development.

                Scene from the film Terra Vermelha  - 2008

	I will make clear that Jejuvy is a ritual form of suicide based in the
cultural behaviour of the Guarani-Kaiowá. According to the Guaraní, the
soul resides in the word, and if the word cannot be expressed, if there
is space for it to be uttered, it will be suffocated. For this reason,
the suicides are by strangulation or hanging, so that the word will not
be lost and may be able to return at some other time. The Guaraní
believe in a kind of reincarnation or, rather, in a concentrated energy
which does not disintegrate. In the Guaraní worldview, death by cutting
or stabbing implies the total loss of the word, since it fades away and
its form loses its consistency. When they commit jejuvy it is because
there still exists a cultural belief that some day it will once again be
possible to express oneself, since suicide by cutting or stabbing would
imply a complete nihilism and abandonment of their ancestral culture.
The ritual character of these suicides does not mean that the village
does not suffer. These practices fill the village with sorrow and
nourish the pessimism of the Guaraní1.

	In 2008, the Italian-raised Chilean director Marco Bechis was shooting
the film "Birdwatchers". For that movie, Bechis used people from that
very village as actors, including political leaders. I recommend that
everybody should watch this film. It is a visually and narratively very
interesting movie; as a work of documentary fiction, it is one of the
great films about the Indians of Brazil.   It explores the questions
concerning the struggle for the ancestral lands and the suicides as well
as the complicated lives of the contemporary Guaraní, suspended as they
are between the indigenous culture and the white people's city. It
follows a young man's initiation into shamanism and does a good job in
exposing the cultural beliefs that underlie the suicides among other
things. The film is not without malice and presents a number of
strategies of the Guaraní for survival, for relating to the market, for
sexuality between Indians and non-Indians. It stands out as an important
film within the cinema directed towards indigenous matters.

	Ambrósio Kaiowa, who was one of the leading characters in the film, was
murdered in December  2013. Was that because the film was gradually
gaining popularity? Because Ambrósio had become well-known as an actor
and thus had more credibility and bargaining power in the struggle for
land? Because he had become more empowered? It is presently unknown if
this was the ultimate reason of his death. The reasons are not very
clear, but his death represents an enormous loss for the Guarani Kaiowá
and their supporters.

	In the second half of 2013, before Ambrósio's death, a group of Guarani
Kaiowá sent an open letter declaring that if their lands were not given
back to them, they would die on them anyway. They were threatening to
commit a kind of collective suicide or even starve themselves to death
on their ancestral lands (on this point, the letter is not very clear2)
if the government would not intervene and bring about the devolution of
their ancestral lands which are now occupied by rural businessmen. The
response to this threat from social networks was enormous. Thousands of
Brazilians added the surname Guarani Kaiowa to their name on social
networks, and there were many demonstrations all over the country by
indigenous as well as non-indigenous people in support of the struggle
of the Guaraní.

	The Guaraní are losing their word and their world, the former to
strangulation and the latter to environmental devastation. Viveiros de
Castro likes to say that the Guaraní are specialists in the end of the
world, since they have been losing more and more of the world since the
16th century.  They are losing the kind of world that has biodiversity,
forests and clean rivers, to one that is modern, paved, full of
factories and cars, polluted, and completely explored.

	In spite of the fact that a large number of Indians agree with the
modern ways of production and take part in the destruction of their
lands and their customs, and whether this is due to the allure of the
marketplace or because of the new religions which are constantly
harassing them and demonizing their customs and beliefs, there is still
a strong resistance from many groups who want to continue to live like
Indians. This can even turn into a survival strategy given the strong
and insistent prejudice faced by Indians that have been evicted from
their lands.  From the point of view of the average white person,
Indians and their descendants are always seen as half-beast, backwards,
 lazy vagabonds. This is one of the reasons why elder Indians often
admonish the young people to wear their traditional costumes and paint,
and walk around in groups, since in that way they become stronger,
almost like a force of nature and have more appeal in their quest for
land and historical repairs, as opposed to what happens if they adhere
completely to the white man's project and become marginalized in the big


Simultaneously with this great national commotion in support of the
Guaraní tragedy, which made so many people change their names, also in
2013 the Maracanã village in Rio de Janeiro received eviction notices,
being the target of much interest from government and business. For the
World Cup to happen it is necessary to obey the orders from FIFA, and
this is added to a wave of gentrification in large urban centers all
over the world; cities are attending to the interests of the market and
not to those of their inhabitants. Thus was established a major conflict
between the State and activists over the possession of the Maracanã
Indian Village.

