Taussig is a contemporary anthropologist, who has worked on 'shamanism'. Apparently.

He seeks to do away with the idea of the shaman as someone who has been individualised through unity of self and world; and their "song" (importantly linked with modern poetry) is not studied, as it traditionally was, as a work of insight that orders the shaman's internal chaos.

Instead, Taussig he claims the shaman has survived a physical or mental illness, and thereby is thought to heal other sufferers. That occurs via their song and its symbolic restructuring (new associations and disassociations) of the tribe's fear.

Taussig's work parallels that of Deleuze and Guattari, but the latter pair neglect the context of the above symbolic disordering.

From Late Modernist Poetics, Melors, p133-134.

Has anything more recent than the above sketch invalidated or added to our understanding of shamanism?


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I don't have a clear picture of Taussig's discussion of this topic as I have not read him in a long time, but your closest bet to getting a Deleuzian response to this question would be via the work of Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, particularly in Cannibal Metaphysics. He does perhaps the most or any contemporary author to flesh out the transformation Deleuze makes from his very early discussions of symbolism (such as in the book Kant's Critical Philosophy) and the transformation he makes of it in Mille Plateaux in the discussion of "becoming". But Viveiros de Castro isn't approaching it so much from the philosophical side of it but for its implications for the practice of anthropology.

I would also actually disagree with the statement that something like "symbolic restructuring" isn't discussed with them. But given that this is not a philosophical in nature, it isn't discussed in their books together. You'd have to look in Guattari's solo works to see how an entire art of dispositional restructuring is proposed. The language and the concepts are different from what you'd see in someone like Taussig or any other writer I can think of, but he's talking about essentially the same thing -- how to change the way one relates to the mind, mental events, mental content etc. For me it's most clear in Guattari's Cartographies schizoanalytiques.

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