KEY POINTS REGARDING SHAMANISM (PARTICULARLY MARECHERA’S)

1. Marechera’s shamanism is very similar to those of Nietzsche and Bataille in that it is highly individualistic. The individual nature of experience is a key aspect of shamanism. However, Marechera’s concerns are to be viewed within the context of a life that is already marginalised. So his concerns about “soul loss” (the loss of vitality) and how to remedy that are to be viewed in the psychodynamic context of defence of one’s self concept against the authorities and their claims.

2 In terms of existing character, shamanism requires the opposite of timidity in order to participate in it — that is, a pre-existing inclination to put one’s inner self at stake. This is absolutely crucial because one does not strike a fire in one’s own spirit unless one first puts something at stake. And if one has no fire to begin with, one does not strike a fire in that case, either. (This relates to Bataille’s celebration of “excess” or the “limit experience” and Nietzsche’s injunction to “live dangerously”, both of which produce a heightened awareness of the INTRAPERSONAL — that is, the inner self.) One lives close to the concept of death.

3. Shamanism involves strategic regression to trance states in order to enhance the quality of one’s life. (This relates to Bataille more than it does to Nietzsche — although both preferred feelings of “intoxication”.) “Transgression” — as per Bataille — can destroy the currently existing social self and cause part of it to regress. Nietzsche adopted, by contrast, a regressive view of human nature, in order to enhance his feeling of power in reacting with it and ultimately transcending it.

4. Shamanism involves a certain amount of destruction of the existing self, in order to release pent up heat (causing pathologies) and to increase the capacity for inwards development and playful self transformations. This is its link to psychoanalysis, the talking cure.

5. There is an inherent shamanistic link between pre-Oedipal states (and the pre-Oedipal field in adult life) and the shamanistic — since both recall a sense of Nature and one’s primeval origins.  However these are not necessarily to be narrowly understood as psychoanalysis does, which is in terms solely defined by deprivation.

6. Self-creation through the release of pent up heat enables social playfulness and social masks. (Marechera dressed up as a photographer from Fleet Street.)

7. An archetypal form or idea may be used to help one to advance developmentally, using the pre-Oedipal field. This is the psychological purpose of the shaman’s animal spirit guides.

8. The shaman deals with the inevitable sense of loss of wholeness that is part of normal development in the “depressive position” by engaging his or her creativity rather than more common/normal means of dealing with one’s situation — repression and resignation. This involves a definite risk — that one has the energy and consistency to power one’s own engine through life, rather than relying upon social organisations to assist one. The shaman is more aware than others that the nature of life is to be inherently “incomplete”, and that deliberate and self-conscious efforts are required to heal this lack of wholeness, temporarily — for the shaman’s efforts can never signify more than a temporary festival of wholeness and completion. It is the shaman’s hypersensitivity to the problem of the “depressive position” (that of alienation, aloneness and a lost sense of wholeness), that drives his creativity. It is his (or her) knowledge of how to provide temporary solutions against falling into typical resignation towards life ( in the depressive position), that becomes the shaman’s secret fountain of youthfulness and exuberance.

9. The shaman’s unusual perceptive abilities stem not only from his or her great sensitivity to the way that energy flows between different parts of his (or her) mind but also derive from the fact that the shaman is inclined to repress less of reality (for instance, out of fear of it), and is rather more inclined to work directly with the positive and negative aspects of reality as they are felt. This often leads to an attempt to manipulate, control and redirect psychological forces, within the broader society at large.

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