This village has 150 years of history. It was originally donated by the
Duke of Saxony3 to be a centre for the study of indigenous societies and
plants. Later, it became the first headquarters of SPI  (Serviço de
Proteção aos índios, the former Brazilian service for Indian affairs).
In 1953, it became the country's first Indian museum. In 1978, the
museum was transferred to Botafogo in Rio De Janeiro, and slowly the
now-defunct museum was occupied by Indians from various ethnic groups
from Brazil and Latin America, and thus became the Maracanã Indian
Village.  In 2013, 17 different ethnic groups were found living in the

Instead of focusing on cultural diversity and on the difference between
Brazil and other countries and thus investing money to gain value from
the fact that our country "still" has indigenous people in its
territory, all of which could enable a different kind of tourism and a
more ecological and democratic vision for the future, the state has
opted to rely on the executives from FIFA and offer the Indians money
for leaving the Aldeia for some distant place outside the city with no
connection historical or otherwise with the Indians, and where they are
unable to survive in the long term.

For many of the Maracanã Village's Indian inhabitants and supporters,
having an indigenous, multi-ethnic space in a major city such as Rio de
Janeiro is something that strengthens the cultural foundations of the
Brazilian people itself while creating a bridge between civil society,
especially young people and students, and a part of Brazilian history
which predates the European colonization. Many of the young people who
frequent the village have radically changed their way of thinking about
the world as well as their actions in life because of the rituals, the
dances and the music they learned in the village while experiencing
processes of collective work, interethnic collaboration, a new
conception of time and connection to the practice of magic4.

It is obvious that when so many ethnic groups are united things will
become complicated and there will be disagreements and disputes. That is
part of the process, however, and it is possible to create a consensus
and make political decisions. What is impossible to understand is that
this is not allowed to happen, that the Indians are prevented from
creating a unique space in the city, that they cannot be allowed to
bring their knowledge to the city and bring the indigenous conception of
the world closer to civil society. This is also true of the
Afro-Brazilian communities which have been evicted from the major
cities, and of other groups like the Roma, the homeless movement, etc.
All of these groups represent ways of life that are being eliminated by
the market's financial power.  The ongoing fight is precisely the
struggle between diversity and utilitarianism. The winner always seems
to be the homogenization promoted by the market.

I give these two examples, of the Guarani-Kaiowá and the Maracanã
Village, in order to give notice about two tragedies. On the one hand we
have the Indians who to want to stay in the countryside within their
closed ethnic group so that they can preserve their customs and rituals,
invest in the maintenance of land and nature and fight for the land of
their ancestors (which is true of a considerable part of the
Guarani-Kaiowá); on the other hand we have those who want to mix with
urban life  but do so in order to create a space for the appraisal of
and immersion in the indigenous cultures of Brazil, who want to open a
space of reference between countryside and city in a desire to construct
new forms of sustainability from the ancestral teachings as well as from
traditional knowledge about handicraft production, agriculture,
nutrition and clothing, among other things5.


Bruno Latour6 speaks of a war of values between the earthbound and the
humans, between those who are committed to Earth and those committed to
modernity. It is a war over the world in which we wish to live. An
ecological minority dismissed as apocalyptic fanatics on one side, and
on the other the worshippers of Xawara, the lovers of metal, those who
guarantee that our current geological period is the anthropocene and
bring about the end of biodiversity, forests and rivers, those who
actively promote the human tattoo on the face of the Earth.

