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<nettime> Technoshamanism and wasted ontologies
Carsten Agger on Thu, 15 Jun 2017 09:55:50 +0200 (CEST)


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<nettime> Technoshamanism and wasted ontologies


http://blogs.fsfe.org/agger/2017/06/14/technoshamanism-and-wasted-ontologies/


/Interview with Fabiane M. Borges published on May 21, 2017^1
<#sdfootnote1sym>/

/By Bia Martins and Reynaldo Carvalho Translated by Carsten Agger/


In a state of permanent warfare and fierce disputes over visions
of the future, /technoshamanism/ emerges as a resistance and as
an endeavour to influence contemporary thinking, technological
production, scientific questions, and everyday practices. This is
how the Brazilian Ph.D. in clinical psychology, researcher and
essayist /Fabiane M. Borges/ presents this international network of
collaboration which unites academics, activists, indigenous people
and many more people who are interested in a search for ideas and
practices which go beyond the instrumental logic of capital. In this
interview with Em Rede, she elaborates her reflections on shamanism
as a technology for producing knowledge and indicates some of the
experiences that were made in this context.



– *At first, technology and shamanism seem like contradictory
notions or at least difficult to combine. The first refers to
the instrumental rationalism that underlies an unstoppable
developmentalist project. The second makes you think of indigenous
worldviews, healing rituals and altered states of consciousness. What
is the result of this combination?*



In a text that I wrote for the magazine /Geni^2 <#sdfootnote2sym>/ in
2015, I said this: that techno + shamanism has three quite evident meanings:

 1. The technology of shamanism (shamanism seen as a technology for the
    production of knowledge);

 2. The shamanism of technology (the pursuit of shamanic powers through
    the use of technology);

 3. The combination of these two fields of knowledge historically
    obstructed by the Church and later by science, especially in the
    transition from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance.

Each of these meanings unfolds into many others, but here is an
attempt to discuss each one:

1) When we perceive shamanism not as tribal religions or as the
beliefs of archaic people (as is still very common) but as a
technology of knowledge production, we radically change the perception
of its meaning. The studies of e.g. ayahuasca shows that intensified
states of consciousness produces a kind of experience which reshapes
the state of the body, broadening the spectrum of sensation,
affection, and perception. These “plants of power” are probably
that which brings us closest to the “magical thinking” of native
communities and consequently to the shamanic consciousness e– that
is, to that alternative ontology, as Eduardo Viveiros de Castro
alerts us when he refers to the Amerindian ontology in his book
/Cannibal Metaphysics^3 <#sdfootnote3sym>/, or Davi Kopenawa with his
shamanic education with /yakoana/, as described in /The Falling Sky^4
<#sdfootnote4sym>/. It is obviously not only through plants of power
that we can access this ontology, but they are a portal which draws
us singularly near this way of seeing the world, life itself. Here,
we should consider the hypotheses of Jeremy Narby in his /The Cosmic
Serpent: DNA and origins of knowledge/ where he explains that the
indigenous knowledge of herbs, roots and medicine arises partly from
dreams and from the effects of entheogens.



When I say that shamanism is a technology of knowledge production,
it is because it has its own methods for constructing narratives,
mythologies, medicine and healing as well as for collecting data
and creating artifacts and modes of existence, among other things.
So this is neither ancient history nor obsolete – it lives on,
pervading our technological and mass media controlled societies and
becoming gradually more appreciated, especially since the 1960s where
ecological movements, contact with traditional communities and ways
of life as well as with psychoactive substances all became popular,
sometimes because of the struggles of these communities and sometimes
because of an increased interest in mainstream society. A question
arose: If we were to recuperate these wasted ontologies with the help
of these surviving communities and of our own ruins of narratives and
experiences, would we not be broadening the spectrum of technology
itself to other issues and questions?



2) The shamanism of technology. It is said that such theories
as parallel universes, string theory and quantum physics, among
others, bring us closer to the shamanic ontology than to the
theological/capitalist ontology which guides current technological
production. But although this current technology is geared towards
war, pervasive control and towards over-exploitation of human,
terrestrial and extra-terrestrial resources, we still possess
a speculative, curious and procedural technology which seeks
to construct hypotheses and open interpretations which are not
necessarily committed to the logic of capital (this is the meaning of
the free software, DIY and open source movements in the late 20^th and
early 21^st century).

