Shamanistic language is not the language of Lacan’s symbolic order, denotative and stable. Rather it is the language of incantation. It presumes change and instability in the nature of the world. Thus the world is a politically charged hive of meaning, subject to change and manipulation from the shaman’s point of view. The nature of the world is neither fixed by logic nor by formal religious or political dispensation of rights. Reality, although perceived as limited by whatever its current manifestations may be, is subject to pressures brought to bear from the realm of the imagination (or, in more traditional terms, the realm of “spirits”). This primary realm of the imagination is conceived as the antecedent and progenitor of the profane and limited world or ordinary reality.
Due to its primary metaphysical position, the imagination is able to force changes of a political and social sort, within the everyday realm. The power of language, brought under the shaman’s control as a servant of his rather particular will, is one means by which reality can be altered. This is what Marechera means when he refers to ordinary or everyday reality as “the available reality” – it is the reality that is currently made manifest on the basis of arbitrary determinations. Due to the primacy of position that Marechera gives to the imagination, his views roughly parallel those of the French Situationists [http://www.bopsecrets.org/CF/graffiti.htm]:
“Every view of things that is not strange is false.”
Forget everything you’ve been taught. Start by dreaming.
Going through the motions kills the emotions.
Those who lack imagination cannot imagine what is lacking.
Imagination is not a gift, it must be conquered.
The shaman is one who has conquered the force of their own imagination – so much so that they are able to use the powers of the imagination, like an experienced hang-glider, as a life-enhancing force. The glider’s skilful knowledge of the structures and behaviour of the thermals (high pressure systems) enables them to remain bouyant. Such experiential knowledge enables one to ride the forces of one’s passions whilst minimising the chance of harm. Shamans have the kind of experiential self knowledge that makes their passions servants to the shaman’s will, rather than aspects of the self that are dangerously unknown or unpredictable.