The tragedy of the Guaraní and the tragedy of the Maracanã Village are
the tragedy of the earthbound. It is a tragedy because it is set up as a
heroic death on the background of many years of struggle and resistance
which they are constantly losing.  The lovers of the Earth are losing to
the worshippers of development at any cost.  Both of these stories, the
one about the Guarani-Kaiowá and the one about the Maracanã village,
contain an element of the war which Latour is speaking about. On one
side we have the poor, dirty bums: lazy, retarded, subjectivist
infantile hippies, losers, misfits, spiritualists, barbarians. On the
other side the urban people, committed to modernity, growth,
development, enrichment, security, productivity, objectivity, and
expansionism. These opposed camps are, in spite of not being very
clearly defined, disputing modes of existence and ways of relating to
Earth and to Life itself. One is the antithesis of the other, and it
should not be necessary to enlargen this image too much in order to see
the disproportion between the two sides.


Now I wish to speak about another indigenous group, the Yanomami.  The
Yanomami shaman Davi Kopenaza wrote the book A Queda do Céu (The Falling
Sky/20137). In that book he describes what the Yanomami shamans talk
about when they meet in order to discuss the future of the world. In his
book, he talks about the Xawara  (which means disease or epidemic). Once
again the word "epidemic" appears, and that is why I noted above that
this is an important word. The epidemic of suicides among the Guaraní is
also provoked by the Xawara. It is a kind of living entity, a force of
destruction. The Xawara8 is the fumes emitted by gold when it is exhumed
from the ground. Actually, it is the fumes emitted by metals in general.
For the Yanomami, gold and other metals are the skeleton of the Earth.
If they are withdrawn from the entrails of the Earth, it will lose its
structural support and may sink.

The Yanomami have a somewhat more privileged position than the
Guarani-Kaiowá or the urban Indians of the Maracanã village, since they
live in a large reservation between Roraima, Amazonas and Venezuela,
which is actually larger than Holland. In spite of that, they are unable
to contain the Xawara. The area in question is rich in minerals and has
a lot of gold. Golddigging is forbidden there, but there is no way to
control the borders of the whole reservation. If the government removes
the mining operations from one location, they are immediately
reestablished some other place, since the government does not take any
heed of the future of the golddiggers. These, importantly, are
accustomed to a life of high risk and hopes of great earnings. If there
is no access to gold, what will become of the culture that surrounds
gold mining? This is a complex problem, but from the point of view of
the forest and of the people living in the forest, gold mining is just
as damaging as monoculture and cattle farming. The damages reach much
further than the areas where these industries are performed - they
pollute rivers, kill fish, cut down the forest and cause contagious
diseases through the invisible fumes that are constantly spread,
attacking the hearts of Indians, of white people, of the elements and of
the sky itself.

Davi says that Xawara, the epidemic, is in his village and is leading
his people to its end. Hekurabe are the familiar spirits of the pajés or
healers. It is they who support the heart of the sky, but even the very
sky's heart is infected by the Xawara. When a pajé dies the Hekurabe get
very angry, and a lot of pajés have died. When the last tree has fallen
and there are no more pajés, there will be no more Hekurabe to support
the sky, and it will break in half and start dropping pieces on the
Earth, which bereft of its former skeletal structure will open up
enormous sink holes into which white people and Indians alike will fall.
 Humankind will become extinct, as it has happened many times before.

I wish to insist on this profecy, not as the words of an exotic shaman
unable to express philosophical ideas, but as an insight that points to
a very concrete situation.

For the Yanomami to see means to dream, and according to Davi white
people only dream about themselves. They are unable to dream about
anything else. This means that they are unable to see what other
elements of nature see, they are only concerned with themselves.
Viveiros qualifies this as a kind of narcisisstic condition, people who
are so self-centered that they are unable to even dream of anything
other than themselves. White people are only able to dream about
themselves. They sleep, but they see nothing. This is why they think
that what the Indians say is false or a bunch of lies, because they do
not see anything but themselves.

There are two key points in this profecy: 1) Humankind will beome
extinct, as has already happened many times, and  2)  White people are
only able to dream about themselves.