We are very interested in this speculative technology, since in
some ways it represents a link to the lost ancestral knowledge.
This leads us directly to point 3) which is the conjunction
of technology with shamanism. And here I am thinking of an
archeology or anarcheology, since in the search for a historical
connection between the two, many things may also be freely
invented (hyperstition). As I have explained in other texts,
such as the Seminal Thoughts for a Possible Technoshamanism
<http://www.modspil.dk/docs/technoshamanism_fabi_borges.pdf>
or Ancestrofuturism – Free Cosmogony – Rituals DIY
<https://tecnoxamanismo.files.wordpress.com/2016/05/ancestrofuturismo-
cosmogonialivre-rituaisfac3a7avocc3aamesmo.pdf>, there was a Catholic
theological effort against these ancestral knowledges, a historical
inhibition that became more evident during the transition from the
Middle Ages to the Renaissance with its inquisitions, bonfires,
prisons, torture and demands for retraction. The technology which was
originally a part of popular tradition and needs passed through a
purification, a monotheist Christian refinement, and adhered to these
precepts in order to survive.



In his book /La comunidad de los espectros^5 <#sdfootnote5sym>/,
Fabián Ludueña Romandini discusses this link between science and
Catholicism, culminating in a science that was structurally oriented
towards becoming God, hence its tendency to omnipresence, omnipotence
and omniscience. Its link to capital is widely discussed by Silvia
Federici in her book /Caliban and the Witch^6 <#sdfootnote6sym>,/who
states that the massacre against witches, healers, sorcerers, heretics
and all who did not conform to the precepts of the church was
performed in order to clear the way for the introduction of industrial
society and capitalism. So two things must be taken into account here:
first, that there has been a violent decimation of ancestral knowledge
throughout Europe and its colonial extensions and secondly, that the
relationship between science/technology and the wastedontologies was
sunderedin favor of a Christian theological metaphysics.



Faced with this, techno + shamanism is an articulation which tries
to consider this historical trauma, these lost yet not annihilated
leftovers, and to recover (and reinvent) points of connection between
technology and wasted ontologies, which in our case we call shamanism
since it represents something preceding the construction of the
monotheisms and because it is more connected to the processes of
planet Earth, at least according to the readings that interest us. But
there are several other networks and groups that use similar terms and
allow other readings such as techno + magic, cyber + spirituality,
techno + animism and gnoise (gnosis + noise), among others, all
talking about more or less the same issues.

The result of this mixture is improbable. It functions as a
resistance, an awakening, an attempt to influence contemporary
thinking, technological practices, scientific questions as well as
everyday practices. These are tension vectors that drive a change in
the modes of existence and of relation to the Earth and the Cosmos,
applied to the point where people are currently, causing them to
associate with other communities with similar aspirations or desiring
to expand their knowledge. These changes are gradually taking shape,
whether with clay or silicium technology. But the thing is crazy, the
process is slow and the enemy is enormous. Given the current level of
political contention that we are currently experiencing in Brazil,
associations and partnerships with traditional communities, be they
indigenous, afro-Brazilian, Roma, aboriginal or activist settlements
(the MST^7 <#sdfootnote7sym> and its mystique), seems to make
perfect sense. It is a political renewal mixed with ancestorfuturist
worldviews.



– *You've pointed out that conceptually technoshamanism functions as
a utopian, dystopian and entropic network of collaboration. What does
this mean in practice?*



Fundamentally, we find ourselves in a state of constant war, a fierce
dispute between different visions of the future, between social and
political ontologies and between nature and technology. In this
sense, technoshamanism manifests itself as yet another contemporary
network which tries to analyze, position itself with respect to and
intervene in this context. It is configured as a utopian network
because it harbors visionary germs of liberty, autonomy, equality
of gender, ethnicity, class and people and of balance between the
environment and society that have hitherto characterized revolutionary
movements. It is dystopian because at the same time it includes a
nihilistic and depressive vision which sees no way out of capitalism,
is disillusioned by neoliberalism and feels itself trapped by the
project of total, global control launched by the world's owners. It
sees a nebulous future without freedom, with all of nature destroyed,
more competition and poverty, privation and social oppression. And it
is entropic because it inhabits this paradoxical set of forces and
maintains an improbable noise – its perpetual noisecracy, its state
of disorganization and insecurity is continuous and is constantly
recombining itself. Its improbability is its dynamism. It is within
this regime of utopia, dystopia and entropy that it promotes its ideas
and practices, which are sometimes convergent and sometimes divergent.

