Repost language and experience

language and experience

Entering a realm where experience is less mediated by language or culture can be quite scary. Language is kind of like a barrier against falling off your “cliff edge”. So long as you can pin the other person to language, and what they are deemed to have said, you do not feel existentially threatened, but rather as if everything in life were firm, and always had been.

The opposite to this is to remove the barrier of language, not in terms of denying that there is, or can be, or ought to be such a barrier, but in the sense of not relying on it so much. That it is quite possible to do so is shown by sparring, wherein social conventions do not matter, but only the movement of the body and its apparent intentions are considered.

They are definitely two very different levels of relating to the world. I would not have been able to go to Zimbabwe and achieve anything like I did, had I been concerned to lock meanings into place in any kind of rigid fashion. I think “identity politics” is precisely concerned with locking into place these kinds of meanings, so that others can seem more solidified than they are. However, you can’t go under, over and around identity, if you are thinking in that way. I would have had to stay in the white suburbs for the duration of my stay, instead of passing freely between different realms.

Shamanic regression has nothing to do with morality, in either a positive or negative sense. Shamanic observations about how societies are structured are in terms of amorality. One is not “better” for being at the top of society, for instance — one just appears that way due to being able to pass off one’s failings and guilt as belonging to somebody lower down in the social hierarchy. This is a fundamental shamanistic insight.

In fact this is the the core insight of shamanism — that the realm of society is not structured on the basis of morality, and nor can it be. This point is related to another point, concerning how  shamanistic practice can be misunderstood. If it is associated with a system of morality, or a way to become morally pure, or a way to prove others to be morally in the wrong,  this is about as extreme a misunderstanding as is possible.


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