shamanism

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I’ve actually had a few wild perceptions of being potentially able to alter reality – especially time – (and no, I wasn’t under any influence), but they always seem … out of ken. Not real. But here I am reading Mattelart for Paula’s class, and he quotes McLuhan…
Participants and actors

9 thoughts on “shamanism”

  1. Hey, Event Shapeshifter!
    I liked your post! Shamanism, a nice departure from the norm here.
    Why is altering reality a wild perception?
    Did Mattelart mention the concept of thoughts as energy forms that effect reality before they are expressed?

  2. Mattelart is way too scholarly to go there, academia is not a very friendly place for this kind of thinking. Or, for its articulation, anyway. 🙂
    Some of the stuff I’m reading in “anthropology of consciousness” might get close, such as “Why god won’t go away: the biology of brain science”. The prof insists that no one has proven that “consciousness” resides IN the brain, instead of THROUGH it. The branch of academic study that comes closest, near as I can tell, to the possibility of addressing the notion of thought as energy is phenomenology – the study of consciousness. A central concept has to do with “appearing”. How is it that things appear? How does anything come into being? Then there’s all kinds of stuff about perception….
    Altering reality is a wild perception to me because its quite unfamiliar. Or….hmmm. I’m thinking that what was different about those couple of experiences is that they seemed future oriented, as in doing something now that changes (has already changed?) something yet to happen (at least in linear time as most of us experience it, smile). i think often when i say things with that pecular quality of timing that resonates with people (to “good” or “ill” effect) might be conceived as “alterations” but their spontaneity has perhaps confused me. I never think, “if I do this, then that will happen.” I just feel I have something to say that’s important, and I never know where it will go or how it will play out.

  3. Also, the actual quote is from Marshall McLuhan – I bet you’ve heard of him? “The medium is the message.” He may well have gotten to the point of saying things about energy – he’s acknowledged for some crucial thinking early in his career and then generally dismissed as he became more and more idealistic and optimistic about communication and communicative technologies as “the solution” to all the world’s problems.

  4. Still reading Vitebsky’s book on shamanism…. Being a shaman has got to be one of the loneliest jobs in the world. In the communities Vitebsky is talking about shamans are always in a liminal position, balancing between the community and some sort of ‘beyond’ – even if they have regular day-jobs! You are ‘the shaman’, not ‘a member of the shaman team’. Sure, people look up to you, they expect your advice, but you are also known to transcend the boundaries of everyday perception, and that kind of sets you aside. (Hm. Is Vitebsky really saying this or am I just spinning the tale further?)
    Still, it seems shamans make only little sense outside of their communities. And they make no sense without the affirmation of their messages by the community. Without that, they are mere lunatics. Shamans, as I understand their job description, ultimately alter reality for the community and not merely for themselves. Altering their own (perception of) reality is only the first step toward that goal.

  5. Still reading Vitebsky’s book on shamanism…. Being a shaman has got to be one of the loneliest jobs in the world. In the communities Vitebsky is talking about shamans are always in a liminal position, balancing between the community and some sort of ‘beyond’ – even if they have regular day-jobs! You are ‘the shaman’, not ‘a member of the shaman team’. Sure, people look up to you, they expect your advice, but you are also known to transcend the boundaries of everyday perception, and that kind of sets you aside. (Hm. Is Vitebsky really saying this or am I just spinning the tale further?)
    Still, it seems shamans make only little sense outside of their communities. And they make no sense without the affirmation of their messages by the community. Without that, they are mere lunatics. Shamans, as I understand their job description, ultimately alter reality for the community and not merely for themselves. Altering their own (perception of) reality is only the first step toward that goal.

  6. Still reading Vitebsky’s book on shamanism…. Being a shaman has got to be one of the loneliest jobs in the world. In the communities Vitebsky is talking about shamans are always in a liminal position, balancing between the community and some sort of ‘beyond’ – even if they have regular day-jobs! You are ‘the shaman’, not ‘a member of the shaman team’. Sure, people look up to you, they expect your advice, but you are also known to transcend the boundaries of everyday perception, and that kind of sets you aside. (Hm. Is Vitebsky really saying this or am I just spinning the tale further?)
    Still, it seems shamans make only little sense outside of their communities. And they make no sense without the affirmation of their messages by the community. Without that, they are mere lunatics. Shamans, as I understand their job description, ultimately alter reality for the community and not merely for themselves. Altering their own (perception of) reality is only the first step toward that goal.

  7. a critique of the critique of mcluhan’s determinism:
    i have always thought that what should be dismissed, or is dismissable, is this interpretation of mcluhan’s “determinism.” mcluhan never said any changes were directly brought about by specific media of communication, his interpreters did. what is much closer to mcluhan’s insight is that in light of certain events worth the name, entire social structures became reconfigured at certain moments in history. for example, the tweleve tone scale was an event in music, tranforming the structure of how music could be written thereafter. this was not a cause of the piano. the conceptual, spatial structure of transportation, settlement, and commodities markets was reconfigured by steam, not by the locomotive. it was the former that demoted the horse to a figure of wealth and leisure. electricity, not the lightbulb, telegraph, radio, or television set, reconfigured the conceptual, temporal structure of intersubjectivity. mcluhan saw media of communication (papyrus, paper, print, telegraph…) as a way in which to discuss these structural transformations, to identify them not as causes but as nodal points. radically put – if one wanted to draw much too clear a distinction – media of communication, as mcluhan saw them, were effects, not causes: the medium is the message (the content, the appearance) of the historical moment. perhaps you will agree that on this score, one could blame mcluhan for reading hegel, but not for *not* reading engels (because, actually, he did).
    the critique that media of communication have determinate social and cultural effects should be put not to mcluhan (the literary critic), but to the behavioural psychologist.

  8. I’ll have to come back to the critique (Paper #1 looms!) but I’m both intrigued and grateful for it. There’s some clarification I definitely needed…
    David, I wanted you to know that your triple post has stayed on my mind.
    lonely
    Lonely
    LONELY!
    was the message that stuck. %-)

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