In practice, this manifests itself in individual and collective
projects, be they virtual or face-to-face and in the tendencies that
are generated from these. Nobody /is/ a network, people are in it from
time to time according to necessities, desires, possibilities, etc.



– *This network's meetings take place in different countries, mainly
in South America and Europe. Can you give some examples of experiences
and knowledge which were transferred between these territories?*



Some examples: Tech people who come from the European countries
to the tecnoshamanism festivals and return doing permaculture and
uniting with groups in their own countries in order to create
collective rituals very close to the indigenous ones or collective
mobilization for construction, inspired by the indigenous /mutirão/.
Installation of agroforestry in a basically extractivist indigenous
territory organized by foreigners or non-indigenous Brazilians
working together with indigenous people. The implementation of an
intranet system (peer-to-peer network) within indigenous territory
(Baobáxia). Confluence of various types of healing practices in
healing tents created during encounters and festivals, ranging from
indigenous to oriental practices, from afro-Brazilian to electronic
rituals, from Buddhist meditation to the herb bath of Brazilian
healers, all of this creating generative spontaneous states where
knowledge is exhanged and is subsequently transferred to different
places or countries. Indigenous and non-indigenous bioconstructor's
knowledge of adobe, converging in collective construction work in
MST's squatted lands (this project is for the next steps). Artistic
media practices, performance, live cinema, projection, music, and so
on, that are passed on to groups that know nothing about this. In
the end, technoshamanism is an immersive and experiential platform
for exchanging knowledge. All of this is very much derived from the
experiences of other networks and movements such as tactical media,
digital liberty, homeless movements, submediology, metareciclagem,
LGBTQ, Bricolabs, and many others. In the technoshamanism book
<https://issuu.com/invisiveisproducoes/docs/tcnxmnsm_ebook_resolution_
1>, published in 2016, there are several practices that can serve as a
reference.



– *Technoshamanism arose from networks linked to collaborative
movements such as Free Software and Do It Yourself with the same
demands for freedom and autonomy in relation to science and
technology. To what extent has it proposed new interventions or new
kinds of production in these fields? Can you give an example?*



First is important to say that these movements of free software and
DIY have changed. They have been mixed up with the neoliberal program,
whether we're talking about corporate software or about the makers,
even though both movements remain active and are still spaces of
invention. In the encounters and festivals, we are going as far is
possible, considers our precarious nature, lack of dedicated funding
or support from economically stronger institutions, we rely mainly
on the knowledge of the participants of the network, which come
into action in the places. I also know of cases where the festivals
inspired the formation of groups of people who returned to their
cities and continued to do work related to technological issues,
whether in the countryside, in computer technology, and in art as
well. Technoshamanism serves to inspire and perhaps empower projects
that already function, but which technoshamanism endorses and excites.

I think that a fairly representative example is the agroforest
<https://www.flickr.com/photos/22405820 {AT} N08/albums/72157673936765924/p
age3>, the Baobáxia system
<http://hyndla.modspil.dk/#mocambos/kadawe/bbx/search> and the web
radio Aratu <http://radioaratu.eco.br/> that we implemented with the
Pataxó in the Pará village. It is an exhange and simultanously a
resistance that points to the question of collaboration and autonomy,
remembering that all the processes of this planet are interdependent
and that autonomy is really a path, an ideal which only works
pragmatically and to the extent that it's possible to practice it. So
we're crawling in that direction. There are networks and processes
much more advanced.