Perspectivism is the irresponsibility of Viveiros de Castro, as he tells
us in his book  Inconstância da Alma Selvagem (2013). An
irresponsibility, because he has the audacity to create a universal
theory that could give a unified explanation of Amerindian thought. I
like it when he terms it his irresponsibility, because he recognizes
that attempting to create a single foundation of thoughts for different
peoples that neither speak the same language nor share the same beliefs
is a somewhat megalomaniac gesture. In his book Metafísicas Canibales9,
he attempts to work with the idea of a flat geography, of the
temperature and other geographic characteristics that could justify this
cohesion of Amerindian thought, which seems to be remarkably consistent.
If perspectivism were only a philosophical speculation, because it
failed to contemplate the diversity of Amerindian thought, I would say
that it is a necessary fiction that it makes perfect sense to consider
in the times we are living in right now. Perspectivism contemplates the
numerous battles and somehow sustains the issues particular for each
group and for every ethnicity, precisely because its proposition
challenges an imaginary colonizer from the dominant group. It proposes a
different perspective, where the cultural difference should not only be
respected, but also transformed. It proposes a different ontology which
demands its own place in the human imagination.

Perspectivism is thus the proposal of an ontological inversion, a change
of philosophical paradigm. It is a scathing criticism of European
antropocentrism; it is a world view which questions the structure of
Western thinking. It questions the privileged position given to human
beings at the expense of so many other beings.

Viveiros tells us that an Amerindian has a predatory way of thinking. He
knows that he is a predator of certain animals, and he knows that he is
the prey of certain other animals, so he knows that he is part of a
natural cycle, not the master of the universe. Apart from that, there is
a notion of horizontality with respect to other elements, other kinds of
things. Amerindian nomad thought contains an ecological way of thinking.
It will not endure the enslavement of the elements, which is crucial in
building a civilization. Instead of subjugating the elements in
categorical formats (buildings, temples, cities), they use the elements
to fulfill their own necessities and afterwards leave so that nature can
reclaim them. Material things serve for a while and afterwards they are
given back to Nature. This is the reason for all the moving around, the
constant exile: When they return to the same spot, Nature has already
reclaimed it. It is an ecological methodology, a technology based on
coexistence with biodiversity. The dead are among us just like other
invisible elements. Your deceased mother could be a stone or a fish.
There is no superiority over death, nor over matter.

If we continue with Viveiros, the difference between the evolutionary
and the Amerindian perspective is that the former believes that there is
one nature and many cultures, while the latter thinks of it as many
natures and one culture.  For the Indian, the only culture that exists
is human culture. Everything that exists is human.  A stone, the moon, a
river, a jaguar, the deceased - all of these are human, but they are
dressed in different clothes, behave differently and have different
views on reality. For the Indians, a meeting of shamans may mean the
same thing as that of a congregation of tapirs in a mudhole - each group
is performing its own rituals.

Of course, if we delve into the differences between groups, we will find
different priorities for each species and a particular creation myth for
each of them, but the important thing here is to understand that the
human foundation shared by all beings also serves to connect them and
keeps them in a state of constant communication. This understanding is
very important: behind the nature of a stone lies a human culture which
is also the basis for inter-species communication.

The indigenous animism produces a conception of alliances and groupings
between different elements or species. A human being and an animal, a
river and a tree. For example, one kind of human could have more in
common with a cold, rocky and hard nature than with an Indian. The
nature of a thing is not related to that thing by similarity, but by
disposition. Belonging to one  kind of animal rather than another says
something about the nature of each, but the culture is the same.
Basically, all are human and think, dream, expresses themselves and have
a life in common. This allows them to communicate and to associate with
each other. This is the opposite of anthropocentrism precisely because
humans have no privileges relative to everything else that exists.

