15 Dec 2012


How did the term [intellectual shamanism] develop? Do you use shamanism as a metaphor or as a signifier? Do u think there is a connection between deconstruction and altered states of consciousness?

Jennifer Frances Armstrong
The postmodernists took a lot from the originators of this mode of experience that I have termed, "intellectual shamanism". However, what is suited to academia is not the original system of ideas, which necessarily grows wild --and can only grow wild. If you consider that shamanism is the untaming of the human mind, then the postmodernist interpretations of Nietzsche and Bataille are somewhat at odds with themselves, since they are the domestication of theories that by their very nature resist domestication.

Jennifer Frances Armstrong
As for whether deconstruction can lead to altered states of consciousness, that really depends on how far the academic theoreticians have gone in domesticating the original ideas. If they have domesticated them a lot, it cannot. But if only a little bit, well then, perhaps a little more.

Jennifer Frances Armstrong
Intellectual shamanism is in some ways a metaphor and in other ways a signifier. It's a metaphor in that one does not actually believe in real spirits that guide one. It's a signifier in that the transformation through ASC is real and the experiences one has are not to be rejected simply as fantasy or fiction.

Jennifer Frances Armstrong
Anyway, I developed the term to try to explain what I thought was missing from contemporary awareness, especially in academia -- which is that life is not a theoretical proposition unrelated to danger, experiment or the need to promote change.

Jennifer Frances Armstrong
I was studying the African author, Dambudzo Marechera, and I saw he understood everything in this way. But the academic analyses of him were generally incapable of taking into account the risky nature of his intellectual and artistic enterprise. They acted as if nothing were at stake except the artist's reputation -- whereas that was far from being the case. in fact, his life, his sanity AND his artistic enterprise were all put at stake.

Jennifer Frances Armstrong
So they didn't understand deliberately taking the risks or the necessity to experiment, which are related to knowledge of the world, as well as to effective communication of what really matters.
I used the term, "facing death", to signify this kind of risk.

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