What we'd like to see is the Pataxó village Pará (home of the II
International Festival of Technoshamanism), to take one example, with
food autonomy and exuberant agroforests and wellsprings, with media
and technological autonomy and very soon with autonomous energy. We'd
like to see that not just for the Pataxó, but for all the groups in
the network (at least). But that depends a lot on time, investment
and financing, because these things may seem cheap, but they aren't.
We should remember that corporations, entrepeneurs and land-owners
are concentrating their forces on these indigenous villages and
encouraging projects that go totally against all of this, that is,
applying pressure in order to take their land, incorporate them in the
corporate productive system and turn them into low-paid workers, etc.

In May 2017 we met with the Terra Vista Settlement in Arataca
(Bahia, Brazil). They invited the leaders of the Pataxó village
to become part of the Web of Peoples^8 <#sdfootnote8sym> which
has this exact project of technological and alimentary autonomy
<http://teiadospovos.redelivre.org.br/a-teia/> and I see this as
a kind of continuation of the proposals which were generated in
community meetings in the Pará village during the preparations for
the II International Festival of Technoshamanism. Everything depends
on an insistent and frequent change in the more structural strata of
desire. And when we understand that TV channels like the Globo network
reach all these territories, we see the necessity of opening other
channels of information and education.



– *Do you believe that insurgent knowledge and anti-hegemonic
epistemologies should gradually take up more space in the universities
or is it better for them to remain in the margin?*



In a conversation with Joelson, leader of the MST in the Terra
Vista settlement he gave the following hint, which was decisive
for me: “Technoshamanism is neither the beginning nor the
end, it is a medium.” His suggestion is that as a medium,
technoshamanism possesses a space of articulation, which rather than
answering questions of genesis and purpose functions as a space
of interlocution, for making connections, uniting focal points,
leveraging movements, expanding concepts and practices concerning
itself and other movements – that is, it plays in the middle of the
field and facilitates processes.

As yet another network in the “middle”, it negotiates sometimes
within institutions and sometimes outside them, sometimes inside
academia and sometimes outside it. Since it consists of people from
the most diverse areas, it manifests itself in the day to day life
of its members. Some work in academia, some in healing, others in a
pizzaria. That is, the network is everywhere where its participants
are. I particularly like it when we do the festivals autonomously,
deciding what to do and how to do it with the people who invite us
and we don't have to do favours or do anything in return for the
institutions. But this is not to say that it will always be like that.
In fact, the expenses of those who organize the meetings are large
and unsustainable. Sometimes the network will be more independent,
sometimes more dependent. What it can't do is stagnate because of the
lack of possibilities. Crowdfunding has been an interesting way out,
but it's not enough. It's necessary sometimes to form partnerships
with organizations such as universities so the thing can continue
moving in a more consistent and prolonged form, because it's difficult
to rely on people's good will alone – projects stagnate because they
lack the ressources.



1 <#sdfootnote1anc>Source:
http://www.em-rede.com/site/entrevista/fabiane-m-borges-tecnoxamanismo
-como-meio-de-recuperar-e-reinventar-pontos-de-conex%C3%A3o

2 <#sdfootnote2anc>http://revistageni.org/10/tecnoxamanismos-etc/

3 <#sdfootnote3anc>Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, /Cannibal
Metaphysics, /Univocal (2014), available here:
https://hamtramckfreeschool.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/eduardo-viveir
os-de-castro-cannibal-metaphysics-for-a-poststructural-anthropology.pd
f

4 <#sdfootnote4anc>Davi Kopenawa and Bruce Albert, /The Falling Sky/,
Belknap Press (2013).

5 <#sdfootnote5anc> Fabián Ludueña, /La comunidad de los espectros:
Antropotecnia/, Mino y Davila (2010).

6 <#sdfootnote6anc>//Silvia Federici/, C//aliban and
the Witch: Women, the Body and Primitive Accumulation/.
Brooklyn, NY: Autonomedia (2004). Available here:
https://libcom.org/files/Caliban%20and%20the%20Witch.pdf

7 <#sdfootnote7anc>MST, the “landless worker's movement
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Landless_Workers%27_Movement>”
is a social movement in Brazil that fights for workers' access to
land through demands for land reform and direct actions such as
establishing settlements on occupied land.

8 <#sdfootnote8anc>Teia dos Povos,
http://teiadospovos.redelivre.org.br/



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