The shaman is a kind of diplomat who has the ability to assume several
of these points of view. He is able to contact all those different
forms; he can change his clothes and visit the points of view of many
different beings. There may be a pact between him and those beings, a
mutual affinity but also a repulsion. He is able to leave his own point
of view behind and see himself from the outside and see the Indians of
his tribe from the point of view of the tree or of the birds, the moon,
the stars, or any other object or material. This ability means that the
shaman has a deeper insight into the nature of things than most Indians,
because he has improved this technique by intense training. That is why
his madness, his schizofrenia and his perceptual deviation is considered
to be wisdom. He returns so that he can tell about the things that he
has seen and heard. Depending on the extent of his training, he can
assume more than one point of view at the same time. He is able to
incarnate in other beings. This is an ability that he has because he
worked hard to achieve it. There are techniques of ecstasy, of
sensibility and of inter-species communication that allow him to
perceive that which is behind things and appearances so that he may
reconnect his human foundation with the human foundation of any other
element.  But the shamans of other species also have the ability to do
this to him, and that is why he suffers himself incarnations and becomes
possessed. In the image below it is shown how indigenous painters
represent the incarnation of the pajé: he is lying on his back as if he
was carried on the bodies of the animals.

It is important to view shamanism as a methodology, as a technology for
the production of knowledge. It is also very important for
technoshamanism: The realization that apart from any possible encounter
between technology and shamanism, shamanism is itself a technology.  It
is not just about ecstasy, but about transhuman communication.

After gaining a deeper understanding of shamanism as a technology, we
may have found some clues as to how to think about technoshamanism:

1- Shamanism is a technology which allows shamans to leave themselves
behind and assume points of view that are different from their own.

2- Shamanism is an ecological theory that is capable of coexisting with
a general biodiversity.

3- Shamanism is a theory of guided and controlled hallucination.

Jeremy Narby, a Canadian anthropologist who was raised in Switzerland
and has done much research on the medical knowledge of Peruvian Indians,
has done a thorough investigation of the idea of hallucinations as
knowledge. In his book "The Cosmic Serpent"10 he tells us that when he
went to Peru to study plants with the Asháninka, he always asked them
how they came to know all these things about plants, and they always
gave the same answer: The plant teaches them. He had to take a lot of
ayahuasca to realize that the teachers of the forest is the forest
itself, that there was a living intelligence in all that existed there -
living things that coexisted and possessed subjectivity and
intelligence. The forest and life itself had their own "networking",
they would negotiate, improvise, structure and restructure themselves.
The Indian in the midst of all this is more of a participant in a
massive interaction between living beings.

This notion of intelligent elements and material objects being sentient
and possessing a subjectivity is actually being considered by
contemporary speculative philosophy. This is directly related to the
scientific research in physics and biology, among others.  For the
Amerindian, this connection is the humanity which all elements have in
common, it is the common foundation.  It should be noted that this
common, all-pervading humanity is not necessarily identical to the
humanity of the anthropocentric white man, it is another paradigm. It is
still, however, a humanity which is able to feel, think and watch out
for things and which possesses humor, feelings, sensations, experience
and similar attributes. For some currents of Amerindian thought, this
city-building and world-destroying white human is something that they
once were and no longer want to be11. This is in opposition to the
Western idea that there is an animal nature which is common to humans
and animals, and that humans have step by step removed themselves from
Nature to become human through their anthropotechnics. Anthropotechnics
are human techniques which have historically been used to produce
humans. Ludueña analizes these techniques in his book Comunidade dos
Espectros12, where he especially analyzed theology and law, which he
considers to be two strong sources of anthropotechnics for the
manufacturing of humanity. He raises the question of biopower and
affirms that it did not come about through the evolution of a control
society but was already present in the very first approaches to the
formation of a civilized humanity. Anthropo-technology will always
presuppose a zoo-politics to control and domesticate animal nature which
in European thought would be the place from which humanity has emerged.

If we want to insist on this concept of Ludueña's we can say that
according to the view of the Amerindians, the separation between them
and the white people occurred in exactly that very moment when humans
began inventing their anthropotechnics of civility and thus they turned
away from us, because this civility implies something which nature does
not want to become. Some indigenous groups believe that their ancestors
fled from these assembly lines for the production of humans, that they
seceded and rejected these techniques, because to them they represented
the end of the world. And, they add, as it  happened before, it will
happen again.

