3. Because of the humans’ dual relationship with nature –born of it, and yet in principle opposed to it on the basis of rationality (a form of transcendence) – regression towards “Nature” is both inherently positive and negative. Shamanism, as such is very paradoxical in its essence. Shamanic regression allows one to reformulate one’s relationships to the world by confronting the forces that coincide with Thanatos and Eros.
4. The schizoid mode is a receptive mode, which facilitates openness to new impressions and change.
5. It’s not just the shattering of the narrow and conventional psyche that shamanistic initiation (involved in the recapitulation of one’s developmental processes) involves. There is rather more than this to the whole process of shamanistic mind expansion.The journey back to the (in Freudian terms) pre-Oedipal level (or complex psychical distortions pertaining to infancy) in Black Sunlight is typically shamanistic in that it pushes the reader towards developing one’s toleration of lack of meaning and ambiguity, whilst coping under the pressure of heightened emotional states (terror and sexual danger). This could be considered akin to doing a mental strengthening exercise, as in an endurance test in the martial arts, for the purpose of developing the mind’s toleration of ambiguity — which is itself the source of shamanic power. For one sees more of reality, if one does not give into the profound inner tension that one faces when phenomena appears to be contradictory or ambiguous. Rather, shamanistic discipline – through its training to tolerate ambiguity – teaches us to wait until Eros supplies her sublation, resolving merely apparent contradictions, through transcendent insight.
6. The infantile range of the psyche is “the feminine” only in the sense that one is dealing with the definitively maternal, in both its positive and negative aspects: an encounter with nurturing and engulfment, followed by excretion into the real world again.
7. Two kinds of blindness in Zarathustra – wilful blindness or “purblindness” and the blindness of those who over-see or see too much. “And the blindness of the blind one, and his seeking and groping, shall yet testify to the power of the sun into which he hath gazed,–did ye know that before?”
8 strait-jacket and abandoned efforts in the real world quote from BS.
6. The shamanistic journey in BS is, like many other shamanic journeys, hardly a “return to Nature” and to naturalness, so much as it is a shattering personal reacquaintance with one’s origins in Nature. The fact that one has become, through civilising processes, something other than “natural” is the cause of this effect of partial shattering upon encountering fluid Nature.
7. Far from being “mysticism”, shamanistic experiences lead to a demystifying of reality, enabling us to see that an enormous amount of experience is socially constructed. As such, a shamanic experience is capable of supplying the fodder for a more rational orientation towards the world, which takes into account the contingent nature of our origins, and our mortality.
8. Infantile psychological dynamics are (already, and prior to any overt swallowing and excretion) “womb-like” as they give us – from the perspective of a fully matured adult ego (a perspective that we cannot fully lose, without dissolving into permanent madness) – a feeling of intense action that is unmitigated by rational thought, as well as a sense of claustrophobia, in the feeling that one is inextricably part of a situation that is not defined by choice but by necessity. This is an experience of the side of “Nature as tyrant” (as contrasted with the benevolent “other face” of Nature – as the psychologically posited metaphysical source of all action, in a fluid stream of interconnectivity that suggests absolute inevitability).
9. Freud. The Oedipus complex, as Freud has conceived it, could be understood, in terms of its effects, as “the patriarchal complex”. If children are really bisexual at the infantile level, as Freud supposed, then the Oedipus complex is the developmental turning point when gender becomes polarised, and patriarchal values are introjected. It is no wonder that Marechera’s “Susan” character is powerful (as an anarchist, with a stronger will than a normal human, and as a creature of the occult underworld, too. She has found a way to reverse engineer the law that requires submission to patriarchal values, as a psychological imperative. Marechera represents this reverse engineering in Susan’s delight in having sex with her father – thus thwarting the mechanism of attraction and then repression, which creates implicit compliance to the law of patriarchy. Whilst Marechera chose to employ this image as a daring aesthetic trope, I would suggest that the very structure of the novel, Black Sunlight – with its regressive “soul journey” into the earlier stages of the psyche (and not just into the historical past) – invites us to become aware of the subjective limitations that were imposed on us as we become entrapped by adult sexual dynamics, leading to rigidity and acquiescence to social mores on a dterministic path toward biological reproduction.
Such awareness is a component of shamanistic insight and leads to the possibility of recuperating more of our subjectivity as a lost form of power, for perhaps too much was sacrificed originally, as a result of our primeval terror in confrontation with parental power. As adults, we are equipped with reality-based egos, capable of choice, and it is this ego, in fact, that now stands to benefit through taking the journey that leads to shamanic recapitulation