Of archipelagos and arrows

Common Knowledge 17 (1):151-154 (2011)
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Abstract

These comments on Eduardo Viveiros de Castro's article, “Zeno and the Art of Anthropology,” emphasize, first, his engagement with ideas of Gilles Deleuze that open to the political dimension of Amerindian perspectivism and to a “multinatural” understanding of human-to-environment relations; these form the foundation of postdevelopment action in this part of the world and orient actors' “postures of attention” to power relations. Second, this commentary raises questions concerning arrows—archetypal of the protentive element of Amerindian “speculative ontology” and, as such, symbolic vehicles of a hopeful environmental consciousness and activism. The interesting point of arrows in this context is that their protention can and must take into account both forward- and also backward-looking time, in order to fulfill their promise of finding their mark. The matter of their intended effectiveness being sharply focused on the figures of their human sources, parabolic course, and targets, both reversals of direction and the ground they would traverse can be lost sight of. Ironically, focusing on figures invites attention to their backgrounds: expanses of earth or air and gaps between origin and contact can remind us, for example, of all that can interfere with or defeat intended goals, particularly in a lifeworld of multisited human and nonhuman agency. Overall, this response to Viveiros de Castro takes an aesthetico-political approach to his article. It comments on the important work of recognizing how uncemented values of Amerindians can be recombined with Western concepts to shape an ongoing “found object” relationship of Western and Amerindian intellectual traditions that is capable of addressing complexities of shifting power in modern times

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