And so, when the profecy of the Yanomami pajés resurfaces by the mouth
of Davi Kopenawa, saying that humanity will become extinct, as has
happened before and will happen again, I ask myself: How many worlds are
we talking about, and who are our ancestors? These Indians say that they
are the men from whom they departed, along with nature. There is an
ontological hostility between Indians and white people which is
basically unrelated to, or maybe even contrary to, the evolution of the
species since (and this is pure speculation on my part) that which white
people call evolution the Indians might perceive as a tendency of some
groups to impose themselves on other beings. That is, it is not
civilization but something else, maybe a tendency to exploit others.

But for the purposes of discussion, I ask: How can it be that the
Amerindians report the end of the world so well? Why do they insist with
such conviction that this already happened before? What exactly did they
have to turn away and escape from? The colonizers, maybe, or something
before that? There is not much we can do except speculate, since these
societies mostly do not have any written language. The Yanomami still
say that white people write their thoughts on the treetops. We write
when we dream. White people need to write because they can't dream; they
only dream about themselves and about their goods.

But white people only know how to dream about themselves. They only
think about themselves, and that is exactly why they cannot see the
human foundation of everything that exists. They are narcissist,
egocentric, arrogant and irresponsible, unable to hear other voices
which are not their own. From the Amerindian point of view, the words
"see" and "dream" are practically interchangeable. It is in dreams that
one learns things and where mysteries are revealed. This common human
foundation enables a general understanding, but it is necessary to dream
in order to see; one must dream while sleeping, dream while using
entheogens, and dream while awake. Dreaming is a fundamental technology
for Amerindians and should be considered a technique of emancipation
which is very different from the civilizing anthropotechnics.


To think of technoshamanism it is essential to understand its
association with garbage, with filth, with excess, with overabundance.
"Dirty" shamanism13 thus surfaces as a complex concept which at first
might seem offensive to those who think of shamanism as something
sacred. I will, however, now make an effort to change that idea.

In his book Metafísicas Canibales Viveiros de Castro talks about the
relation between profecy and horizontal shamanism, and similarly between
priesthood and vertical shamanism. He attempts to create an
approximation between Amerindian shamanism and Judeo-Christian religion.
Horizontal shamanism (profecy) is roughly defined as a state of presence
in and belonging to Nature and the mystery behind things. It happened
before the arrival of the colonist, when Indians and (obviously) their
shamans would have a balanced relationship with knowledge, which would
be promoted and expressed at the same time, intuitively and openly,
without restraint and without promoting the powers that be. This is what
happened with the prophets who guided the people through their
conversations with gods and angels - through intuition and clairvoyance.
Transversal shamanism began with the arrival of the white man who
reconfigured the pajé's power, introduced the idea of a personal
identity, built a hierarchy between subjects and imposed their imperial
and monotheist on the indigenous beliefs. Human beings were placed
vertically above all other things and thus created a place for
vigilance, for a law to govern knowledge and morality. This is exactly
how it is with priesthood, which in the Judeo-Christian religions
precisely had the role of controlling the people, the laws and the
religious hierarchy.

According to this reasoning, transversal shamanism is a mixture of all
this; a mixture of profecy and priesthood, of shamanism and priesthood,
of polytheism and Catholic lithurgy, of humanizing policies with the
power of herbs and rituals, of polytheism and the ten commandments, of
the Holy Fathers and the African cults, of all those beliefs which are
half one and half the other and the minority Christians. The Amerindian
shamanhood was penetrated by all these ideas and created a state of
syncretism where ancestral beliefs blend with theological categories.

All these things then blended with the white people's own transversal
and syncretist ways of life - the heathen festivals, orgies,
drunkenness, assassinations, firearms, city-building,
garbage-production; with the diseases, the misery, the betrayals of
Empire, the devastation of the Earth, the irresponsible abuse of the
environment - the concept of the Earth as a repository of resources for
the unrestricted use of mankind.

