There are many things to consider

The freakishly large pages of the most recent NYRB have within them an essay discussing the publication of a study of what seems to be  a spiritual/psychogeographical map painted in the 16th century by a Nahuatl-speaking resident of New Spain. This is just my kind of thing, given my truly insatiable appetite for real Understanding of the transformation and extermination of first peoples/first knowing cultures during the periods of their conquest by the long spears and guns of Imperial, technocratic societies. Something I found particularly interesting about the painting discussed was that it apparently is itself a document describing the “civilization” of certain pre-Columbian populations by another pre-Columbian society, the Toltecs. Seeking aid for their besieged city, Toltec shamans embark on a spiritual (and physical) journey, during which their spirit guides help them recruit tribes of hunter/gatherers, which are then folded into Toltec culture via a series of rituals performed during the return journey.

Ably incorporated into the essay is a broader discussion of “Indian-ness” and contemporary indigenous/technocratic relationships. An accompanying photograph stunned me, a picture taken last spring that somehow escaped my knowledge-trawling until now:

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Taken from a helicopter above the Amazon, these are members of an “uncontacted” people who likely know of the existence of a culture beyond their borders but assiduously avoid it. Brazil’s Supreme Court last week upheld the establishment of an ecological/indigenous reserve , so perhaps these fellows won’t be forced to put on t-shirts and get work cutting down their homeland just yet.

Humans!  WTF.

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2 Responses to “There are many things to consider”

  1. Matthew Says:

    This photo was an admitted hoax; admitted about four days after it was published, I believe,

    • doomspirals Says:

      Well. I quite clearly failed to fact-check my received wisdom – after some effort to do so, however, I am not yet convinced that this photograph is what I would call a “hoax.” Limited internet knowledge gathering indicates that while this tribe and its whereabouts were already known to the photographer and interested parties and was not a “discovery”, as far as I (tristan) can tell they are still an “uncontacted” tribe, as they do not mingle with westernized/industrialized sorts and westernized/industrialized sorts do not venture into their territory. What I’ve been able to discern is that the photographer knew where to find these people (which is not public knowledge) and took their picture because he wanted to safeguard their continued existence as a relatively unfuckedwith society, as various interests continued to doubt the very existence of such people. It seems to have been referred to as a “hoax” by those who did not appreciate the meaning of the term “uncontacted”. But if there is more to the hoax explanation please let me know. . .

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