This whirlpool of mixed information is noiseocracy.  Dirty shamanism
could mean the capacity to produce ecstasy and transcommunication within
this universe of noises where everything is perceived to sound, where
everything vibrates and emits sounds, where everything converges and
diverges for moments at a time, and where this enables listening rather
than deafness. The experience of radical noiseocracy is an important
state in technoshamanism.


Estamira, the heroine of Marcos Prados' eponymous film14, is a good
example of technoshamanism: She is the pajé of garbage, the schizofrenic
prophetess of refuse. She is a woman who represents the state of
putrefaction, the explosions of gas, who literally cohabitates with the
"leftovers" of mankind. It is from civilization's garbage dump that this
"dirty shaman" speaks to us of other times and their accomplishments.
She hallucinates about garbage. What method could be more effective if
you want to know about a planet's population? Her shamanism is more than
transversal, it is motivated by surplus, by the misplaced, by that which
is in excess.  I will not deny that she did recycle things, but it is
all the filth that turned her into something special, into a specialist
on the spetrum of exclusion. If she had not been surrounded by all that
garbage, she probably would never have gone so far with the schizofrenic
connections that she produced. She became a historic figure in the hands
of the director Marcos Prado, whose deep insight emphasized the
connection between Estamira and all the world's refuse. She talks about
the smell of the garbage, of its internal implosions, of its constant
transformation, of the satellites connected to the antennas erected in
the landfill by arrogant authorities; she speaks about control and about
the illusions which create control. Although at some point in the
documentary the director creates a link between her profecies and her
mental illness which seemed to be caused by a trauma and thus presents
us with a psychoanalytic explanation of her mental problems, there are
readings of the film which ignore these attempts. In Estamira's case,
what cannot be denied is her fluent relationship with the Earth's garbage.

This is equivalent to saying that technoshamanism apart from arising
directly from a transversal shamanism is also dirty and noiseocratic. It
belongs in the garbage dump, is unclean. A significant part of what
technoshamanism affirms originates in the leftovers of scientific
thinking, from precarious laboratories, uncertain knowledge, hacking,
electronic garbage, workarounds, cats, originates from the recycling of
materials, from the duplication of already thoroughly tested scientific
results. To this we may add particular questions from social movements
related to feminism, to the movements of queers, of blacks, for free
software, of the landless, of  indigenous people, of river communities,
of homeless people and the unemployed among countless others who also
perceive through their own noises, their own dissidency, their own
garbage. To all this I want to add the exploration of the relationship
between the body and technology, interspecies communication with
material objects, elements and plants, as well as interception of
electromagnetic waves from the most remote spaces, from the north and
the south poles, from the buildings destroyed by war, from those that
survived, who tell passive stories that can be recorded by DIY
instruments. Not to mention the issues of the environment, space,
extraterrestrial space, space culture, fiction, our relationship with
the cosmos, astronomy and astrology using mechatronic devices and signage.

What I want to say with all of this, is:

1) Technoshamanism originates in a wastebin of excess, leftovers,
remains, noises, discontinuous processes, from transversalised and
synchretist shamanisms, from the incorporation of ideas, cultures, from
social and cultural cannibalism, from workarounds, overlapping political
ideologies, from electronic mining.

2) Technoshamanism recycles materials and subjectivites; it recycles
environments, reconnects human beings with the Earth as well as the
universe; it is a reconnection (a "religare") without any representation
or univocity, a kind of perceptual opening, an expansion of our
attention, an opening towards the full spectrum of phenomena which
surrounds us, towards mystery; it is a lesson in humility regarding the
existence of things.

3) Technoshamanism is dirty because its origin is in humankind's
material and subjective garbage dumps. This does not mean, however, that
one should underestimate the power of shamanism, on the contrary: It
means that we attribute powers to the garbage beyond those of industrial
recycling which organizes, separates, withholds and exploits the garbage
collector. But technoshamanism attributes powers to garbage precisely
because it is from this confluence of misery that we are able to
perceive which kind of species we are, and from that specific condition
we can begin to extend some fields of convergence in order to transform
ourselves into something more interesting.

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